Anime Japanese – Adjectives Are Everywhere

You can understand a lot from a situation in anime simply from learning adjectives.

Adjectives are used all the time in anime. Their use ranges from a single statement describing the obvious (i.e “it’s hot”), to describing a person or situation in a complex sentence, but even then it’s incredibly useful to have a grasp of adjectives when you watch anime.


Two types of adjectives

It’s important to understand the two types of adjectives in Japanese. On their own there’s not much difference, but when changing the tense, or combining them with other words (i.e using grammar with adjectives) each type gets changed differently.

The first, and most recognisable are I-Adjectives (pronounced ee-Adjectives). Distinguishable from the い (i) at the end. Such as:

たかい – takai = tall
はやい – hayai = fast
おそい – osoi = slow
あつい – atsui = hot
さむい – samui = cold
ちいさい – chiisai = small
おおきい – ookii = big

A cute guide to some adjectives by Hde-and-seek

The second are Na-Adjectives. These are harder to spot as they are adjectives which don’t have a common ending like I-adjectives. That is unless they are before a noun when な (na) is added. For example:

ばか – baka = stupid
ばかひと – bakana hito = stupid person

てんさい – tensai = genius
てんさいひと – tensaina hito = genius person

There are some irregular adjectives you need to be careful of, luckily there aren’t that many.

いい – ii = good   ->   This is an I-Adjective which is irregular because of how it changes when grammar (such as past tense) is applied to it. (For more information on adjective grammar click here)

かわいい – kawaii = cute    ->    Although this may look like an I-Adjective it is actually a Na-adjective. However, Japanese people are lazy and will often use it like an I-Adjective in informal circumstances such as anime.

Useful Memrise courses for learning adjectives:

So how do you learn your adjectives? Obviously watching lots of anime is helpful for practice, but actually learning them on the side will make them stick out and cement themselves in your mind much faster.

I will always suggest you use memrise, but quite often you need to know hiragana and katakana to get the most out of the program (and most Japanese learning resources).

Once you know the kanas you need to learn some adjectives!
If you want to take you adjective learning even further you can start by learning basic grammar for your adjectives!
  • If you want to learn the grammar for the different verb types try the lessons 47-57 on the Beginners Japanese Grammar by JTalk Online.
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