Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In one of the Bleach anime ending songs, "Hanabi" has the following line:

繋ぎゆく この想い 愛しき 君

"itoshiki" seems to come from "itoshii", but how does this -ki form of i-adjective work? I found a few other adjectives that have -ki forms, e.g. 幼き{おさなき}, 素晴らしき{すばらしき}, 古き{ふるき}, 良き{よき} etc but that's about it.

Is this form productive? Is it selective, i.e. only some i-adjectives can have this form? Or has it become archaic, and thus only limited to those that survived into present Japanese?

share|improve this question
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The -ki ending is the archaic rentaikee (adnominal form). It used to be standardly used in relative clauses/attributive uses of an adjective. The change from -ki to the present -i is called i-ombin. Today, this is used only when the writer wants to use the archaic form for some literary effect such as in literature, lyrics, poems, etc.

share|improve this answer
To add to sawa's answer, I don't think it's used that much in daily speech anymore, but you might hear it occasionally, maybe preserved in some dialects (@Matt might know more about that). It is productive, and gives an archaic or literary flavor, so it's more common in writing and songs:  youtube.com/watch?v=MMXHiFKccyM&feature=related – rdb Sep 13 '11 at 6:34
So the -ki form is a predecessor of the -i form? Although @rdb stated that it's productive, is it only limited to those i-adjectives that originated from -ki form but not those that took different paths (e.g. 黄色 -> 黄色い)? – Lukman Sep 13 '11 at 12:43
@Lukman It is productive. 黄色き seems to be used. – user458 Sep 13 '11 at 15:03

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.