Module 2.3 – いadjectives and なadjectives

We have looked at the “[A] wa [B] desu ([A]=[B])” pattern.

While only nouns and pronouns can be used in [A], adjectives as well as nouns and pronouns can be used in [B].

And you learned a sentence: haha wa yasashii desu. Here, “ yasashii” is an adjective, meaning “nice”.

Adjectives are describing words. They are used to describe a noun. In the following pair, the bold word つめたいtsumetai/cold is the adjective and the underlined word みずmizu/water is the noun that つめたいtsumetai/cold is describing.

このkono みずmizu wa つめたいtsumetai ですdesu。 This water is cold.
これkore wa つめたいtsumetai みずmizu ですdesu。This is cold water.

In the above pair, the top sentence has the adjective between wa and ですdesu (“predicative use”) and the second sentence has the adjective immediately before the noun (“attributive use”).

In Japanese, there are 2 different types of adjectives, iadjectives and naadjectives and these two types behave VERY differently from each other.


iadjectives all end in the Hiragana i (thus they are called iadjectives). Note that when we write a Japanese word using Roomaji (English alphabet), most words end in a vowel letter, a, e, i, o or u.  Thus, there are many words that end in i such as okashi (snack food), uchi (home, inside), etc. but okashi and uchi do not count as ending in い because the letter before i is NOT a vowel and they are written as おかし and うち respectively. As you can see, they do not end in い.
If written in Roomaji, all “i” adjectives end in -ai, -ei, -ii, -oi or –ui (i.e. the Roomaji letter before the last i must be another vowel letter).

i-adjectives can be used before a noun as well as between wa and desu without having to add anything to it.

  • yasashii hito (a nice person)
  • haha wa yasashii desu. (my mum is nice.)


naadjectives are usually* made of all Katakana or Kanji characters even though they are written in Hiragana here, The definitive difference appears when they are used in front of a noun (in the “attributive use”); that is, only naadjectives need na if they are used in front of a noun, thus they are called naadjectives!

While iadjectives all end in the Hiragana i, not all adjectives ending in i are iadjectives, unfortunately. ゆうめいyuumei ends in –i when written in Hiragana, but normally it is written 有名 in Kanji and means “famous” or “well-known” and it is a naadjective. That means, you need na between ゆうめいyuumei and the noun after, which is ほんhon here.

このkono ほんhonwa ゆうめいyuumei ですdesu。= This book is famous.
これkorewa ゆうめいyuumeina ほんhon ですdesu。= This is a famous book.

For a list of naadjective which ends in –i, click here.

* The only naadjective that ends in the Hiragana –i and that you need to know as a beginner is 嫌いkirai (dislike, unfond).

More examples


このkono ほんhonwa ゆうめいyuumei ですdesu。This book is famous.
これkorewa ゆうめいyuumeina ほんhon ですdesu。This is a famous book.

そのsono もんだいmondaiwa かんたんkantan ですdesu。This question is easy.
それsorewa かんたんkantanna もんだいmondai ですdesu。This is an easy question.

あのano かばんkabanwa じょうぶjoubu ですdesu。That bag is strong.
あれarewa じょうぶjoubuna かばんkaban ですdesu。That is a strong bag.

あのano こうえんkouenwa しずかshizuka ですdesu。That park is quiet.
あれarewa しずかshizukana こうえんkouen ですdesu。That is a quiet park.


このkono みずmizuwa つめたいtsumetai ですdesu。 This water is cold.
これkorewa つめたいtsumetaiみずmizu ですdesu。This is cold water.

このkono ケーキkeekiwa おいしいoishii ですdesu。 This cake is delicious.
これkorewa おいしいoishii ケーキkeeki ですdesu。This is a delicious cake.

このkono セーターseetaawa あたたかいatatakai ですdesu。This jumper is warm.
これkorewa あたたかいatatakai セーターseetaa ですdesu。This is a warm jumper.

そのsono はなしhanashiwa みじかいmijikai ですdesu。That story is short.
それsorewa みじかいmijikai はなしhanashi ですdesu。That is a short story.

あのano まんがmangawa つまらないtsumaranai ですdesu。That cartoon is boring.
あれarewa つまらないtsumaranai まんがmanga ですdesu。That is a boring cartoon.

New Vocabulary

あたたかいatatakaiいadjnot too cold, warm, mild
かんたんkantanなadjsimple, easy
じょうぶjoubuなadjstrong, solid, durable
つまらないtsumaranaiいadjinsignificant, boring
みじかいmijikaiいadjshort (opposite of long)
かばんkabannounbag (usually with a fixed shape)
こうえんkouennoun(public) park, playground
セーターseetaanounsweater, jumper
はなしhanashinountalk, story
まんがmanganounmanga, comics, a cartoon
もんだいmondainounproblem, question

Suggested activities

If a sentence below starts with このkonoそのsonoあのano, change it to a sentence starting with これkoreそれsoreあれare or vise-versa. Check your answer with above examples.

  1. あのano かばんkabanwa じょうぶjoubu ですdesu
  2. あのano こうえんkouenwa しずかshizuka ですdesu
  3. あれarewa つまらないtsumaranai まんがmanga ですdesu
  4. このkono セーターseetaawa あたたかいatatakai ですdesu
  5. このkono ほんhonwa ゆうめいyuumei ですdesu
  6. このkono みずmizuwa つめたいtsumetai ですdesu
  7. これkorewa おいしいoishii ケーキkeeki ですdesu
  8. そのsono もんだいmondaiwa かんたんkantan ですdesu
  9. それsorewa みじかいmijikai はなしhanashi ですdesu

Related Posts

You can try doing Exercises 4 to 8 of Module 2 of the Moodle Course.

Course: JLPT N5