I have been constantly told that だ can not be placed after an I-adjective. Why is that?


2 Answers 2


だ is the plain-form copula (the "is; to be" word). In the plain form, い adjectives already form a complete predicate (the piece of a sentence or clause that can complete that sentence or clause). In translation, it's like the い adjective already includes the "is" meaning -- so 速い would be "[it] is fast", not just "fast".

Since だ is only used to provide a way of finalizing plain-form clauses, it's redundant in cases where the plain-form clause is already a complete predicate -- such as when it ends in an い adjective. Saying 速いだ might be like saying "[it] is is fast" in English -- the meaning is clear, but it's grammatically wrong and it sounds wrong.

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    @CraigHicks, です is a different case -- see the link posted above by naruto, japanese.stackexchange.com/a/35951/5010. In summary, plain form だ only provides closure of a predicate, while polite form です also provides social register information (in this case, politeness) -- so い adjective + です is correct, and is in fact the required form for polite-register い adjectives. Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 19:42

Grammatically speaking, there really are no adjectives in Japanese. i-adjectives are just special verbs. i-adjectives have many of the same inflections as do verbs, and they fulfill a grammatical role essentially equivalent to that of verbs. Therefore, 電車は速い is a complete sentence meaning "the train is fast", where 速い is the predicate.

i-adjective + です could be considered a special construction for the sake of politeness, similar to verb + ます. However, attaching an adjective to だ or でした, etc., would be ungrammatical or at least unidiomatic (because you would have two predicates). If you need the polite form of the past tense, instead of 早いでした, you would say 早かったです.

I know this is really confusing for many people. I used to be confused about the same question as well, but when I realized that i-adjectives are really a special category of verbs, it is easy to understand what is going on.

  • Wow! I have never consider i-adjective as a kind of verb before. Thanks
    – Anh Tuan
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 3:27
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    @AnhTuan, many of the conjugated forms of い adjectives are contractions with ある, where the contraction has so normalized that folks have forgotten about it. Examples: 長かった = 長く + あった, 長かれ = 長く + あれ, etc. Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 17:23
  • This explanation is an excellently out of the box way of thinking about i adjectives. Thank you!
    – user13743
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 0:35

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