Japanese Adjectives: 135 Must Know Adjectives in Japanese

When visiting a foreign destination it’s always helpful to be able to communicate with the local population and with the world opening up for travel again, the possibilities seem endless. Today we will be reviewing and taking an in-depth look into the Japanese language to help newcomers and professionals alike. By the end of this article, whether you’re simply hoping to brush up on existing skills or acquire new ones the art of Japanese adjectives will be fully explained and explored. AmazingTalker offers comprehensive Japanese lessons taught by native Japanese-speaking teachers for those seeking more information on the subject.

Japanese Adjectives to Describe Positive Feelings

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We all understand what it feels like when you want to convey a positive feeling to your conversation partner but can’t seem to find the right word. Having the correct adjective when it comes to the conversation can make or break the way your friend or co-worker perceives your statement. Not only does this affect the perception of the person you’re speaking to but it has been proven that speaking positively can improve your own mood and mindset. Below we will explore and discuss 15 Japanese adjectives that can be used to brighten the day of those around you during the conversation.

  1. 良い (yoi) – Good
  2. すごい (sugoi) – Amazing
  3. かっこいい (kakkoii) – Cool
  4. 正しい (tadashii) – Correct
  5. 簡単な (kantan na) – Simple
  6. 優しい (yasashii) – Kind
  7. 嬉しい (ureshii) – Happy
  8. 元気な (genki na) – Energetic
  9. 楽しい (tanoshii) – Enjoyable
  10. 素晴らしい (subarashii) – Wonderful
  11. 美しい (utsukushii) – Beautiful
  12. 面白い (omoshiroi) – Friendly
  13. かわいい (kawaii)- Cute
  14. 元気な (genki na) – Cheerful
  15. 甘い (amai) – Sweet

The adjectives listed above are a great way to inject a positive spirit into your Japanese conversation. These adjectives can be a wonderful resource for those seeking to deliver good news or simply those hoping to impress a few Japanese-speaking colleagues. One important factor to note is that Japanese adjectives are usually sorted into two different categories, these are な- adjectives and い- adjectives. い- Adjectives can be used as-is in front of a noun or added to the end of a sentence and used to conjugate it. な- also conjugate a sentence when placed at the end, however when used before a noun they’re used to indicate the word “is”. For example, if one wanted to say “energetic child,” one would use 元気な子供 (genki na kodomo) but if one were to say “the child is energetic” the correct use would be 子供は元気です (kodomo wa genki desu).

Japanese Adjectives to Describe Negative Feelings

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As much as we may like to spread positivity, occasionally things that aren’t so great happen and it’s important to be able to express oneself when this occurs. Negative adjectives not only help express oneself but also help to be able to deliver bad news when necessary. These adjectives can be used to describe negative feelings about people, places, things or situations. However, one should be careful when using them, especially for those that are new to the language as some of these can be quite insulting.

  1. 悪い (warui) – Bad
  2. ひどい (hidoi) – Horrible
  3. ダサい (dasai) – Lame
  4. 間違った (machigatta)- Wrong / incorrect
  5. 難しい (muzukashii) – Difficult
  6. 失礼な (shitsurei na)- Mean
  7. 悲しい (kanashii) -Sad
  8. めんどい (mendoi) – Lazy
  9. つまらない (tsumaranai) – Boring
  10. 嫌な (iya na) – Awful
  11. いたい (Itai) – Painful
  12. むり (Muridayo) impossible
  13. さみしい (Samishī) –Lonely
  14. 暗い (kurai) unhappy
  15. あぶない (abunai) – dangerous

When it comes to (i) adjectives it should be noted that one should always remove the い at the end of the word and replace it with くない in order to negatively conjugate it. After adding くない the (i) adjective remains the same and functions the same way as any other (i) adjective. However, when placing the くない adjective at the end of a sentence it is used to denote a more casual tone. For formal settings, one removes くない and uses くありません at the end of a sentence instead.

