Using Na-Adjectives

I've mentioned na-adjectives a few times now.

To recap, na-adjectives are adjectives that take the particle な at the end when followed by a noun. (I'll give examples later.)

Their counterpart is i-adjectives, which all end in い.

Note that distinguishing na-adjectives from nouns is very difficult. So difficult, in fact, that it's not worth our time to worry about. You'll figure out which words are nouns and which are na-adjectives through massive amounts of language exposure.

That worked for me, at least. And I'm pretty sure Japanese people are doing the same thing.

Here are some na-adjectives:

変(へん // strange; peculiar; weird
大変(たいへん // difficult; tough; serious; rough
綺麗(きれい // pretty; clean
素敵(すてき // lovely; fine; nice; wonderful
簡単(かんたん // easy; straightforward

Memorize them! Or else...

...nothing.


Kanji?!

Thanks to that list above, we know that 変 means "strange" or "weird."

大 means "big," as we have seen in the i-adjective 大きい (おおきい // big).

(big)

(strange)

大変 (たいへん // difficult; tough)

I guess big strange things are just a bit much to handle for some people. Oh, also note that the word 大変 has many uses and meanings in Japanese. For example, my dictionary says it can mean:

"serious; grave; terrible; horrible; awful; awesome; dreadful; extraordinary; uncommon; unusual; disastrous; difficult; not easy; troublesome; trying; distressing.very; most; greatly; terribly; awfully; extremely; remarkably; extraordinarily, an emergency; a serious matter [incident]; an urgent situation; a crisis."

Thanks for nothing, dictionary.

Needless to say, it's a very common word, and we should pay attention to its meaning in various phrases. The meaning we'll see in this lesson is "difficult," "tough," trying."


And now, some must-know nouns:

仕事(しごと // work; job
人(ひと // person
場所(ばしょ // place
靴(くつ // shoes
文(ぶん // sentence
文法(ぶんぽう // grammar


Sudden Tangent:

In Japanese, they have these things called sentence-ending particles.

A sentence-ending particle is a particle (usually a single hiragana character) that we use to add shades of nuance and flavor to a sentence.

Guess where we add it: To the end of the sentence!

In the early stages of Japanese, you need to know two of these: and.

よ can add emphasis, along with the nuance that you are presenting a listener with new information.

For example:

高い。
たかい。
It's expensive.
Literally: "expensive."

When we add よ, we get:

高い
たかい よ。
It's expensive. // (Just so you know,) It's expensive. // It's expensive!
Literally: "expensive + よ."

The first of these two sentences is just stating a fact: It (=Something) is expensive.

The second of these two sentences is communicating new information to a listener: (I'm assuming that you don't know this, but) It (=Something) is expensive. Or it can be an exclamation.

In contrast...

ね is a particle that seeks affirmation from a listener.

It's kind of like ending a sentence with, "huh?" or "right?" However, ね is used much more frequently than its English counterparts.

高い
たかい ね。
It's expensive. // It's expensive, huh? // It's expensive, don't you think?
Literally: "expensive + ね."

You don't need to understand the nuances of these particles 100% right now. Just keep an eye out for when they appear and ask yourself how they might be changing the (often untranslated) nuance of a phrase.


Did you already forget all of the nouns and na-adjectives I introduced earlier?

Get it together, yo!

Here are our na-adjectives again:

変(へん // strange; peculiar; weird)
大変(たいへん // difficult; tough; serious; rough
綺麗(きれい // pretty; clean
素敵(すてき // lovely; fine; nice; wonderful
簡単(かんたん // easy; straightforward

And our nouns:

仕事(しごと // work; job
人(ひと // person
場所(ばしょ // place
靴(くつ // shoes
文(ぶん // sentence
文法(ぶんぽう // grammar


So, how do we connect our na-adjectives to our nouns?

...

...

Any guesses?

...

That's right, we put な in between them! (Thus, "na-adjectives," get it?)

