February 26, 2023

Fun Japanese ~り Onomatopoeia Adverbs

Here are a few fun words all ending with a り. These onomatopoeia are adverbs (modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs) or する nouns. If you are a Makoto+ member, here's your bonus download

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Bonus Download

Before we get started, if you are a Makoto+ member (any level), great news! You can download bonus content for this lesson. Download a 12 page PDF that covers 50 more of these special words. The download also includes all the example sentences sound files, and a 100 card Anki flashcard deck with pitch accent diagrams and sound. Click here if you are a member. Click here if you aren't a member to learn more about our Makoto+ membership program. It's cheap in price but not in content!

About these Words

This collection of words are hard to classify neatly other than:

  • They all are made of four hiragana,
  • End in ~り,
  • Most include a small っ, and
  • Most are onomatopoeic

They are adverbs, but not always. Some can be adjectives or する verbs. びっくり (to be surprised) is usually a する verb, for example.

The と after Onomatopoeic Words

You’ll notice a と placed after some of the words in the example sentences. This is because these words are onomatopoeic in nature and onomatopoeic adverbs are often followed by the と particle.

This doesn’t change the meaning, but gives emphasis to the word.

Some words sound better with the と, some sound better without it, and sometimes it is just added for emphasis. Unfortunately, this is just something you'll have to get a feel for through experience.

Sound as Meaning

Onomatopoeic sounds in Japanese convey meaning much more so than in English. Keeping this in mind might help remember these words. Also, the small っ often describes something that comes and goes suddenly. For example: 

  • さっ words tend to emphasize “speed” or “nimbleness”
  • ばっ words are sudden and explosive
  • きらっ words flash brightly

Ready to get started? Let's learn these 12 very useful ~り words. Spend time working through the example sentences to understand how they are used.

びっくり To Be Surprised


Someone suddenly tapped me on the shoulder, surprising me.


がっかり To Be Disappointed


This week’s test score was bad, therefore I was deeply disappointed.


こっそり Stealthily


Someone was sneaking around the house, so I called the police.


のんびり In a Relaxed Manner


This week was busy so tomorrow I will take it easy.


そっくり Exactly Like


Those two, being twins, look exactly the same.


うっかり Carelessly


I went to the supermarket wanting to go shopping when I realized I had carelessly forgotten my wallet.


たっぷり In Plenty


He slept plenty.


ちょっぴり A Tiny Bit


That child only ate a little bit of his/her veggies.


ゆっくり Slowly


At the zoo, the lion slowly walked around his cage.


うっとり With Rapt Attention


She looked at a photo of an actor she likes with rapt attention.


はっきり Clearly


When I changed glasses, I was able to see everything clearly.


すっきり Refreshingly


After cleaning, the whole house was pleasantly refreshed.


Want more? Members get 50 more words!

Bonus Download

If you are a Makoto+ member (any level), great news! You can download bonus content for this lesson. Download a 12 page PDF that covers 50 more of these special words. The download also includes all the example sentences sound files, and a 100 card Anki flashcard deck. Click here if you are a memberClick here if you aren't a member to learn more about our Makoto+ membership program. It's cheap in price but not in content!

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