I was reading Adjective-Noun vs Noun-が-Adjective and it I didn't really understand it, so I was wondering if someone could give a more clear explanation? For example, the difference between 遅い散歩 and 散歩が遅い. Also to add on, what would 歩くのが遅い mean. What would be the differences? thank you. I may just be totally wrong, but it would be niced to have it cleared up.

  • 1
    I’m not sure you chose the right pair of examples. In that pair, the adjective 遅い may be understood differently. So it potentially has one more difference than the one you are asking about. The difference you are asking about seems to be pretty clearly answered in the linked question. One is a noun phrase and the other is a sentence. It’s a structural difference before anything else.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 4:48

1 Answer 1


Word order changes the nuance, much as it does in English.

  • 遅【おそ】い散歩【さんぽ】
    • "a slow walk"
  • 散歩【さんぽ】が遅【おそ】い
    • "the walk is slow"

(Noting here that 散歩【さんぽ】 means "a walk, a stroll".)

Also to add on, what would 歩くのが遅い mean

歩【ある】く is the basic verb meaning "to walk".

Adding the の on the end nominalizes this -- it turns this into a special kind of noun.

The が after that marks this noun as the subject.

  • 歩【ある】くのが遅【おそ】い
    • "the walking is slow"
      Specifically as in "the act of walking", distinct and separate from the "stroll" sense expressed by the word 散歩【さんぽ】.
  • I think most Japanese would understand 遅い散歩 with no context as "a late walk", though "a slow walk" is not impossible.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 5:04
  • @aguijonazo: In written form, wouldn't 晩い be the preferred spelling for the "late" sense? Or is this a term where the spelling, while formerly relevant to meaning, has become standardized on 遅い regardless of sense? Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 16:49
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    This is the first time I've seen 晩い though it's not too hard to guess what it means and therefore how it's supposed to be read (possibly because of my knowledge in Chinese). スーパー大辞林 on my phone lists only 遅 and 鈍 in the main entry for おそい. It only has a footnote that says 時刻・時期の場合は「晩い」とも書く under one of the definitions. For me it's 遅い in either sense. I'm sure I'm among the majority here. I would read 鈍い as either にぶい or のろい and use either one of them (if not more colloquial とろい) for what it means, not おそい.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 23:44
  • @aguijonazo, interesting -- I'd been taught the 晩い spelling years and years ago, never thought to question usage frequency. Good to have a sanity check on that. :) In your experience, do you see a similar lack of particular usage preference for 早い or 速い? I mean, is one the "almost always used" spelling, regardless of "early" or "fast" senses, and the other is an oddity? Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 7:07
  • 1
    No, 早い and 速い are distinguished rather strictly. Some might still use 早 for "fast" but many would consider it not quite correct.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 7:53

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