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Some adjectives are used like this:

  • [次]{つぎ}の[世界]{せかい} "tsugi no sekai" (next world)
  • [黄色]{きいろ}の[車]{くるま} "kiiro no kuruma" (yellow car)

and others are used liked this: かわいい[車]{くるま} "kawaī kuruma".

Though kiiro can also be used thus: [黄色]{きいろ}い[車]{くるま}"kiiroi kuruma".

When can I use an adjective with "no"? Is it always or only in some special cases?

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Grammatically, you can never use an adjective with の. You can only use の with nouns. You're confusion is arising because the parts of speech do not always correspond between English and Japanese: 次 is a noun, but "next" is an adjective.

Similarly, all colors in English are adjectives, but all colors in Japanese are nouns (except for six that have adjective counterparts, namely 赤い, 青い, 白い, 黒い, 黄色い, and 茶色い). You can't say 灰色い because it only exists as a noun, not an adjective (a fact you just have to memorize).

You can use nouns to modify other nouns in English, too (and probably most other languages). Health Department (or Department of Health) is an example in English: "health" is modifying "department" to describe what kind of department.

  • I guess I have to ask what's the definition of noun in japanese then? Next doesnt seem to fit any english definition of noun I know. May be we are calling "nouns" to some japanese words that arent exactly nouns? (since noun is an english word?) – Pablo Apr 9 '17 at 17:59
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    Parts of speech do not always match across languages ("like" and 好き is another example). You're right that "next" isn't a noun in English, but that doesn't mean it can't be in Japanese. I believe 次 itself refers to an actual instance of something, which "next" only describes an object. – Blavius Apr 9 '17 at 18:14
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In Japanese the specific grammatical classification of a word sometimes has more to do with how it is conjugated than with what semantic role it fulfills.

The two main types of adjectives are 形容詞 (i-adjectives) and 形容動詞 (na-adjectives). You can call both of those "adjectives" but that doesn't get you anywhere in terms of figuring out how to actually use them in a sentence, which turns out to be quite different.

Then there are no-adjectives like 黄色. I see these in Daijirin dictionary on Weblio marked as 名 ・形動, meaning "noun and/or adjective".

And there are a number of other types of adjectives as well, such as なる and たる adjectives, but those pop up pretty rarely.

So I would say the concept of "adjective" is not that useful in Japanese, because it's not specific enough and doesn't tell you how to use the word. Instead of asking "how should I use this adjective", I would suggest asking "is this an i-adjective, a na-adjective, or a no-adjective (or something else)?" and once you figure that out, you can use the relevant rules for that type of word.

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