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Thread: Japanese Adjectives

  1. #1
    Global Moderator 九千以上だ! / Kyuusen Ijou Da! / It's Over 9000! phio_chan's Avatar
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    Japanese Adjectives

    Hello.

    I want to ask a question about Japanese adjectives. There are 2 group of adjectives, right, the "na" and "i" adjectives. In a book I used for studying, I have a word "akarui" (bright, lovely). I then learned about how to use more than one adjective in a sentence. For "na" adjectives we use "de" and for "i" adjectives we use "-kute". I also learned about how to say what I think ("to omoimasu"). However I found a contradiction:

    リエさんはあかるくてきれいです。

    リエさんはあかるいだとおもいます。

    The first line treated "akarui" as an "i" adjective but the second line treated is as "na" adjective. What kind of adjective is "akarui" actually?

    And is there an efficient way to differentiate "na" and "i" adjective besides memorizing them? XD In my book it's said that any adjective ending with "-ei" is always "na" adjective. As for "i" adjectives they mostly end with "-ii".

    Thanks for answering!

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    Translator 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member cmertb's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese Adjectives

    These are very different sentences.

    You use -te forms of verbs and i adjectives, and append de to nouns and na adjectives when you have equivalent clauses. I.e. rie-san wa akarui and rie-san wa kirei are two equal clauses. In your second sentence, one clause is subordinate to the other. The main clause is X wa omou (X stands for the missing subject, but we can assume it's "I", i.e. watashi wa omou). The subordinate clause specifies exactly what you think: rie-san wa akarui. In English, you'd say "I think that Rie-san is bright", where you can clearly see which clause is the main one, and which one's subordinate. In subordinate clauses, you don't use the -te/de forms, that's why it ends in akarui da, instead of akarukute.

    Anyway, I think there is a rule for telling i-adj from na-adj, but it's sort of useless. You don't get fluent by applying rules, you get fluent by memorizing every collocation so you don't have to think about rules. It just comes from practice, not necessarily purposeful memorization. But anyway, i-adjectives are adjectives that end in 'i' where 'i' is not a part of the word stem. In Japanese writing, the stem is typically a kanji. If you look at 明るい, you see that the whole -rui part is written in kana, so you know for sure that 'i' isn't in the stem. But if you look at 綺麗 what you see is that the on-yomi of the 2nd kanji is 'rei', so it's a part of the stem and is therefore immutable. That's what makes it a na-adj. I think there are some na-adj where 'i' isn't in the stem either, but there's always a logical reason, you just need to look up the origin of the word and its kanji spelling. Which is to say, if you're serious about Japanese, learn kanji as soon as possible.
    Last edited by cmertb; January 26, 2013 at 10:09 PM.

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    Global Moderator 九千以上だ! / Kyuusen Ijou Da! / It's Over 9000! phio_chan's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese Adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by cmertb View Post
    These are very different sentences.

    You use -te forms of verbs and i adjectives, and append de to nouns and na adjectives when you have equivalent clauses. I.e. rie-san wa akarui and rie-san wa kirei are two equal clauses. In your second sentence, one clause is subordinate to the other. The main clause is X wa omou (X stands for the missing subject, but we can assume it's "I", i.e. watashi wa omou). The subordinate clause specifies exactly what you think: rie-san wa akarui. In English, you'd say "I think that Rie-san is bright", where you can clearly see which clause is the main one, and which one's subordinate. In subordinate clauses, you don't use the -te/de forms, that's why it ends in akarui da, instead of akarukute.
    The "akarui" in the first sentence is treated as "i" adjective because it's connected using "-kute". But the second sentence uses "akarui da to omoimasu", which treats "akarui" as a "na" adjective. I mean, if "akarui" is "i" adjective, the second sentence should be "akarui to omoimasu", right? Because the book says that for "i" adjectives you don't need the "da".

    Quote Originally Posted by cmertb View Post
    Anyway, I think there is a rule for telling i-adj from na-adj, but it's sort of useless. You don't get fluent by applying rules, you get fluent by memorizing every collocation so you don't have to think about rules. It just comes from practice, not necessarily purposeful memorization. But anyway, i-adjectives are adjectives that end in 'i' where 'i' is not a part of the word stem. In Japanese writing, the stem is typically a kanji. If you look at 明るい, you see that the whole -rui part is written in kana, so you know for sure that 'i' isn't in the stem. But if you look at 綺麗 what you see is that the on-yomi of the 2nd kanji is 'rei', so it's a part of the stem and is therefore immutable. That's what makes it a na-adj. I think there are some na-adj where 'i' isn't in the stem either, but there's always a logical reason, you just need to look up the origin of the word and its kanji spelling. Which is to say, if you're serious about Japanese, learn kanji as soon as possible.
    Thanks for the explanation! To be honest I've thought like that before since there didn't seem to be any fixed method on deciding them. Yeah, kanji is definitely very important. I'm trying to find the suitable studying method for me. The book I'm using only covers few common kanji so maybe I'll go find another book which focuses on kanji. I'm trying to figure out how to use Anki on my tablet but I'm still confused about it. XDD

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    Translator 上級員 / Jyoukuuin / Sr. Member cmertb's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese Adjectives

    Oh, if you're asking specifically about "da" in the 2nd sentence, normally you wouldn't use it. Hmm, I've never thought about it, and I don't know if it's wrong to use "da" with i-adj, or if it's simply unnecessary and no one does it, but I suppose you can say that sentence is a bad example, and maybe even incorrect.

