I just started learning Japanese for a few months, and I saw a sentence recently:


I feel strange that the sentence uses 多く instead of 多い. 多く is an adverb, 多い is an adjective. The word before 多く is アジア人, which is a noun, shouldn't I use the adjective 多い to modify the noun? What's the underlying rule here?


1 Answer 1


Let's look at your sample sentence.


You have two independent clauses here. To join independent clauses in a sentence, you need to use a conjunction. Japanese verbs and adjectives have a special conjugation form sometimes called the "conjunctive", also known more informally in English as the "-te form".

If we were to use the -te form in your sample sentence, we would have:


But we don't have that.

This is because it is also possible to use the so-called "adverbial form" or "infinitive form" or (for verbs) the "-masu stem form", without the -te suffix, as a conjunction.

If we were to use this shorter form to conjoin the two clauses in your sample sentence, we would have:


In your question, you ask more specifically, "why can't we use 多い【おおい】 here?" This is because you cannot use the regular form of an adjective (or verb) to conjoin clauses. If we just said:


... it wouldn't be grammatical.

It's a bit like why you have to use "and" in English in sentences like "There are a lot of Asians among exchange students, and other ethnicities comprise only 30% of the total." In Japanese, instead of a separate conjunction word like "and", we conjugate the verb or adjective that finalizes the first clause into the adverbial / infinitive (or, in Japanese, the 連用形【れんようけい】), or into the -te form.

  • 2
    In English, we can say "There being a lot of Asians among exchange students, other ethnicities comprise only 30% of the total". I mention this because it's much more closely analogous to what the Japanese example does, grammatically speaking. But in English, this a) is considered very stilted, and b) frames the second clause as dependent on the first (which makes a sort of mathematical sense in this example, but is really not what the speaker likely intended). Commented Mar 8 at 6:26
  • @KarlKnechtel, good counter-example, thank you for the input. Agreed that it changes the logical flow of ideas. Commented Mar 8 at 20:17

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