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December 28, 2022

Basic Colors in Japanese for Beginners

色々(いろいろ)(いろ)

Various Colors in Japanese

Click here to download a free printable word search for the vocabulary found in this lesson

The Japanese word for “color” is 色 iro. The pun at the top of the page sounds like it repeats "iro" several times, but it means "various colors." 

Grammatically, colors are used in two ways: as nouns and as adjectives.

The actual color names as nouns are listed in the colored area. The examples below show how to use the colors as nouns and how to make them into adjectives. When used as an adjective, most color names add a い.

黄色(きいろ)

ki iro

yellow

1) 黄色きいろはきれい。  Yellow is pretty. (This is a noun)


2) 黄色(きいろ)(とり)はきれいです。 The yellow bird is pretty. (This is an adjective and adds the い)

(あお)

ao

blue

1) (から)(あお)いです。 The sky is blue.


2) あの(あお)(いけ)はきれいです。That blue pond is pretty.

(あか)

aka

red

1) このはなあかいです。 This flower is red.


2) これは(あか)(はなです。 This is a red flower.

(しろ)

shiro

white

1) (ゆき)(しろ)い。Snow is white.


2) 外国人(がいこくじん)(しろ)いごはんをあまりたべない。Foreigners don’t usually eat plain, white rice (with no butter or salt…).

(くろ)

kuro

black

(くろ)(ふく)()きじゃない。 I don’t like black clothes.

灰色(はいいろ)

hai iro

gray

<to make this into an adjective that connects to another word, add の no>

1) 灰色(はいいろ)のくつしたがほしい。 I want grey socks.

(むらさき)

murasaki

purple

1) (むらさき)のはなが一番好(いちばんす)き。I like purple flowers the best.

(みどり)

midori

green

1) 信号(しんごう)(みどり)です。 The traffic light is green.


2) (うし)(みどり)(くさ)()べている。The cow is eating green grass.


OTHER NOTES:

  • In Japanese, the word for “Black & White” is actually “White & Black” – 白黒(しろくろ) 
  • In Japan, traffic light signals are said to be RED (あか) , BLUE (あお) (not green), and YELLOW ()
  • Most Japanese children draw the sun not yellow but RED (あか) 
  • Color words often find themselves in people's names: 青木(あおき)
  • Polar Bears are White bears in Japanese 白熊(しろくま)

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