人(へんな ひと // a weird person
仕事(へんな しごと // a weird job
場所(へんな ばしょ // a weird place
靴(へんな くつ // weird shoes

大変仕事(たいへんな しごと // a tough job; a difficult job

綺麗人(きれいな ひと // a pretty person
綺麗場所(きれいな ばしょ // a beautiful place

素敵人(すてきな ひと // a lovely person
素敵仕事(すてきな しごと // a wonderful job
素敵場所(すてきな ばしょ // a lovely place
素敵靴(すてきな くつ // lovely shoes

簡単仕事(かんたんな しごと // an easy job
簡単文(かんたんな ぶん // an easy sentence
簡単文法(かんたんな ぶんぽう // easy grammar


Last but not least, let's look at some full sentences. Agh!

変な人ですね。
へんな ひと です ね。
He's weird, huh? // She's a weird person, isn't she?
Literally: "weird + person + です + ね."


大変な仕事ですね。
たいへんな しごと です ね。
It's a tough job. // It's a difficult job, isn't it?
Literally: "tough / difficult + job / work + + です + ね."


大変な仕事ですよ。
たいへんな しごと です よ。
It's a tough job. // It'll be a difficult job.
Literally: "tough / difficult + job / work + + です + よ."
Note: Thanks to our sentence-ending particle, よ, the nuance is that the speaker is either (A) warning the listener about a job the listener is about to do or is considering doing or (B) is boasting about how tough/difficult the speaker's own job is. Typically, all of this would be understood from context.


綺麗な場所ですね。
きれいな ばしょ です ね。
It's beautiful. // It's a beautiful place, isn't it?
Literally: "pretty + place + です + ね."
Note: Thanks to our sentence-ending particle, ね, we can infer that the speaker and listener are in a pretty/beautiful place together right now.


綺麗な場所ですよ。
きれいな ばしょ です よ。
It's a beautiful place.
Literally: "pretty + place + です + よ."
Note: Thanks to our sentence-ending particle, よ, we can infer that the speaker has been to this beautiful place before but the listener has not.


素敵な靴ですね。
すてきな くつ です ね。
I like/love your shoes. // Those are nice shoes.
Literally: "lovely + shoes + です + ね."


簡単な文です。
かんたんな ぶん です。
It's a simple/easy sentence.
Literally: "easy + sentence + です."


簡単な文法です。
かんたんな ぶんぽう です。
It's simple/easy grammar.
Literally: "easy + grammar + です."


Just as a reminder, all of the sentences above are polite, because they are using です!


As mentioned before, it's difficult to know whether a word is a na-adjective or a noun.

In fact, some words can be both. Please don't ask me for a list of these words because there are too many to count.

One more somewhat confusing thing to note is that na-adjectives are not always followed by な. Specifically...

Na-adjectives will not be followed by な when they appear directly before the copula (e.g. です and だ).

Now, I'm going to list the sentences that we saw above one more time, and I'll be adding slightly modified version of each so that the na-adjective comes directly before copula (i.e. at the end of the sentence). Notice how we no longer need な after the na-adjectives in such cases...

Note!

Some of our new sentences will be using the adjectives この、その、and あの.

These words mean "this," "that," and "that [over there]."

Getting used to こ, そ, and あ is crucial.

Adjectives:
この・その・あの
this (thing) / that (thing) / that (thing) (over there)

Nouns: これ・それ・あれ
this / that / that (over there)

Nouns:
ここ・そこ・あそこ
here / there / (over) there

Color Code:

Below you'll find na-adjectives with な and na-adjectives without な.


変な人ですね。
へんな ひと です ね。
He's weird, huh? // She's a weird person, isn't she?
Literally: "weird + person + です + ね."

だね。
へん だ ね。
That's weird. // That's weird, huh?
Literally: "weird + だ + ね."

あの人なんかだね。
あの ひと なんか へん だ ね。
That guy's kind of weird, huh?
Literally: "that + person + sort of / like + weird + だ + ね."
Note: I probably shouldn't be using a word like なんか so early in our studies, since it can be a bit difficult to use (and has various uses). Here we see it being used similarly to the word "like" in English (the one that teenagers love to use).