The “Na” Japanese Adjectives

Thankfully although Japanese can be complex, understanding the na adjective is actually quite simple. This adjective form acts as a noun. The conjugation rules for nouns and na adjectives follow the same rules which makes it easier to remember. Another helpful tip to bear in mind would be that an easy way to identify (na) adjectives would be to simply check if they end with い, bearing a few exceptions, all adjectives without い would be considered (na) adjectives. Exceptions to this rule would be “beautiful” (きれい), hate (きらい), and “grateful/happy” (さいわい). All of these may look like い adjectives but they conjugate to (na) adjectives. The difference one should be aware of between na adjectives and nouns is that na adjectives can modify a noun by placing な between the adjective and the noun.

  1. 好すき (Okiniiri)- Like
  2. 有名 (Yūmei)- famous
  3. 静しずか (Shizukana) –Quiet
  4. 静しずか (Benri) – Convenient
  5. 大切 (Kichō) –important/ Precious
  6. 上手 (Takumina) – Skilful
  7. 下手 (Heta) – Unskilful
  8. 必要 (Hitsuyō) – Necessary
  9. 立派りっ (Subarashī) – Splendid
  10. まじめ (Shinkoku) – Serious
  11. 人 (Hito) –Person
  12. きれい (Kawaī) –Pretty
  13. とも・だち (Tomodachi) – Friend
  14. 嫌い (Kirai) –Hate
  15. ありがたい (Arigatai)- Grateful

There are some grammar rules one should be aware of when conjugating (na) adjectives, for example as stated above when directly modifying a noun, one should always place な between the adjective and the noun.

Ex: 静かな人

Quiet person.

きれいな人

Pretty person.

  1. Another familiar feature of the Japanese grammatical system is particles, particles are words that define what or who the sentence is about. They help understand how the noun, verb or objects in the sentence relate to one another. When it comes to (na) adjectives they can also be paired with particles.

Ex: 友達は親切

Friend is kind.

友達は親切な人だ

Friend is kind person.

  1. When it comes to positive present tense adjectives they’re always followed by the auxiliary verb です (polite) or だ (casual). It’s also important to bear in mind that similar to い-adjectives, present and future tense uses the same form.

Ex: 田中さんは元気です

Tanaka san is healthy

  1. In order to conjugate the auxiliary verb to get the negative present tense adjective one simply adds 〜じゃありません, however one could also use 〜ではありません which has the same meaning but is better to use in polite conversation and written Japanese. These could also be made casual by using 〜じゃない or 〜ではない. Ex: あのウェイターはお客さんに親切ではない。 あのウェイターはおきゃくさんにしんせつではない。 That waiter is not kind to guests.
  2. In order to make the adjective modification negative and in the past tense one simply needs to add じゃありませんでした or ではありませんでした. And in order to make it more casual one can simply transform the auxiliary verb in the following way.

Ex: じゃありませんでした – It wasn’t

ではありませんでした – Was not

The “i” Japanese Adjectives

As mentioned earlier, all (i) adjectives end in the Hiragana character (い). However, it is important to remember that some (na) adjectives also end in (い). A simply way to differentiate between the two is almost all (na) adjectives that end in (い) are usually written in kanji. As an example “beautiful” (きれい) written in kanji is 綺麗 or 奇麗, since the (い) part of 麗 is a part of the kanji character you know that it can’t be an (i) adjective

  1. 新しい (atarashii)- New
  2. 暖かい (atatakai) –warm
  3. 暑い (atsui) – hot
  4. おいしい (oishii) – delicious
  5. 大きい (ookii) – big
  6. 遅い (osoi)- late/slow
  7. 暗い (kurai) –dark
  8. 近い (chikai) – near
  9. 高い (takai) – Tall/ expensive
  10. 安い (yasui) – cheap
  11. 忙しい (isogashii) – busy
  12. 優しい (yasashii) –easy
  13. うるさい (urusai) – noisy
  14. まずい (mazui) – bad tasting
  15. 寒い ( samui) – cold

In order to express an (い)-adjective in the present tense, simply let it take its original stem form and add an 〜い (already joined). However, one should be aware that in the Japanese language present and future tense are considered one, not separate. Below you’ll find an example of this, Ex: きょうのてんきはいいです – The weather is nice today. あしたのてんきはいいです – The weather (will be) nice tomorrow.

