I want to ask confirmation regarding Japanese colors. I understand that there are NOUN, and I-adj version of some colors. Such as 赤&赤い, 青&青い, etc.

But this part below is something I cannot confirm. Some article say that it is okay to say both "車は赤です" and "車は赤いです", but some say that you can only say "車は赤です". Which one is correct?

Also about basic colors. It seems that green (緑) and purple (紫) don't have i-adj version. But how about yellow (黄色), brown (茶色), orange (橙色) & grey (灰色)? Do they have i-adj version? I'm pretty sure I've heard 黄色い and 茶色い, but wasn't sure about 橙色い and 灰色い...

Update for specific reference I read about:
This sentence is copied from Link:

"It might be possible to use 赤いです [akai desu] in simple sentences, but I know that 赤です [aka desu] is always safe."

And this one is copied from Link:

"ボールはしろです. The ball is white. When using primary colors to modify a noun, use the i-adjective form; otherwise, use the no-adjective form."

  • Did I remove your comment by editing the answer? .. I thought comment would not be affected by an edit. Anyway, is the answer clearer now? If you still cannot see the reference, here is the link: nihongodaybyday.blogspot.jp/2008/08/the-rules-of-colors.html
    – Tommy
    Jun 21, 2016 at 7:47
  • @tommy ah, i deleted them since i have updated the questions with the specific reference, and later i can open your link so the comments was outdated and i though i better remove it :D Thanks for your answer,the fact that there are only 6 i-adjective colors really helps to clear things up.
    – Alice28
    Jun 21, 2016 at 7:58
  • Glad it was helpful!
    – Tommy
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:42
  • @chocolate There was a comment which has been deleted that mention about [Noun は Noun です] as in "車は赤です" was weird. Could you help to enlighten me about this with your point of view? thank you so much in advance :)
    – Alice28
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:53
  • 3
    I don't think 車は赤です is weird. For example, both 「僕の車は赤。/ 僕の車は赤です。」 and 「僕の車は赤です。/ 僕の車は赤だ。」 sound fine to me.
    – chocolate
    Jun 21, 2016 at 17:28

1 Answer 1


Could you be more specific about the article you talk about? In English obviously "red" could be both a noun or an adjective..wait, maybe is not so obvious.

Anyway, according to this source, there are six colors in Japanese that are い-adjectives:

「赤い」, 「青い」,「白い」,「黒い」,「黄色い」, 「茶色い」.

On the other hand, colors such as 「緑」,「金」,「ピンク」,「オレンジ」and so on, are actually names belonging to the category of so-called の-adjectives.

EDIT: a related question on の-adjectives is here.

Moreover, always according to the first source, you can actually remove the い from the former six adjectives. This would turn them into names/の-adjectives as well.

To recap, for example 赤い and 赤(の) are both adjectives, while there is no such thing as 緑+い for example.

Edit: I am not sure why in the article he says that 車は赤です is safe, as the author does not provide any specific grammatical explanation. It might be related to い-adjective + です (there is a lot on this argument at this link). I do not think it has anything to do with being or not an adjective as both 赤 and 赤い are (since a の-adjective is nothing but a name that usually in English is translated with an adjective).

  • 4
    You can add です after an adjective like 海は広いです but you can't usually add だ after i-adjective like 海は広いだ. Jun 21, 2016 at 8:03
  • Yeah sorry I actually wrote the other way around, thanks @chocolate
    – Tommy
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:06
  • 1
    I am not sure why in the article he says that 車は赤です is safe -> Maybe they meant to say that the format「Xは(color)です」(w/o 「い」) is always safe for ANY color, eg 「緑です」「オレンジです」
    – chocolate
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:20
  • 1
    Good point, it might be so in case you are not sure if the color is actually a い-adjective or not.
    – Tommy
    Jun 21, 2016 at 8:22
  • 1
    @Alice28 The usage of の in 灰色の車 and 車は灰色の are different. The former one is used as modifying 車 like grey car and the later one is used instead of のもの, it is の車 in this case. For example, 私の本は、灰色のです(My book is gray one). Jun 21, 2016 at 8:52

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