Let’s talk more about people. Imagine if you want to introduce someone to a friend. How would you describe them? What words would you use?
Think you are ready? Jump to the Quiz.
N5 Vocabulary used in this Lesson
ほそい – slender
せが ひくい – short
みじかいを しています – short hair
つまらない – boring
おもしろい – interesting; fun
いそがしい – busy
きれい – beautiful; clean
こわいい – pretty; cute
わかい – young
〜にすんでいます。 – lives in ~
〜ではたらいています。 – works at 〜
〜スポーツがすきです。- likes sports
Fat and Slender
N5 includes the word for slender, but how do you talk about someone who is bigger? You might be look at ふとい as a good candidate. However, ふとい is usually used to describe objects, and can mean deep, bold or thick. In order to talk about a person being fat, you’ll actually need to use a verb ふとる, and on top of that, you’ll need it to be in the ています form so you can show the state of being fat:
That person is fat.
Be careful not to get ほそい mixed up with うすい or せまい. うすい means thin or diluted. It is usually used to describe liquids or something rather thin to begin with like paper:
せまい is used to describe narrow places, or to describe a smaller place:
(my) house is small.
Tall and Short
The adjectives tall and short in Japanese are expressed as phrases. You are literally talking about how their back, せ, is tall or short:
tall (in height)
short (in height)
Long and Short Hair
Describing someone as having long or short hair has a unique structure to it as well. Literally, you saying that someone is ‘doing’ long hair or short hair:
oneesanwa nagaikamio shiteimasu.
Your older sister has long hair.
watashino hahawa mijikaikamio shiteimasu.
My mother has short hair.
N5 offers up a handful of words that you can use to describe one’s personality – つまらない, おもしろい, and いそがしい.
(My) father is boring.
わたしの 友だちは おもしろい人です。
watashino tomodachiwa omoshiroihitodesu.
My friend is a fun/interesting person.
The best translation for おもしろい is interesting, but ‘interesting’ has a pretty wide meaning in English. The Japanese word おもしろい tends to lean toward ‘fun’ as someone that does interesting things.
きれい vs. こわいい
きれい is generally used to describe something or someone that is beautiful. You can also use it to mean that you cleaned a place up. For example, you can say the following:
だいどころを きれいに しました。
daidokoroo kireini shimashita.
I cleaned the kitchen.
こわいい on the other hand is focused more on being cute. Your little niece is こわいい or a puppy is こわいい, but not a grown woman.
Other Useful Vocabulary
わかい – young
げんき is a word that can be difficult to translate at times. It can mean healthy or vigorous, or full of energy. If you want to ask someone how they are doing you can ask:
Are (you) full of energy?
Talking about where they live and work
To talk about where a person lives and works you can use the verbs すむ and はたらく respectively:
aniwa kyoutoni sundeimasu.
My older brother lives in Osaka.
otoutowa ABCkaishade hataraiteimasu.
My younger brother works at ABC Company.
You can also mention what they like:
My uncle likes sports.
Ready? Take the Quiz
JLPT N5 Resources
JEES has made the official JLPT N5 Workbook available for download free. The N5 workbook is pretty close to the same size as the real test and the questions are made up of questions from previous exams. Also it is free, so if you have the time, be sure to download it and give it a try.
A subscription to the JLPT Boot Camp Courses site includes a complete guide to studying and preparing for the JLPT as well as a complete grammar guide for N5. The grammar guide includes tips and common mistakes to look out for when taking the test. Each chapter includes a video explanation, clear grammar explanations, several example sentences, and JLPT-style questions. Sign up today and get started on the right path.
Ask Publishing is well-known for their books on the N5. This is a pretty straightforward vocabulary study book that covers all the essential vocabulary that you’ll need to learn in order to pass the test. I like how this book offers check boxes to help you chart your progress as well as clear sentences to help you understand every word.
Japanese Pod 101 has a 6 lesson last minute prep course for the test as well as additional practice tests. Also, their lessons are sorted by grammar points, so if you are having problems with a particular point, it is a great place to focus in on the one point that is giving you some trouble.