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The Difference of Nakeyoshi and Ikeyoshi

 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
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Monox D. I-Fly
Senior Member
Indonesia
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 Message 1 of 11
20 March 2015 at 12:27am | IP Logged 
I made a Facebook status saying "Anata wa yasashii onna", then my friend who is a college student and takes Japanese literature commented that "yasashi" didn't use "na" but it became "yasashii" instead. I argued that in the forum where we first knew each other I ever encountered someone whose ID was "kirei na onna", so I thought that adjective was followed by "na", and she responded saying that the nakeyoshi ones are followed by -na suffix, and the akeyoshi ones aren't. I asked her what was the difference between them but she didn't answer. So, can anyone here tell me what's the difference?
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Lakeseayesno
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 Message 2 of 11
20 March 2015 at 1:05am | IP Logged 
Your friend is right: there are two types of adjectives in japanese, -na and -i adjectives. Their only difference is how you conjugate them. In their plain form, the only difference is "na" adjectives are followed by "na", but "i" adjectives aren't followed by anything.

For example, let's use "yasashii" ("gentle", an -i adjective) and "shinsetsu" ("kind", a -na adjective, in the same context.

1. Anata wa yasashii hito desu.
2. Anata wa shinsetsu na hito desu.

Then there's how you conjugate them to turn them into adverbs (roughtly the same as "-ly" words in English). Here, "-i" becomes "-ku" and "-na" becomes "-ni" I'll use the exact same adjectives here too:

1. Inu ni yasashiku shite kudasai. (Please treat dogs gently.)
2. Okaasan wa shinsetsu ni mondai wo kotaemashita. (Mother responded the question kindly.)
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vonPeterhof
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 Message 3 of 11
20 March 2015 at 7:00am | IP Logged 
It's not just the adverb form, the whole conjugation paradigm is different. I-adjectives are a bit like verbs in
that they have past tense, negative, conjunctive and other forms made by changing the suffixes, whereas na-
adjectives are a bit more like nouns in that they cannot be conjugated like that without the addition of forms of
the copulas ("da", "desu" and others).

Even though kirei (beautiful, a Chinese loandword) and kirai (hated, a derivative of the verb kirau - to hate)
end with -i, they are actually na-adjectives and are conjugated accordingly. The reason is that the i's at the
ends of those words aren't derived from the Middle Japanese adjective ending -ki; in "kirei" the i is part of the
root, and in "kirai" it's derived from the conjugated ending -fi. Although at least the former does occasionally
get treated as an i-adjective colloquially (kirekunai, kirekatta, etc.) this usage is highly non-standard.

Edit: BTW it's "na-keiyōshi" and "i-keiyōshi", although those are both unofficial terms.

Edited by vonPeterhof on 20 March 2015 at 7:21am

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Monox D. I-Fly
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 Message 4 of 11
20 March 2015 at 11:31am | IP Logged 
Ummm... But how to know whether I should use "na" or "-i" when I want to make a sentence using adjectives?
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Josquin
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 Message 5 of 11
20 March 2015 at 12:10pm | IP Logged 
Most adjectives with the ending -i are i-adjectives. "Kirei" and "kirai" are just some notable exceptions, which have to be memorized. Most textbooks indicate whether an adjective is of the i- or na-type.
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Monox D. I-Fly
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Indonesia
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 Message 6 of 11
20 March 2015 at 12:30pm | IP Logged 
Unfortunately, I have no book available. Thanks for the explanation, though.
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Bao
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 Message 7 of 11
20 March 2015 at 5:36pm | IP Logged 
Look up the words you are unsure about in an online dictionary, the entries have (adj-na) and (adj-i) or some similar addition to the entry. (Is even searchable using romaji.) Also, most na-adjectives are written in two kanji, while most i-adjectives are written with one kanji and hiragana. (Most, not all, and not all of the time.)
Otherwise, if you learn adjectives from context it becomes automatic really quickly. And I personally think looking up unknown words to use them in a sentence when you don't even understand the grammar covering those words ... should be an exception, rather than the norm. (If you need a free ressource for grammar, Tae Kim's guide is pretty good.)
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Lakeseayesno
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 Message 8 of 11
20 March 2015 at 7:55pm | IP Logged 
Monox D. I-Fly wrote:
Ummm... But how to know whether I should use "na" or "-i" when I want to make a sentence using adjectives?


It's not really up to you, in the sense that it's not not a choice you make. There's not one -na adjective and one -i adjective for each descriptive word. Some just happen to be -na, some happen to be -i. The trick is to learn to recognize them for their endings, which really depends on practice alone...


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