N5 Grammar – Polite Form of Adjectives

Welcome everyone, this is Mac with another N5 Grammar Lesson from JLPT Boot Camp. Last episode, we learned how to use adjectives to talk about things in the past casually. Today, we are going learn how to use adjectives to talk about things in the past politely. We are going to look at a few, very short exchanges. Let’s get started.

Conversation 1

Matt is talking to his Japanese co-worker.

F:りょこうは たのしかったですか。
        ryokouwa       tanoshikattadesuka.
        Was the trip fun?

M:はい、たのしかったです。
         hai, tanoshikattadesu
        Yes, (it) was fun.

Let’s break that down. First the co-worker says りょこう, trip, then は, the topic marking particle, after that たのしかった, the past tense of たのしい, fun or enjoyable, next です, the copula, and か, the question marking particle.

Matt responds with はい, yes, then たのしかった, again the past tense of たのしい, fun or enjoyable, and finishes with です, the copula.

Conversation 2

Matt’s co-worker has one more question.

F:天気は よかったですか。
     tenkiwa   yokattadesuka
     Was the weather nice?

M:いいえ、よくなかったです。
        iie,          yokunakattadesu
       No, (it) wasn’t good.

Let’s break that down. First the co-worker says 天気, weather, then は, the topic marking particle, after that よかった, the past tense of いい, good, next です, the copula and finally か, the question marking particle. Remember that the past form of いい is irregular. We have to use よい.

Matt responds with いいえ, no, then よくなかった, the negative past tense of いい, good, and finally ends with です, the copula.

Matt and his co-worker are using the polite past tense, which is commonly used in business situations as well as with people older than you or you have just met.

This is relatively easy to form. You simply need to add です to the end of the forms we learned in the last episode. Do you remember how to form the past tense of adjectives? Let’s try it with あまい, sweet. First, you cut off the い, and add かった. Then, to make it polite, we simply add です. And we are practicing the past tense, but it is the same pattern for the non-past form. Why don’t you give it a try? Let’s start with the non-past. Can you say “the train is noisy”?

Train is 電車, and it’s the topic of the sentence so we will start with:

電車は
denshawa
The train …

Then, noisy is うるさい in Japanese. And we want to use the non-past first, so we can leave it as is:

電車は うるさい
denshawa urusai
The train is noisy

And finally, add です:

電車は うるさいです。
denshawa urusaidesu
The train is noisy. (polite)

Now, change it to the past tense.

電車は うるさかったです。
denshawa urusakattadesu
The train was noisy. (polite)

Simple right? Okay, let’s take a look at the negative quickly. Last episode, we went over how to form the negative form. Let’s try it with あまい, sweet. First, you cut off the い, and add くない to make it negative. Then, change that into the past by cutting off the い and adding かった. Then, to make it polite, we simple add です. Why don’t you give it a try? Let’s start with the non-past again. Can you say “The room is not bright”?

Room is へや, and it’s the topic of the sentence so we will start with:

へやは
heyawa
The room …

Then, bright is あかるい in Japanese. And we want to use the non-past first, so we just need to use the negative form:

へやは あかるくない
heyawa akarukunai
The room isn’t bright.

And, finally, add です:

へやは あかるくないです
heyawa akarukunaidesu
The room isn’t bright. (polite)

Now, change it to the past tense:

へやは あかるくなかったです
heyawa akarukunakattadesu
The room wasn’t bright.

You got it! Excellent. Let’s continue on with the conversation then.

Conversation 3

F: ホテルは どうでしたか。
     hoteruwa     doudeshitka
     How was the hotel?

M: りっぱでした。
       rippadeshita
      (It) was splendid.

Let’s break that down. First the co-worker says ホテル, hotel, then は, the topic marking particle, after that どう, how, next でした, was, and finally か, the question marking particle. So all together, she is asking “How was the hotel?”

And Matt responds with りっぱ, splendid or elegent, and でした, was. So he is saying “(It) was splendid.”

Again, Matt and his co-worker are using the polite form, but this time with a な-adjective. For い-adjectives, you had to change to the past tense then add です., but for this you just add でした, the past tense of the Japanese copula. Let’s try it out with にぎやか. Add でした, and we can say にぎやかでした. Can you give it a try with ひま? As in “I was free.”

I is わたし in Japanese, and it’s the topic of the sentence so we will start with:

わたしは
watashiwa
I …

Then, free is ひま, and to make it past we add でした.

わたしは ひまでした。
watashiwa himadeshita
I was free.

Conversation 4

Great work! Let’s finish it off with one last exchange:

F: ひこうきは たいへんでしたか。
      hikoukiwa      taihendeshitaka
      Was the flight bad?

M: いいえ、たいへんでは ありません でした。
         iie,            taihendewa     arimasen        deshita
        No, (it) wasn’t bad.

Let’s break that down. First the co-worker says ひこうき, literally airplane, but here we can understand it as the flight, then は, the topic marking particle, after that たいへんでした, was a terrible situation, and finally か, the question marking particle.

Matt responds with いいえ, no, then たいへんでは ありません でした, the past negative form of たいへん, a terrible situation.

Matt is using the polite negative form with a な-adjective. This is also pretty simple. Simply add ではありませんでした to the end of な-adjective. This is what you will probably see used on the N5 test, but you may hear another structure used and that is ではなかったです. This is used more in spoken Japanese, but is still considered polite.

Pop Quiz!

Can you tell me the following in Japanese?

I didn’t like it.

The Japanese word for like is すき.

For “I didn’t like it”, you would say わたしは すきでは ありませんでした. We start with わたし, for I, は, the topic marking particle, and finish by taking すき and adding では ありませんでした to make it about the past and negative. Remember that we can add ではなかったです as well for spoken Japanese.

It wasn’t interesting.

The Japanese word for interesting is おもしろい.

For “It wasn’t interesting.”, you would say おもしろくなかったです. We start with おもしろい, interesting, cut off the い at the end, add くない to make it negative, cut the い off that and add かった  to make it about the past, and finally add です to make it polite.

I was busy.

The Japanese word for busy is いそがしい.

For “I was busy.”, you would say わたしは いそがしかったです. We start with わたし, for I, then は, the topic marking particle, and finish by taking いそがしい, cutting off the い, adding かった to make it about the past and adding です to make it polite.

It was convenient.

The Japanese word for convenient is べんり.

For “It was convenient.” you would say べんりでした. I saved the simplest for last. For な-adjectives, you just need to add でした and that’s it.

Review

So what was all that again? Let’s review.

For い-adjectives, you need to cut off the い, add かった, and then slap です on to the end. For the negative, it’s very similar, change the い-adjective into the negative past form and add です. With な-adjectives, simply add でした to talk about the past. For the negative, you add では ありませんでした, or you can also use では なかったです in spoken Japanese.

That’s it for this episode. For notes and more practice with the grammar point, stop by the JLPT Boot Camp courses site. There you can find quizzes, study guides for this grammar point and every grammar point covered in the videos. You can also get all of your questions answered you might have. Just leave me a comment, and I’ll get back to you.

Cover of the JLPT N5 Study GuideThe JLPT Study Guide for the N5 is now available at Amazon. Packed with exercises to help you master all the grammar points needed for the test, this is a must have study guide for anyone preparing for the N5. It also has reading and listening strategies and practice exercises so you can hone those skills before the exam. Once you’ve finished the book, there are 3 practice tests to check your level and 100s of audio flashcards you can use anywhere to review what you learned.

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