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Ookii vs ookina

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ANSWERED BY: Oracle Posted on 08-03-2006 10:30

To me 小さい and 小さな are pretty much the same thing, 小さな doesn't mean "smallest", it just means "small", like 小さい。 I do tend to use one or the other in certain situations though, but can't say exactly why.. I think it's like "small" and "little" in English. One of them just tends to sound better

Anyway, I couldn't find anything on 小さい vs 小さな but here's an interesting article on a web site for teachers of Japanese about the difference between ookii vs ookina (all Japanese, sorry) which I guess we can extend to 小さい・小さな:

English summary:

1) 大きい (ookii) is used before the noun it's describing, or anywhere else in a sentence 大きな (ookina) can only be used before the object it's describing

大きい車 (ookii kuruma) <- OK あの車は大きい。 (ano kuruma wa ookii.) <- OK 大きな車 (ookina kuruma)<- OK あの車は大きな。 (ano kuruma wa ookina.) <- NOT OK

2) 大きい is for physical "bigness" only, while 大きな can mean both big for both physical AND "abstract" things/attributes


もう少し大きいサイズはありますか? mou sukoshi ookii saizu wa arimasu ka? Have you got a larger size? (a shirt, whatever)

You can replace 大きい with 大きな in this sentence and it means the same thing because a shirt is a physical thing wih a measurable size.

大きな問題 ("big problem") is correct rather than 大きい問題 because a "problem" is abstract and doesn't actually have a 'size' which you can measure.

大きい人 and 大きな人 are both correct but 大きい人 just means someone who is physcially big, while 大きな人 can mean a person is physically big OR a person who is has personality emotional traits which are described as "large" in Japanese.

Anway, according to the site that's how they're supposed to be different, though it says there are exceptions and idioms which use one or the other in defiance of the rules. In real life you see them used interchangeably all the time, but I guess this is better than no explanation at all

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