い-Adjective て Form

    • Adjective
    Using the て form of い-adjectives, you can combine words and clauses to express meanings such as "and" or "so".

    Table of Contents

    The Basics

    Also known as the conjunctive form, the て form is used to string い-adjectives—and clauses containing い-adjectives—together, in much the same way as "and" and "so" in English. The 〜く form of adjectives can also be used for this purpose, but 〜く is more formal and thus mostly used in writing. The て form, on the other hand, is much more common in speaking and informal writing.

    Forming 〜くて

    Like verbs, い-adjectives can be conjugated into the て form, which is actually much simpler to form than its verb counterpart. All you need to do is remove the 〜い ending from the い-adjective and replace it with 〜く. This allows the い-adjective to stick to another word or element, in this case, て.

     + く + て = 甘くて

    This works for all い-adjectives, without exception🎉 Bear in mind that the stem form of いい is よ, so its て form is よくて.

    Sentence Structure

    To string adjectives together using the て form, you just need to add 〜くて to the first adjective, before sticking on the second adjective. So to combine 安い (cheap) and おいしい (delicious), turn おいしい into the て form and add 安い:

    • くて美味しい
    • cheap and delicious

    It's as simple as that!

    Uses

    〜くて for "And"

    The て form is like a built-in "and" that attaches itself to the い-adjective. So if we want to say that our favorite restaurant is both cheap and delicious, one way to do this is by using 〜くて:

    • あの店は安くておいしい。
    • That restaurant is cheap and delicious.

    We can also do this with more than two adjectives. Just remember that all adjectives other than the last one will be in the て form:

    • あの店は近くてくておいしい。
    • That restaurant is close, cheap and delicious.

    い-adjectives can also be combined with な-adjectives in the same way:

    • あの店は安くておいしくて有名です。
    • That restaurant is cheap, delicious and famous.

    〜くて for "So"

    In some contexts, the connection between the first and second adjective can be more like "so" than "and". This can be understood from the context, or it may be a bit ambiguous. Take the following example:

    • このケーキは甘くておいしい.
    • This cake is sweet and delicious.
      This cake is sweet so (it's) delicious.

    While the above example can go either way, other sentences are much clearer.

    • あの店は安くておいしい。
    • That restaurant is cheap and delicious.
    • このカフェは居心地がよくて好きだ。
    • This cafe is comfortable, so I like it.

    In the first sentence, there is an "and" relationship between the two adjectives, 安い (cheap) and おいしい (delicious). The low cost of the food isn’t the reason for its tastiness, it simply is both cheap and tasty. The second sentence, on the other hand, is an example of a "so" relationship between the two adjectives, 居心地がいい (comfortable) and 好き (favored). I like the cafe because it is comfortable. In most cases, the relationship between the words will be clear from their meaning or the context in which the sentence occurs.

    〜くて for Linking Clauses

    We’ve seen how the て form can be used to link two adjectives together. Next, let’s take a look at how this structure can help us to link two sentences together. Let's combine the following sentences into one, larger compound sentence:

    • 去年はとても暖かった。
    • Last year was very warm.
    • 雨が少なかった。
    • There was little rain.

    To combine these sentences, we will follow a similar process as before. To begin, we change the い-adjective ending of the first sentence (暖かった) to its て form. Since the adjective 暖かった is in the past tense, it may be helpful to first change the adjective back to its present tense form first (暖かい). Once we have 暖かい, we can follow the two steps outlined above: replace the い with く (暖か→暖か) and then add て (暖かく). Now the sentences are ready to stick together.

    • 去年はとても暖かくて、雨が少なかった。
    • Last year was very warm, and there was little rain.

    Now that these sentences are stuck together, they are called clauses. い-adjectives in their て form can also create a "so" relationship when combining two clauses.

    • 去年は雪が少なくてスキーがあまり出来なかった。
    • There was little snow last year, so I couldn’t ski very much.

    In this example, the fact that there was little snow last year (去年は雪が少なかった) is the reason why I couldn’t ski very much (あまりスキーが出来なった).

    Let’s wrap this up with one last observation about combining clauses in Japanese and English. When two clauses are combined with an "and" or "so" in English, the past tense is expressed in both. When clauses are linked with 〜くて in Japanese, the tense is only indicated by the second clause, or in other words, at the end of the entire combined sentence. This is shown by the 〜かった ending on the い-adjective 少なかった and the verb 出来なかった in the two examples above.

    Common Mistakes

    You may have learned that "and" is expressed using the particle と in Japanese. It is - but only for nouns!

    • りんごバナナを食べました。
    • I ate an apple and a banana.

    If we want to express "and" with two い-adjectives, however, we can't generally use と.

    • ❌このりんごとバナナは甘いおいしい。
    • These apples and bananas are sweet and delicious.

    This is because in Japanese we always prefer to conjugate words if we can, rather than add new words to do the same job. Since い-adjectives can be conjugated to show the "and" relationship between them, it's ungrammatical to use と to link い-adjectives.

    So go ahead and use the て form to talk about how sweet and delicious those apples and bananas are:

    • ⭕このりんごとバナナは甘くておいしい。
    • These apples and bananas are sweet and delicious.