Lesson 22: I and Na Adjectives in Present Tense

This lesson will teach you about a Japanese part of speech that we have not yet discussed: adjectives. Adjectives function a very specific way in Japanese. You must learn to conjugate them into the past, present, negative, and affirmative forms just like you learned with verbs. The rules for conjugating adjectives are different than the rules for conjugating verbs, so read the following lesson to learn how it’s done!

The Japanese language has two kinds of adjectives. Both kinds will conjugate differently, so you must memorize both sets of rules. The two types of adjectives are い and な. Adjectives are named for the syllable that comes at the end of the word.

To learn how to conjugate い adjectives, let’s take the word たかい, which means “expensive.” If we want to use this adjective in the present affirmative form, for example to say that something is expensive, we simply leave the word as it is and place it in front of the noun it modifies. For example: それはたかいほんです(That is an expensive book). You can also leave the noun out any simply say that something is expensive. For example: それはたかいです(That is expensive). If your listener knows what subject you are speaking about, then this form is okay.

If you wish to negate an い adjective, you must change the い to く and add ありません. Let’s use たかい like in the example above. それはたかくありません(That is not expensive). そのほんはたかくありません(That book is not expensive).

You can also leave off the subject completely, so long as your listener knows what you are talking about. たかいですor たかくありません can each be a sentence, expressing that you think something is expensive or not expensive. As long as the subject is understood, it is okay to just use these words.

The second type of adjectives in Japanese is な adjectives. These words will end in な, but only if they precede a noun. For example, take the な adjective きれいな. If you are talking about a cat and want to say it is pretty, you could simply say きれいです. Notice that the な part of the word is dropped since a verb follows the adjective, not a noun. If you place the noun cat after the adjective, you leave な in place: きれいなねこです. Use きれいですonly if the subject is understood!

If you want to negate a な adjective, you drop the な and add じゃありません. For example: きれいじゃありません(It’s not pretty). Or, このねこはきれいじゃありません(This cat is not pretty).

Besides these two types of adjectives, there is one irregular one. This one is いい. This means “good.” When in the affirmative present form, you simply say いいです. If you want to negate this, you would change the いい to よ and add くありません. It then becomes よくありません.

This is the only irregularity you should worry about for now. The rest of the adjectives conjugate according to the patterns described above.

The best way to learn these new adjectives is to practice conjugating them. Check out the exercises below to learn more adjectives and get some practice with writing and conjugating them.

Exercise I

Conjugate the following adjectives into present negative form.

  1. たかい
  2. きれいな
  3. おもしろい
  4. ちさい
  5. むずかしい

Exercise II

Write a sentence for each of the following adjectives. You can use the adjective n present negative or affirmative ways. There will be no answers to this section of the lesson since you are making up your own sentences! If you want to check your answers, refer back to the lesson!

  1. つまらない (boring)
  2. げんきな (healthy)
  3. いそがしい (busy)
  4. あつい (hot)
  5. さむい (cold)
  6. ひまな (not busy)
  7. しずかな (quiet)
  8. にぎやかな (lively)
  9. たのしい (fun)
  10. おおきい (large, big)

Exercise III

Translate the following sentences into English. If you are not familiar with a word, look it up in a dictionary.

  1. このまちはきれいです。
  2. それはおもしろいほんです。
  3. えいがはおもしろくありません。
  4. にほんごはむずかしくありません。
  5. わたしはいそがしいです。
  6. わたしはひまじゃありません。


Answer Key

Exercise I

  1. たかくありません
  2. きれいじゃありません
  3. おもしろくありません
  4. ちさくありません
  5. むずかしくありません

Exercise III

  1. This city is pretty.
  2. That is an interesting book.
  3. The movie is not interesting.
  4. Japanese is not difficult.
  5. I am busy.
  6. I do not have a lot of free time.

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