N5 Grammar – Japanese adverbs, linking adjectives, and talking about ‘one of a group’

Welcome everyone, this is Mac with another N5 Grammar Lesson from JLPT Boot Camp. Last episode, we learned about how to talk and ask about locations and directions. Today, we are going learn a few more uses for adjectives. We are going to look at a few, very short exchanges. Let’s give it a try.

Conversation 1 (0:22)

Yu is late meeting Matt to go shopping. They are friends so they will be speaking casually.

Yu:   ごめん、おそく なった。
           Gomen, osoku natta.
           Sorry, I’m, late.

Matt: だいじょうぶ。
             (It’s) okay.

Breaking that down, Yu says ごめん, a casual way to say sorry, おそく, the adverb form of おそい, late, なった, past casual from of なる, to become. All together, she literally says “sorry, (I) became late”, but of course a more natural translation would be “sorry, I’m late”.

Matt responds with だいじょうぶ, okay. Matt is pretty easy going.

Now, Yu was using the adverb form of an adjective. Adverbs can be used to describe verbs. Making this form is easy, for い-adjectives, just cut off the final い and add く. For な-adjectives, we just add the に particle. Let’s give it a quick try. Can you say “I run fast”? “To run” in Japanese is はしる. And fast is はやい.

わたしは はやく はしります。
Watashiwa hayaku hashirimasu.
I run fast.

Exactly! はやい is an い-adjective, so we need to cut off the final い and add く to make the adverb here.

Let’s try another one. Can you say “I speak Japanese skillfully”? The word for skilled in Japanese is 上手じょうず.

わたしは 日本語にほんごを 上手じょうずに はなします。
Watashiwa nihongowo jyouzuni hanashimasu.
I speak Japanese skillfully.

Exactly! 上手 is a な-adjective so we need to add に to make it an adverb.

Conversation 2 (2:38)

Let’s go back to Matt and Yu at the store. And again, they are speaking casually.

Matt:   ピンクで あかるいシャツが すき。
               Pinkude akaruishatsuga suki.
              (I) like the pink bright shirt.

Yu:       ああ、わたしは すきじゃない。
               Aa, watashiwa sukijanai.
              Ah, I don’t like (it).

Breaking that down, Yu says ピンク, pink, で, a particle used to link adjectives, あかるい, bright, シャツ, shirt, が, the subject marking particle, and finally すき, liked. All together, she says “(I) like the pink and bright shirt”.

Matt responds with ああ, a word used for hesitation, わたし, I, は, the topic marking particle, and finally すきじゃない, not liked. All together, he is saying “Uhh, I don’t like (it)”.

Yu was using the で particle to link two adjectives together. The adjective ピンク is a な-adjective, so she used で. But for い-adjectives, you cut off the い and add くて. This form is also sometimes called the て-form of an adjective. You can’t throw together any old two adjectives together though. You can’t have a negative adjective with a positive one for example. The two adjectives need to have the same connotation or feeling. For more details be sure to check the PDF on this point.

Let’s give it a try, shall we? Can you say ‘this place is big and expensive’? Now, in Japanese, people often refer to a place they live or an apartment as a room – へや, so let’s use that for this sentence.

このへやは おおきくて たかいです。
Konoheyawa ookikute takaidesu.
Konoheyawa ookikute takaidesu.

Exactly! このへやは, this room, 大きくて, big, 高い, expensive, and finally です, the copula.

Let’s try another one. Can you say “a pretty and interesting person”. Interesting is おもしろい in Japanese.

きれいで おもしろいひとです。
Kireide  omoshiroihitodesu.
A pretty and interesting person.

Exactly! きれい, pretty, is な-adjective, so we add で to it so that we can link it to おもしろい.

Conversation 3 (5:12)

Let’s go back to Matt and Yu who are about to finish up their shopping. Again, this is casual.

Matt:   わたしは あおいのが すき。
                        Watashiwa aoinoga suki.
                       I like the blue one.

Clerk:           それは よくないよ。
                         Sorewa yokunaiyo.
                        That isn’t good.

Breaking that down, Matt says わたし, I, は, the topic marking particle, あおいの, blue one, が, the subject marking particle, and finally すき, liked. All together, he is saying “I like the blue one”.

Yu responds with それ, that, は, the topic marking particle, よくない, not good, and finally よ, a particle used for emphasis.

Matt is using the の particle with an adjective to talk about the blue one. You can use this to refer to a specific kind of item out of a group of items, similar to using the pronoun ‘one’ in English. In the previous conversation, Matt and Yu had been talking about shirts, so we can assume that Matt is talking about the blue shirt. You can form this by simply putting the の particle after an い-adjective or [slower] なの after a な-adjective.

Let’s give it a try one time. Can you say “the small one”? Remember that ‘the’ is often translated as その in Japanese.

The small one.

Right! Can you say “the small one is pretty, isn’t it?”, casually? And to form a tag question like ‘isn’t it?’ we need to add the ね particle to the end of the sentence.

そのちいさいのは きれいだね。
Sonochiisainowa kireidane.
The small one is pretty.

Right! Going over that quickly, その, that or the, 小さいの, small one, きれい, pretty, だ, the copula, and finally ね, that sentence ending particle that is used to ask for a confirmation of your opinion, much like a tag question in English.

Let’s try it with a な-adjective. Can you say “the pretty one”?

The pretty one.

Right! Let’s make it a little longer. Remember that with な-adjectives, we need to add なの. Can you say “the pretty one is expensive”, politely?

そのきれいなのは たかいです。
Sonokireinanowa takaidesu.
The pretty one is expensive.

Let’s go over that sentence quickly. その, that or the, きれいなの, pretty one, は, the topic marking particle, 高い, tall or expensive, and finally です, the copula.

You ready for a pop quiz? I’ll give you the English, can you translate it into Japanese?

Pop Quiz (8:33)

Can you tell me the following in Japanese?

I speak Japanese skillfully.

A quick hint, another word for skillful is うまい in Japanese.


日本語にほんごを うまく はなします。
Nihongowo umaku hanashimasu.

For “(I) speak Japanese skillfully”, we can say “日本語を うまく 話します”. Let’s go over that quickly, 日本語, Japanese, を, the object marking particle, うまく, the adverb form of うまい, skillful, and finally 話します, the polite non-past form of 話す, to speak.

That car is new and expensive.


そのくるまは あたらしくて たかいです。
Sonokurumawa atarashikute takaidesu.

“That can is new and expensive”, is “その車は 新しく 高いです” in Japanese. Let’s go over that quickly, その, that, 車, car, は, the topic marking particle, 新しく, te-form of 新しい, new, 高い, expensive, and finally です, the copula.

The big one is pretty.


そのおおきいのは きれいです。
Sonoookiinowa kireidesu.

“The pretty one is big” in Japanese would be “その大きいのは きれいです。”. Let’s go over that quickly, その, that, 大きいの, big one, は, the topic marking particle, きれい, pretty, and finally です, the copula.


Today, we went over some more uses of adjectives. You can use them as adverbs that modify verbs by cutting off the final い of い-adjectives and adding く or by adding に to な-adjectives.

You can also link adjectives together by cutting off the last い of い-adjectives and adding くて, or by adding で to な-adjectives. Remember that the two adjectives have to have a similar connotation or feeling in order to work together though.

Finally, we can use の after い-adjectives or なの after な-adjectives to talk about a particular one of a group. For example, if we want to say the following:

わたしは あおいのが すきです。
Watashiwa aoinoga sukidesu.
The pretty one is expensive.

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.

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