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-i Adjectives

About -i Adjectives in Japanese

A Prelude...
  • Adjectives in Japanese are very different from English adjectives in that they can change. That is, they have a different form for the past & negative tenses. (not too difficult though!)
  • Also note that the endings of -i adjectives are like the endings of verbs... You'll see...
始めましょう! Let's begin...

Adjectives are split into 2 groups.  -i adjectives and -na adjectives.    For -na adjectives click here


Examples of -i adjectives are さむい samui (cold) and あつい atsui (hot) [notice they both end with an -i]  

The past tense of -i adjectives is formed by dropping the -i  and adding ' katta ' samu katta (was cold) & atsu katta (was hot)

The negative (non past) is formed by dropping the -i and adding ' kunai ' samu kunai (not cold) & atsu kunai (not hot)


SENTENCE #1: non-past lone adjective!

北海道は  さむい  です。
hokkaidou wa samui desu.
Hokkaido is cold.
Here the adjective samui is used by itself (not modifying a noun or anything) so it doesn't change at all!
  • Easy enough! But let's add a noun...

SENTENCE #2: non-past modifying adjective!

北海道は  さむい  ところ です。
hokkaidou wa samui tokoro desu.
Hokkaido is a cold place.
This sentence is just like above but now the adjective samui is modifying a noun tokoro (place) BUT it doesn't change either (just like the English)! [just wait until you get to the -na adjectives! Then it will change - hold your horses...]
  • for -i adjectives there is no change of the adjective behind a noun or on its own. But let's go negative...

SENTENCE #3: non-past negative!

フロリダは  さむくない  です。
furorida wa samukunai desu.
Florida is NOT cold.
Now we have the first change. Unlike English, adjectives change when the sentence is negative. It may seem strange at first, but you will get used to it! Simply drop the -i and add the -kunai . Before a noun it would be the same samukunai tokoro (not a cold place)

SENTENCE #4: past!

この 冬は さむかった  です。
kono fuyu wa samu katta desu.
This winter was cold.
For the past tense drop the -i and add -katta ; Note: very often the desu at the end is dropped
  • The above represent the most common usage of -i adjectives. But there is also...

SENTENCE #5: past negative!

夏は さむ くなかった  です。
natsu wa samu kuna katta desu.
Summer was not cold.
This is a mutation of the negative and the past endings. Do you get it?
  • Actually there are more ways to add endings to adjectives, but maybe 99% of the time the above will do...

I SUGGEST MEMORIZING A FEW GOOD ONE-WORD EXAMPLES. THE FOLLOWING ARE USED JUST AS THEY ARE VERY OFTEN IN JAPANESE: Once you learn these very useful words, you should be able to figure out how to correctly say other adjectives' forms.


(That's) interesting (or fun)!

(That's) delicious!
-kunai おもしろくない
omoshiro kunai
(That's) not interesting.
oishi kunai
(That's) not delicious.
-katta おもしろかった
omoshiro katta
(That) was interesting!
oishi katta
(That) was delicious
-kunakatta おもしろくなかった
omoshiro kuna katta
(That) was not interesting
oishi kuna katta
(That) was not delicious

As I mentioned at the top, the endings for -i adjectives are the same as verb endings


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In "SENTENCE #4: past!", you say:

"この 冬は さむかった  です。
kono fuyu wa samu katta desu.
This winter was cold."

Why is desu used and not deshita?

Ranja's picture

Don't know why

The formal way of saying it is "この 冬は さむう ございました", but it sounds too formal today.
The expression さむかった です is relatively new, and it still doesn't sound comfortable to me.

Ranja's picture

フロリダは  さむく ありません

>「フロリダは  さむくない です」


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