Look at the following words:

意 Idea
圧 Pressure
おとこ Man
女性 Woman
子 Child
ヘア Hair
想い Thought

Some of the above words are single kanjis, some kana, and some combination of kanji-kana.
Is there a standard way to make this words adjective i.e. ideal, high-pressure, manly, womanly, childish, hairy, thoughtful, etc? Can this be done by adding a prefix or suffix kana, similar to what we do in English by adding "ly", "ish", and "ful" to nouns?

Or does Japanese use independent words for adjectives that do not have much common with their related noun?


1 Answer 1


Just as you have used various English suffixes to turn nouns into adjectives ("-ly", "-ish", "-ful", ...), there are a number of ways to do this in Japanese, too. Most important ones are:

  • -な:
    • 損 (disadvantage) / 損な (disadvantageous)
    • 不思議 (mystery, wonder) / 不思議な (mysterious)
  • -の
    • 真 (truth) / 真の (true)
    • 永遠 (eternity) / 永遠の (eternal)
  • -っぽい
    • 子供 (child) / 子供っぽい (childish)
    • 熱 (fever) / 熱っぽい (feverish)
  • -的(な):
    • 男性 (male gender) / 男性的(な) (manly, masculine)
    • 理論 (logic) / 理論的(な) (logical)

The first two bullets are also simply known as "na-adjectives" and "no-adjectives", respectively. Of course you cannot combine nouns and these suffixes arbitrarily, so basically you have to remember nouns and their adjective versions one by one.

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