gday guys.

Im looking at the nouns used in the いadj and なadj.

I won't say this with 100% confidence - not by a long shot (n5𝘪𝘴𝘩 here).

I'm noticing the nouns in the:

*なadj are all like 'abstract nouns'. And the

*adj seem to use many nouns that are closer to 'concrete nouns'.

Even when similar words like "wide" etc

*いadj appears (to me) to refer to something more physical or a thing.

*なadj (to me) seems to more abstract.

Is there some sense to that, at least in proper grammar terms?



1 Answer 1


Yes, your observation is basically correct. Most na-adjectives are based on Sino-Japanese words (aka kango), which are words borrowed from China along with kanji, whereas most i-adjectives are etymologically truly native to Japanese (yamato-kotoba or wago). Naturally, many i-adjectives are simple and fundamental ones like 大きい ("big"), 赤い ("red"), 重い ("heavy"). On the other hand, na-adjectives tend to be difficult, abstract or technical ones, because such words were not necessary in ancient Japan :-)

Sometimes the same concept can be described using both an i-adjective and a na-adjective. For example an i-adjective 鋭い ("sharp") means roughly the same thing as a na-adjective 鋭利 ("sharp"). In such cases the na-adjective version tends to sound more technical, stiff or formal.

Similar thing can be said for suru-verbs and "normal" verbs. While normal verbs cover most of the day-to-day verb usages (e.g., 歩く "walk", 食べる "eat"), most suru-verbs are kango and can describe more advanced or abstract concepts (e.g., 運転する "drive", 保証する "warrant").

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