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Onomatopoeia words are used far more in Japanese than in English.

擬音語 (ぎおんご) onomatopoeia (words that describe actual sounds like the sound of a dog ワンワン)
擬態語 (ぎたいご) mimetic word (every other type often describing emotions)

These words can be used in many different ways - some shown below in approximate reverse order of popularity:

  • 1. With 'と' as a pseudo-adverb.

夜空に星がきらきらと輝いていた。 Stars were twinkling in the sky.

  • 2. As an adverb (e.g. with the 'と' dropped).

夜空に星がきらきら輝いていた。 Stars were twinkling in the sky.

  • 3. With 'する' as a 'suru-verb'.

その車はワックスがかけられてピカピカしている。 The car is waxed and shining.

  • 4. As a noun (often with の modifying another word)

トムは車をピカピカの新車で買った。 Tom bought a car brand-new.

Historically many of the long established onomatopeia words were taru-adjectives (taru-adjectives generally became to-adverbs in the same way as naru-adjectives generally became na-adjectives).

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