When conjugating い adjectives it is all fine and dandy, you get rid of the い and replace depending on past, present, affirmative and negative (unless present and affirmative).

*1 But then I am slightly confused with な adjectives, because it seems like to me that you don't ever see the な ending in some words when it is written in a sentence.

Is this true? If so, does that mean when conjugating な adjectives you imagine that the な is there and just replace it (which is the same as adding the past, present affirmative or negative suffix).

I hope I explained my confusion well enough. It is weird that I am asking this because I learned how to conjugate adjectives a few weeks ago but I only just had this thought now.

*1 For example I have never seen 元気な in a sentence before.

  • 2
    元気な is perfectly normal when it's modifying something. You haven't encountered that?
    – Leebo
    May 15, 2020 at 11:04
  • Just for your information, my textbook, and I think some others as well(?), call what you are calling "na adjectives" to be "na nominals" (in Japanese those are called 形容動詞). "na nominal" makes more sense to me for several reasons, but I am strongly biased of course.
    – rppkgai
    May 15, 2020 at 14:00
  • 元気な is not uncommon at all. For example, 元気な声 means "a vigorous voice" and 元気な女の子 means "a cheerful girl". There are rare irregularities (e.g., 同じ is hard to categorize), but basically all na-adjectives take な when they attributively modifiy a noun, as the name suggests.
    – naruto
    May 16, 2020 at 2:12

1 Answer 1



I think the confusion comes from the fact that both kind of words are labelled as い-adjectives and な-adjectives, creating the illusion or expectation that both types of words function grammatically in the same way, and that where you would use い for one type, you can expect to use な for the other. This expectation is not true. Let's compare both cases.


Not in some, but in all な-adjectives, you will never see the な if the word is at the end of the sentence. This is because the な is actually a particle that joins the so-called な-adjective with the noun it is modifying, but it is not a part of the な-adjective:

Modifying a noun:



Not modifying a noun:

その女の人はきれい。(there is no な)

その人は元気。(there is no な)


On the contrary, い-adjectives end with an い even when they do not modify a noun (i.e. when they are at the end of a sentence):

Modifying a noun:


Not modifying a noun:


Some textbooks present な-adjectives in their vocabulary lists with the な attached to the end, which is a practice I dislike very much because it is misleading and conveys that the whole word includes the な, even though it's not the case. I suggest you to drop the namings い-adjective and な-adjective and to start calling these types of words with the Japanese terms 形容詞{けいようし} and 形容動詞{けいようどうし}. They have different grammatical functions, and 形容動詞{けいようどうし} are actually way closer to nouns than to adjectives.

  • Where is the best place to learn about the Japanese terms?
    – batv1
    May 15, 2020 at 14:03
  • I don't know, but you won't probably find them in any textbook aimed at beginners, so I suggest you to look them up in dictionaries or in this very site. I don't remember where I learned them from, I just know that at some point I was using the words "adjective", "noun", "verb" and such grammar specific words so frequently due to my Japanese study sessions that I figured out it would totally make sense to learn how to say that kind of words in Japanese.
    – jarmanso7
    May 15, 2020 at 17:05
  • 1
    @JawGBoi if you are asking for a list of all the parts of speech in Japanese grammar, here it is: jsa.co.jp/contents/GG/group/Unk/doc/hinshi.htm
    – rppkgai
    May 15, 2020 at 18:51

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