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Adjectives are split into two groups, -i adjectives and -na adjectives. 

The -na adjectives pretty much act as nouns. However, instead of modifying another noun with a の [an example of a noun modifying another is, となり の 犬 tonari no inu (the dog next door; next door's dog)], -na adjectives modify a noun with a な na.

An example of an -na adjective is げんき genki (healthy, vigorous, energetic…)

元気(げんき) (いぬ)

genki na inu
an energetic dog 

  • You only use the な na ending when placed before nouns. Therefore, some words will simply have to be memorized as -na adjectives. Some even end in -i such as きれい kirei (pretty, beautiful) even though these are not -adjectives.
  • Many -na adjectives are usually made of two kanji. For example [きれい is 綺麗 || すてき is 素敵] Whereas -i adjectives are usually made of one kanji plus at least one hiragana and ends in a hiragana i. This isn't always true, but it is a good rule of thumb.

SENTENCE #1: non-past lone adjective

あなたは  きれい  です。
anata wa kirei desu.
You are beautiful.
Here the adjective kirei (beautiful) is used by itself (not modifying a noun or anything). It doesn’t change at all.
  • Easy enough! But let’s add a noun…

SENTENCE #2: non-past modifying adjective

あなたは きれい  な  人 です。
anata wa kirei na hito desu.
You are a beautiful person.
Now, the adjective kirei is modifying a noun hito (person). Therefore the –na is added.
  • for -na adjectives, the only change is to add or take away the na . Let’s go negative…

SENTENCE #3: non-past negative

あなたは きれい では ありません。
anata wa kirei dewa arimasen.
You are NOT beautiful.
Notice the -na adjective doesn’t change. With -i adjectives , the adjective changes and not the verb [anata wa kawakunai desu. You are not cute.]

SENTENCE #4: past

あなたは きれい でした。
anata wa kirei deshita.
You were beautiful.
Again nothing changes but the verb. –na adjectives act very much like nouns.
  • Easy! Just remember the -na is added before nouns >>> kirei na neko – beautiful cat

SENTENCE #5: past negative

あなたは きれい では ありません でした。
anata wa kirei dewa arimasen deshita.
You were not beautiful.
Once again we simply treat the -na adjective as a noun and only the verb changes. The familiar form would be anata wa kirei ja nakatta.


*** I SUGGEST MEMORIZING A FEW GOOD ONE-WORD EXAMPLES. THE FOLLOWING ARE USED JUST AS THEY ARE VERY OFTEN IN JAPANESE:

– by itself

しずか
shizuka
quiet

べんり
benri
(That’s) convenient!
– modifying a noun; add -na
しずか な (ところ)
shizuka na (tokoro)
A quiet (place.)
べんり な (ところ)
benri na (tokoro )
a convenient (place!)


A list of common beginner level -na adjectives with readings. Click the "Download Worksheet" to, well, download a worksheet on the following vocabulary words.

  • げんき genki – 元気 healthy; feeling fine
  • すき suki – 好き like
  • ゆうめい yuumei – 有名 famous
  • しずか shizuka – 静か silent; quiet
  • きれい kirei – 綺麗 beautiful; clean; tidy
  • おなじ onaji – 同じ the same; alike
  • いろいろ iroiro – 色々 various; several
  • けっこう kekkou – 結構 quite; fairly; well; good; fine
  • じょうず jouzu – 上手 skill; proficiency
  • じょうぶ joubu – 丈夫 healthy; strong
  • たいせつ taisetsu – 大切 important
  • だいじょうぶ daijoubu – 大丈夫 safe, all right, OK
  • だいすき daisuki – 大好き like (a lot); love
  • にぎやか nigiyaka – 賑やか busy; bustling
  • ひま hima – 暇 free-time
  • へた heta – 下手 unskilled
  • べんり benri – 便利 convenience; convenient
  • りっぱ rippa – 立派 fine; handsome; splendid
  • たいへん taihen – 大変 very; greatly; serious; hard
  • まっすぐ massugu – 真直ぐ straight; direct; upright

Examples

その(ほん)()きです。

I like this book.

(ほん hon – book)
好き (すき suki – like)

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