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There are two types of adjectives in modern Japanese: な- and い-adjectives. Both are descriptive and modify nouns. They describe nouns and form predicates differently.

The な-adjectives (形容動詞, けいようどうし) conjugate with nouns by appending "〜な" before the following noun.

Watch and Listen[edit]

Listen to the teacher read the following phrases, or click About this sound here to listen on your computer.

Adjective Noun Adjective and noun
元気(げんき)だ。 (ひと)だ。 元気(げんき)(ひと)だ。
奇麗(きれい)だ。 (おんな)だ。 奇麗(きれい)(おんな)だ。
ハンサムだ。 (おとこ)だ。 ハンサムな(おとこ)だ。
優秀(ゆうしゅう)だ。 学生(がくせい)だ。 優秀(ゆうしゅう)学生(がくせい)だ。
有名(ゆうめい)だ。 歌手(かしゅ)だ。 有名(ゆうめい)歌手(かしゅ)だ。
大切(たいせつ)だ。 授業(じゅぎょう)だ。 大切(たいせつ)授業(じゅぎょう)だ。
簡単(かんたん)だ。 宿題(しゅくだい)だ。 簡単(かんたん)宿題(しゅくだい)だ。


English Japanese Reading Notes
person, people ひと
woman おんな
man おとこ
class (session, not group of people), lecture 授業 じゅぎょう
homework 宿題 しゅくだい
English Japanese Reading Notes
beautiful; clean, tidy 奇麗 きれい
handsome ハンサム ハンサム
excellent 優秀 ゆうしゅう
famous 有名 ゆうめい
important 大切 たいせつ
simple, easy 簡単 かんたん


な-Adjective Predicates[edit]

When used as predicates, な-adjectives behave just like nouns:

<な-adjective> です


奇麗(きれい)です。 (She) is pretty. (formal)
有名(ゆうめい)です。 (It) is famous. (formal)
簡単(かんたん)です。 (This) is simple. (formal)
元気(げんき)だ。 (I'm) well. (informal)
ハンサムだ。 (He) is handsome. (informal)
優秀(ゆうしゅう)だ。 (They) are bright. (informal)
大切(たいせつ)だ。 (That) is important. (informal)
Related lesson

Note that the pronouns are usually dropped when they can be inferred from context. The pronouns in the English version are examples only to make better formed English sentences. For example, "元気(げんき)だ" can mean any of: "I'm well," "He's well," "They're well," etc.

な-Adjectives noun modifiers[edit]

When preceding a modified noun, な-adjectives take a "な" before the noun:

<な-adjective> な <noun> です


English Adjective noun sentence
a healthy person 元気(げんき) (ひと) 元気(げんき)(ひと)です。
a famous doctor 有名(ゆうめい) 医者(いしゃ) 有名(ゆうめい)医者(いしゃ)です。
an important class 大切(たいせつ) 授業(じゅぎょう) 大切(たいせつ)授業(じゅぎょう)です。


Try writing and speaking out the following sentences in Japanese:

Formal Japanese

  1. I am well.
  2. He is bright.
  3. She is famous.
  4. That is simple.
  5. She is a pretty woman.
  6. He is a healthy man.
  7. This is an important class.
  8. They are bright students.

Informal Japanese

  1. He is famous.
  2. She is well.
  3. They are bright.
  4. This is important.
  5. He is a handsome man.
  6. She is an important person.
  7. This is a tidy classroom.
  8. They are healthy students.

Other ideas for practice include:

  • Write な-adjectives on pieces of paper along with nouns and keep these in separate stacks. Pick one of each and say the sentence.
  • Now write the English on the other side and repeat, this time translating as well.
  • Make pictures to represent the sentences and drill with those.
  • Write a short story or describe something that happened to you.

If you need help gathering adjectives, you can search for lists on smart.fm. To check your story, you can post it on Lang-8.