  1. In order to make a present tense (i) adjective negative, simply replace (い) with くない. Ex: さむい → さむくない きょうはさむくないです It is not cold today.
  2. In order to make an (I) adjective negative in the past tense, one can change the (い) with a new conjugation, which is a combination of くない and かった: 〜くなかった (It was: I didn’t.) Ex: 私はしたい → たかくなかった I do want to – I didn’t want to
  3. When it comes to the polite form of (i) adjectives you will need to add the auxiliary verb of です. In order to make it a casual more relaxed from simply remove the です and leave it as is. Ex: いい日です– It is a good day 良い一日 – good day
  4. Another rule to note when it comes to the word “good/well”is that this is the one adjective which written in its kanji form can be read as 良い but also, よい. When used in a positive and present tense either of these can be used without issue, However when transformed into a negative or past tense the stem form of the adjective would be よ instead of い. Ex: 天気が良くない – The weather is not good

Japanese Adjectives to Describe Quantity

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These are the types of adjectives used to define the quantity or amount of an object without having to specify a number. For those new to the language, these could be especially helpful when it comes to situations where specific numbers are forgotten. The word order is usually (noun + particle + quantity + verb). When used to modify adjectives, they are placed before the adjective such as: とても熱い (Totemo atsui – Very hot).

  1. 多い (ooi) – Many
  2. 少ない (sukunai) – Few / less
  3. 少し (sukoshi) – A little
  4. たくさん (takusan) – A lot
  5. 十分な (juubun na) – Enough
  6. 足りない (tarinai) – Not enough
  7. あまり (Amari) –Too much
  8. よく (yoku) – oftentimes / frequent
  9. ちょっと (chotto) A little (casual version)
  10. 多くの(Ōku no) – Plenty
  11. すべての (Subete no) – all (of)
  12. なし (Nashi) –None
  13. 沢山の(Takusan no)- Lots (of)
  14. 多くの (Ōku no) – Most
  15. いくつか (Ikutsu ka) – Some

As we’ve learned when adding さ to an i–adjective it turns into a noun, this is similar to adding “ness” to an English word e.g. tasty  ➝ tastiness, sweet ➝ sweetness. In order to add さ to an i–adjective, you simply remove the final hiragana character い (i) and replace it with さ. This would then change the meaning of the resulting noun into a quantifier of the objective noun in the sentence.

Japanese Adjectives to Describe Characteristics

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These are characteristics that are used quite often in day-to-day conversation. They make descriptors for not only referring to the characteristics of everyday situations but also the people you meet along the way and perhaps even yourself.

  1. こうどうてき (kōdō-teki) –active
  2. せっきょくてき (sekkyokuteki) – aggressive
  3. 不味い (mazui) – Disgusting
  4. 醜い (minikui) Ugly
  5. 高い (takai) –Expensive
  6. 柔らかい (yawarakai) – soft
  7. 強い (tsuyoi) – Hard
  8. 弱い (yowai) – weak
  9. 危ない (abunai) – Dangerous
  10. 丸い (marui) – Round
  11. 鋭い (surudoi)- Sharp
  12. 怖い (kowai)- Scary
  13. おちついた (ochitsuita)- Calm
  14. カリスマせいがある (karisumasei ga aru) – Charismatic
  15. どくそうてき (dokusōteki) – Creative

You’ll notice that 高い is listed here again — it means both “expensive” and “tall/high.” And as for the adjective “noisy”… Well, 騒々しい means “loud” and “noisy,” but stating it as a fact. うるさい is used to describe something or someone who’s loud, annoying, obnoxious, picky, or fussy. So it has the connotation that whatever is “noisy” is also irritating.

Japanese Adjectives to Describe Size and Weight

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When discussing the weight of certain objects, or people we often use adjectives such as fat and heavy, however, there is an entire world of adjectives one could use to describe animate and inanimate objects, for example, when discussing the dimensions or qualities of a cat one could say “fat furry cat”.