Note also that our sentences with だ instead of です have a slightly more casual nuance.


大変な仕事ですね。
たいへんな しごと です ね。
It's a tough job. // It's a difficult job, isn't it?
Literally: "tough / difficult + job / work + + です + ね."

大変ですね。
たいへん です ね。
It's tough. // It's tough, isn't it?
Literally: "tough / difficult + です + ね."

この仕事大変ですね。
この しごと たいへん です ね。
This is a tough job, isn't it?
Literally: "this + job / work + tough / difficult + です + ね."


大変な仕事ですよ。
たいへんな しごと です よ。
It's a tough job. // It'll be a difficult job.
Literally: "tough / difficult + job / work + + です + よ."
Note: Thanks to our sentence-ending particle, よ, the nuance is that the speaker is either (A) warning the listener about a job the listener is about to do or is considering doing or (B) is boasting about how tough/difficult the speaker's own job is. Typically, all of this would be understood from context.

その仕事は大変ですよ!
その しごと は たいへん です よ!
That's a difficult job. // (Just so you know,) That's a tough job!
Literally: "that + job + は + tough + です + よ!"


綺麗な場所ですね。
きれいな ばしょ です ね。
It's beautiful. // It's a beautiful place, isn't it?
Literally: "pretty + place + です + ね."
Note: Thanks to our sentence-ending particle, ね, we can infer that the speaker and listener are in a pretty/beautiful place together right now.

この場所綺麗ですね。
この ばしょ きれい です ね。
This place is pretty. // This place is pretty, huh?
Literally: "this + place + pretty + です + ね."

ここ綺麗ですね。
ここ きれい です ね。
It's pretty here, isn't it?
Literally: "here + pretty + です + ね."


A note about は.

Did you notice that our last two examples did not have the "topic-marking particle" は?

In a Japanese class, there's a good chance they would tell you to use that particle here:

この場所綺麗ですね。
この ばしょ は きれい です ね。
This place is pretty, isn't it?
Literally: "this + place + は + pretty + です + ね."

ここ綺麗ですね。
ここ は きれい です ね。
It's pretty here, isn't it?
Literally: "here + は + pretty + です + ね."

However, when speaking it is extremely common to drop は even in polite language, as we did when I introduced these sentences above. Understanding the changes in nuance when は is or is not included in a sentence will take a long time. So let's be patient.

And if you're confused, no need to worry about it. Just note that particles are left out of sentences frequently in Japanese.


綺麗な場所ですよ。
きれいな ばしょ です よ。
It's a beautiful place.
Literally: "pretty + place + です + よ."
Note: Thanks to our sentence-ending particle, よ, we can infer that the speaker has been to this beautiful place before but the listener has not.

そこ綺麗ですよ。
そこ きれい です よ。
It's pretty there. // That's a pretty place.
Literally: "there + pretty + です + よ."

While we're at it, also note that you can tell a person they're beautiful by saying:

綺麗
きれい。
You're beautiful. // It's beautiful.
Literally: "pretty."

...careful using that one on strangers, though.


素敵な靴ですね。
すてきな くつ です ね。
I like/love your shoes. // Those are nice shoes.
Literally: "lovely + shoes + です + ね."

その靴素敵ですね。
その くつ すてき です ね。
Those are nice shoes.
Literally: "those + shoes + lovely + です + ね."


簡単な文です。
かんたんな ぶん です。
It's a simple/easy sentence.
Literally: "easy + sentence + です."

この文は簡単です。
この ぶん は かんたん です。
This sentence is easy.
Literally: "this + sentence + は + easy + です."

簡単
かんたん!
It's so easy!
Literally: "easy!"


Are you tired yet?

Because that was a lot of sentences.

But at least we didn't look at too many new words, yeah? So maybe it wasn't so bad reading through all of that.




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