    For kanji, I can recommend a book that worked very well for me: Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji". If you use it together with Anki (which has a shared Heisig deck) and http://kanji.koohii.com/ it should be doable in a reasonable amount of time (55 days for 2042 kanji for me).

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    Translator/Moderator 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member
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    Re: Japanese Adjectives

    リエさんはあかるくてきれいです。 Rie is cheerful and pretty.

    cheerful: あかるい(i-adjective. When followed by a noun, use it as is and do not add "な." When it is not followed by a noun, don't add da/だ)

    pretty: きれい(na-adjective. When followed by a noun, add na/な. When it is not followed by a noun, add da/だ ) Though きれい ends with -i, it is not an i-adjective

    あかるいXX(noun)
    XXはあかるい。

    きれいXX(noun)
    XXはきれい


    リエさんはあかるいだとおもいます。 <------?????
    I think Rie is cheerful: リエさんは、あかるいおもいます。

    You can't add だ to あかるい.

    Instead of saying あかるいとおもいます, say あかるいひと(人)とおもいます。<--- a cheerful person

    edit/add
    either one works with だと
    ひと:a person
    せいかく: personality
    Last edited by mikkih; January 28, 2013 at 04:45 PM. Reason: edit/add
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    Global Moderator 九千以上だ! / Kyuusen Ijou Da! / It's Over 9000! phio_chan's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese Adjectives

    Thank you, both of you! So "akarui" is an i-adjective, okay, got it. That's what I was curious about since the book was inconsistent.

    Quote Originally Posted by cmertb View Post
    For kanji, I can recommend a book that worked very well for me: Heisig's "Remembering the Kanji". If you use it together with Anki (which has a shared Heisig deck) and http://kanji.koohii.com/ it should be doable in a reasonable amount of time (55 days for 2042 kanji for me).
    I'm currently looking for some kanji books here, including that, physically. I'm starting to wonder if I may have to resort to online shopping. ^^; But thank you for your suggestions! :3

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    Registered User 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Aarowaim's Avatar
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    Re: Japanese Adjectives

    You know what the real difference is? An -i adjective is a verb with its own set of conjugations. A -na adjective is actually a noun and use な instead of の whenever attached in front of a noun. I hate how grammar books introduce them at the same time because neither one is a true 'adjective' beyond that they modify nouns. A verbal adjective will always end in い or its conjugations.

    It takes a bit to get used to them, but if you think of -na adjectives as nouns that use な as a possessive, it's easier. By the way, nouns can take だ, but verbs cannot. In essence, japanese can be broken down into verbs/adverbs, nouns, and particles. Anyways, -i adjectives are true adjectives; -na adjectives are just special nouns.

    There are two main approaches to memorizing kanji. The thing is, you'll have to memorize them either way you go. On one hand, you can memorize a list. If you decide to do it this way, I recommend Anki, and that you never strip the kanji from context; Always include either the kanji in a word, or the english meaning (Heisig's remembering the kanji helps a lot). The other option is one that I enjoy doing. Rather than finding a list of kanji, find a favourite j-pop song or manga. If you cannot understand it, translate it bit by bit and mark down what the english meaning of each word is (or find a pre-existing translation). From there, memorize it until you can 'read' or sing along without having to struggle to recall the meaning. If you can keep up with the song and not pause to remember the meaning, you're done; if you can't, keep replaying and follow along with the lyrics written in japanese. Same with a manga; read the page over and over again until you don't need to pause to understand it.

    It may sound hard, but memorizing little chunks of japanese until you can comprehend them perfectly will give you some really strong footholds when you want to listen to other music/read other manga. For example if I were to encounter any of the words used in 'Link' by Angela, I would recognize them almost instantaneously. Likewise, any words from the first few pages of Kandachime or Dantalian no Shouka would be easy for me to read and understand. The essence of this second approach is to give strong footholds, rather than to give you many footholds. A list is fine, but easy to forget; a song is fun and relevant to you, which makes it easier to find motivation. If you need translations for any j-pop, the best place I know is http://www.animelyrics.com
    Last edited by Aarowaim; February 11, 2013 at 12:07 AM.

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