  1. 大きい (ookii) – Big
  2. 小さい (chiisai) – Small
  3. 背が高い (se ga takai) – Tall
  4. 背が低い (se ga hikui) – Short
  5. 広い (hiroi) – Wide
  6. 狭い (semai) – Narrow
  7. 太い (futoi) – Thick
  8. 細い (hosoi) – Thin
  9. 重い (omoi) – Heavy
  10. 軽い (karui) – Lightweight
  11. スリム (Surimu) – Slim
  12. 肥満 (Himan) – Obese
  13. 大規模 (Ōkibo) massive
  14. 小柄 (Kogara) – Petite
  15. ミニチュア (Minichua) – Miniature

When making use of some of these adjectives one should tread lightly as some of them can be viewed as insulting, especially in relation to commenting on the bodyweight of a person. Additionally, “thick” is often used to say “fat” as well so care is needed when using those words. Also the kanji 背 means “back” or “spine.” So when you say 背が高い, you’re literally saying “long spine” or “short spine” to describe height.

Japanese Adjectives to Describe Distance and Speed

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The adjectives that are about to be discussed are used to indicate length, distance, speed and depth. For some of them they might be able to be applied to people, however, for the majority of the case it is best to use them in relation to objects.

  1. 長い (nagai) – Long
  2. 短い (mijikai) – Short
  3. 遠い (tooi) – Far
  4. 近い (chikai) – Near
  5. 深い (fukai) – Deep
  6. 浅い (asai) – Shallow
  7. 高い (takai) – high
  8. 低い (hikui) – Low
  9. 速い (hayai) – Fast
  10. 遅い (osoi) – Slow
  11. 早く(Hayaku)- Quickly
  12. 素早く(Subayaku) –Swiftly
  13. さらに遠く(Sarani tōku)-Further
  14. 底なし (Sokonashi) – Bottomless
  15. 伸縮性 (Shinshuku-sei) – Stretchy

短い is “short,” but it’s not used to call someone short. You can describe objects with 短い, though, or things like hair: 髪が短いです. (Kami ga mijikai desu.) 遅い can also mean “late,” as in to show up late to an appointment, or to describe the late hour (遅い時間 – osoi jikan).

Japanese Adjectives to Describe Colors

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The primary colors in Japanese are all i-adjectives, which agrees with the idea that i-adjectives tend to represent more basic concepts than na-adjectives. As with any i-adjective, you simply place the word in front of the noun being coloured. However, when you want to say that something is some colour (the predicate function), you must use the (noun) equivalent of the word. The colours which are い adjectives can be changed into nouns simply by dropping the い. So, 赤い becomes 赤.

  1. 赤い (akai) – Red
  2. オレンジ (orenji) – Orange
  3. 黄色い (kiiroi) – Yellow
  4. 緑 (midori) – Green
  5. 青い (aoi) – Blue
  6. 紫 (murasaki) -Purple
  7. ピンク (pinku) – Pink
  8. 黒い (kuroi) – Black
  9. 白い (shiroi) – White
  10. 灰色 (haiiro) – Grey
  11. 茶色 (chairo) – Brown
  12. ももいろ( momoiro) – Peach
  13. みずいろ (mizuiro) – Light Blue
  14. きみどり (kimiiro) Light green
  15. 真珠のような (Shinju no yōna) Pearly

Some Japanese colors do not fall into the categories of い or な adjectives. When coming across these colors, if one wishes to use them as adjectives, one would need to attach them to the noun using the particle の. An example would be: Ex: みどりの窓口(まどぐち) – Midori no madoguchi Green window

Describing your world in Japanese

Although grasping the many nuances of the Japanese language can sometimes feel daunting, we hope that the above article has simplified aspects for you. Adjectives are a wonderful way to explore any language and bring some diversity and fun to it. Adjectives help to bring a deeper understanding of a noun and can therefore help make a sentence easier to understand or help enliven it. For those learning Japanese we hope that the article has helped to clarify some possible points of confusion as well as provide enlightenment, for more Japanese learning articles (such as numbers in Japanese), feel free to explore our blog for more content. For those seeking to learn more about the Japanese language or the use of adjectives within it, visit AmazingTalker to schedule a professionally taught Japanese lesson with native and qualified teachers.

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