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I came across the word 直接的 in my textbook and became surprised because my understanding up to date is that 直接 could also be used as a 形容動詞, at least according to jisho.org and 大辞泉.

If that's the case, what is the difference in nuance between 直接 and 直接的? Can you provide examples of other 形容動詞 that have both versions, with and without 的?

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  • This 的 is such a convenient suffix that it is often abused. For example, some people say 有効的 when 有効 or 効果的 is just fine. 直接的 seems less bad to me for some reason I can't explain.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 20 at 23:08
  • Maybe it's simply because 直接 is more an adverb than an adjective and we need a clearer adjective form.
    – aguijonazo
    Apr 20 at 23:14

1 Answer 1

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Regarding 直接, the only thing I can think of in ordinary usage is:

  1. 直接的な話し方 (not 直接な話し方 nor 直接の話し方)
  2. 直接話す

1 means the way of talking directly/straightforwardly, i.e., without euphemism nor ambiguity. 2 means talking in person (without middleman, usually not by email or phone). Note this 直接 is more like a noun used adverbially rather than 形容動詞. 直接的に話す again is straightforward talking.

Sometimes both can be used. E.g., 直接攻撃/直接的な攻撃 mean direct attack (as opposed to pressuring, for example). As commented, 直接 is unnecessary here and may be called an abuse.


In general, it looks mostly word-by-word matter. For example, consider 定期/定期的 = period/periodic and 精神/精神的 = mind/psychological(mental). For me, 定期連絡 (periodical reporting) is more natural than 定期的連絡 (定期的な連絡 is fine, but may be redundant like 直接的); 精神的負担 (psychological burden) is more natural than 精神負担.

Dictionary-wise, this applies, but when to use 的 may be tricky in practice.

② 漢語について、直接、または「な」をともなって連体修飾語として用いられるほか、形容動詞語幹として使われる。
(イ) そのような性質を有する、それらしい、の意を表わす。「貴族的」「悲劇的」「病的」「合法的」「平和的」など。
(ロ) それに関する、それについての、その方面にかかわる、などの意を表わす。「美的」「私的」「科学的」「政治的」「現実的」など。

Apparently it is a topic in Japanese linguistics (or teaching), you can find research articles on the web (like this or this).

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  • In any case, I take it that the dichotomy is between 直接 as an adverb and 直接的, whereas 直接[な] would be out of the picture?
    – jarmanso7
    Apr 21 at 14:15
  • @jarmanso7 Probably you shouldn't take parts of speech as something so clear-cut. Use of 直接 that can be construed as 形容動詞 may happen. E.g., Answering how did you contact him, 直接だよ meaning in person can be used and this is 形容動詞. So the dichotomy is rather between the word 直接 and the word 直接的.
    – sundowner
    Apr 21 at 22:53
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    Not sure if you know, but there's a school of grammatical theory that claims there's no 形容動詞. I guess 直接 is on the end closer to a noun within the spectrum between 名詞 and 形容動詞. The following is kinda relevant 丸腰を見る and no-adjectives
    – sundowner
    Apr 21 at 22:55
  • Thanks for your insight. In reality, rather than being inflexible about words categorizations, what I am trying to understand here is how the word is actually used, that's why in my comment, while I was tempted to ask "would 直接 as a 形容動詞 be out of the picture?" I opted for "would 直接[な] be out of the picture?" because I am less concerned with the grammar categorization/labels than with the usage. I just want to learn the right way to say things. If 直接だよ makes 直接 somewhat a 形容動詞, despite 直接[な] not being really used, so be it.
    – jarmanso7
    Apr 22 at 7:55

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