Conjugating い-Adjective Present Form

    • Adjective
    • Conjugation Form
    い-adjectives are one of three types of adjectives in Japanese that can be used to describe a noun. い-adjectives are special in that they can be conjugated to show tense (present or past) and truth value (positive or negative), just like verbs.

    What Are い-Adjectives?

    There are three kinds of Japanese adjectives: な-adjectives, の-adjectives, and the focus of this page, い-adjectives. Just like English adjectives, い-adjectives modify nouns. In other words, they describe a noun by giving us more information about it. Without adjectives, I couldn’t tell you how cute my dog is or how fun learning Japanese is. They’re pretty important, don’t you think?

    To understand why い-adjectives are named as such, just take a look at a few of them and the reason should be pretty clear:

    japanese i-adjectives

    Whether you can read these words or not, notice that the last character in each word is the same: the hiragana character い. This character is pronounced like "ee" as in "eel."

    The Present Tense Ending 〜い

    When an い-adjective ends in 〜い, this means that it is present tense. Let’s take a closer look:

    • 美し
    • is-beautiful

    美しい is an い-adjective that means "beautiful." In the translation above, we included the verb "is" to show that it is in the present tense. When い-adjectives are in the past tense form, the 〜い ending is replaced with the past tense suffix 〜かった.

    The negative suffix 〜ない is used to make many different types of words negative in Japanese, including い-adjectives, verbs, and nouns. No matter what type of word it is paired with, though, 〜ない itself acts like an い-adjective when it is conjugated for tense. The 〜い on its end is the same as the 〜い on the end of a typical adjective like 美しい, and so it conjugates in exactly the same way.

    Other Forms of い-Adjectives

    The 〜い ending on い-adjectives is just one possible ending! Explore the chart below to learn more about different い-adjective forms and conjugations.

    Form 日本語 English
    Stem Form
    く Form strongly
    て Form くて strong, (and)
    Present Tense Form is-strong
    Past Tense Form かった was-strong
    Negative Form くない is-not-strong
    Past Negative Form くなかった was-not-strong
    Conditional Form ければ if strong...
    Measurable Noun Form strength
    Subjective Noun Form strong point