Module 5.2 – This cake is VERY sweet

Adjectives vs Adverbs

According to my Oxford English dictionary, adjective and adverb are defines as:

  • Adjective: a word naming an attribute of a noun, such as sweet, red or technical
  • Adverb: a word or phrase that modifies the meaning of an adjective (including prenoun adjunct), verb, or other adverb or of a sentence

Adverb list

いつもalways, every time
おおぜいa great number of people
すぐimmediately, instantly
すぐにimmediately, instantly
すこしlittle, few
たくさんmany, a lot, much
たぶんperhaps, probably
だんだんgradually, by degrees
ちょうどjust, right, exactly
ちょっとa little, somewhat
はじめてfor the first time
またagain, and
まっすぐstraight (ahead), direct
ゆっくりslowly, at ease
よくfrequently, often
よくwell, skillfully


In the following example, adverbs are shown in bold and what is modified by the adverb is shown in Italics.

Examples of adverbs modifying an adjective

  1. このケーキはとてもあまいです。
    This cake is very sweet.
  2. あのもんだいはたいへんむずかしかったです。
    That question was very difficult.
  3. このくつはちょうどいいです。
    These shoes are just fine.

Examples of adverbs modifying a verb

  1. しんかんせんは はやく はしります
    Shinkansen runs fast.
  2. すぐかえります
    I will go home immediately.
  3. すぐにたべました。
    We ate it immediately.
  4. きのうはビールをたくさん*のみました
    I had plenty of beer yesterday.
  5. きのうはワインをちょっと*のみました
    I had a small amount of wine yesterday.
  6. よくできました
    Well done.
  7. ひとが おおぜい います
    There are a great number of people.

* In Japanese, phrases for a quantity or a number are often inserted as an adverb.

Examples of adverbs modifying another adverb

  1. しんかんせんは とても はやく はしります。
    Shinkansen runs very fast.
  2. すこしおそくなりました。
    I was a bit late.

Examples of adverb modifying a sentence

  1. ときどき あめが ふります
    Sometimes it rains.
  2. ははとよくでんわではなしをします。
    I talk with my mum on the phone often.
  3. いつも バスで がっこうに いきます
    I always go to school by bus.
  4. はじめてくるまをうんてんしました
    I drove a car for the first time.
  5. たぶんジョンさんのパーティーにいきます
    Probably I will go to John’s party.
  6. またきょうとにいきたいです
    I want to go to Kyoto again.
  7. ゆっくりおふろにはいりました
    I had a bath leisurely.

It is common that adverbs are placed immediately before the word/phrase/sentence that it is modifying but it can be placed almost anywhere in the sentence.

Suggested activities

  • Make a few sentences each for the adverb shown as examples.
Course: JLPT N5