In A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, I have (at least tried to) read the grammatical terms and list of abbreviations very carefully, but maybe something is missing. Or maybe I missed something.

At some point in the dictionary, it defines a certain usage of grammar as follows:

{Adj (na) stem / N} {∅ / だった} みたいだ

The dictionary defines the Vmas as the “ます stem” which is the “話し in 話します”, and then subsequently defines the Vstem as the “食べ in 食べる”.

Whilst there is no definition for an Adj (na) stem (or adjective stems of any kind), would I be correct to assume the word “stem” means “disregard the な suffix”?

And furthermore, if I were to find “Adj (i) stem”, it would mean to “truncate the い suffix”?

  • 1
    You are correct. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


You are correct. The "stem" of a word is the part that remains the same when you conjugate it or otherwise combine it with other words.

So for verbs, the ます-stem is what's left when you remove the ます from the ます form (which for ichidan verbs is the same as removing the る from the plain form, but that doesn't extend to godan or irregular verbs). So, for example, 食べ(ます), 行き(ます), or 会い(ます).

い-adjectives behave like verbs, in that the stem is the part without the い. So, for example, 高(い), 黒(い) or 早(い).

The "stem" of a な-adjective or noun is just the word itself, and in the case of な-adjectives this means you don't include the な - 好き, 人, きれい or 町.

  • Thank you very much! I hope that people who try to search for adjective stems in the future find your explanation here! Commented Nov 18, 2020 at 2:49

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