Using い-Adjective Present Form

    • Adjective
    When い-adjectives end in the hiragana character い, it shows that they are positive and in the present tense. Just like other adjectives, い-adjectives modify nouns.

    Table of Contents

    い for Present Tense

    When an い-adjective ends with 〜い, it is in the present tense. If you want to know about い-adjectives in general, check out the page on their present tense form. Read on to learn more about putting present, positive い-adjectives to use in sentences.

    Present Tense い-Adjectives in Sentences

    Adjectives are awesome. They allow us to make language more interesting and vibrant. Just like these English adjectives, い-adjectives have a similar function in Japanese. They are noun modifiers, or in other words, they allow us to describe nouns.

    い-adjectives can come right before a noun:

    • 怖いおじさん
    • is-scary old man
    • みにくいアヒルの子
    • is-ugly duckling

    In these cases, the い-adjective and noun form a short phrase that can be used wherever nouns are usually used, such as the subject or object of a sentence. Let's plug these into sentences to see how this works:

    • 怖いおじさんがその家に住んでいる。
    • A scary old man lives in that house.

    In this sentence, 怖いおじさん is the subject of the sentence. We know this because it is followed by the particle が.

    • うちはみにくいアヒルの子を育てています。
    • We are raising an ugly duckling.

    In this sentence, みにくいアヒルの子 is the object of the sentence, and is followed by the particle を. We can find nouns in plenty of other grammatical positions too, and wherever there's a noun, an adjective can come along for the ride.

    い-adjectives can also occur at the end of a sentence, modifying the subject noun:

    • 富士山は高い
    • Mt. Fuji is tall.
    • その猫はかわいい
    • That cat is cute.

    In these sentences, the adjective appears at the end of the sentence, and describes the noun in the subject position. This is very similar to English, so it probably won't be a big surprise.

    Notice that we've included "is" in our translations of these い-adjectives. This is because い-adjectives have the super special quality of showing tense. In this case, we are using the present tense form ending 〜い, so "is" makes sense here. The present tense 〜い ending can be replaced with 〜かった to create the past tense form, in which case the verb would shift to "was." In English, only verbs can tell us the tense, which is why our English translations have to include a verb and an adjective to be more accurate. So in a way, い-adjectives are super-adjectives since they have this verb-like ability!

    い-Adjectives and Politeness

    Another piece of the grammar puzzle in Japanese is level of politeness. Let's take a look at how い-adjectives combine with another element, です, to indicate politeness.

    Imagine that you work as a waiter, and the head chef has called you into the kitchen to try a new recipe. You try it, and it's absolutely delicious. You want to give your impression, but you decide to do so in a socially-aware and polite manner. To accomplish this, you can add です to your sentence:

    • おいしいです。
    • (It) is delicious.

    Now let's say you're in a similar situation, except this time you're at home with your mom. She's baked some cookies, which are delicious as always. You want to tell her how much you like them, but since she's your mother, you don't feel the need to be so polite. In this case, just remove です and say:

    • おいしい!
    • (It) is delicious!

    If you've been taught that だ is the casual form of です, you might be wondering why we didn't use だ in the previous example. Because い-adjectives can mark tense on their own, they don't need help from だ.

    Remember the い-adjective tense-marking super power? だ is used with other word types like nouns and な-adjectives to show the present tense (and だった is used to show past tense). This is because, unlike い-adjectives, nouns and な-adjectives cannot conjugate to show tense themselves. Because the 〜い ending of い-adjectives already shows present tense (and the 〜かった ending shows past tense), adding だ marks the same tense information twice. It would be like adding the past tense ending of English verbs (-ed) to a verb with an irregular past tense form, such as "thought." We wouldn't form the word "thoughted," because it's redundant, right? Same thing with い-adjectives and だ.

    As a side note, it's also worth pointing out that だ is not actually even a marker of "casual-ness," but rather of "emphasis." This isn't the topic of this page but if you'd like to learn more about だ and です, read more about them in this article.

    So anyway, the most important thing to remember for now is that we don't use だ with an い-adjective!

    an image that shows an incorrect sentence おいしいだ

    Other forms of い-Adjectives

    The 〜い ending on い-adjectives is just one possible ending! To conjugate an い-adjective to a different form, start from the stem form. From there you can change and combine endings to express a range of forms, like past tense and more. 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