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Adverbs in Japanese : The main character in this story

What are they?

By now, you are probably at a level where you have a good understanding of the proper Japanese structure. Knowing the basics is the first step into sounding fluent, but one of the easiest ways to sound more fluent, is to add more description to your sentences, one of which is to add adverbs into the mix. 

To give you an idea what adverbs are, they are words that modify verbs, adjectives, and even other adverbs. They are pretty much like adjectives except they don’t describe nouns! Examples can be words like “sometimes”, “always”, “slowly”, and “quickly”.

When do we use it?

Similar to how English adverbs work, Japanese adverbs are used to give a more detailed description about how actions are done, the degree of how often you do something, the degree of intensity of adjectives, and even to describe adjectives. They come with different functions and classifications which we will talk about more later in the blogs.

Where is it in a sentence?

As we mentioned a while ago, adverbs have many classifications and functions, meaning adverbs can appear almost anywhere in a Japanese sentence structure as long as it comes before the word that it is modifying. Backtracking into what we mentioned earlier, adverbs modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs; meaning adverbs would usually be found before or after these types of words.

Adverbs that modify verbs

When you eat ramen, you can eat fast, slowly, loudly, quietly and more. These types of adverbs gives more context in a sentence and are usually used to modify verbs

Adjectives that can be used as adverbs

By now, we are at a level that we know that Japanese adjectives come in two different types. We have なー形容詞 (na-keiyoushi: na adjectives) and we also have いー形容詞(i-keiyoushi: i adjectives). Much similar to how we add “ly” to adjectives in English to act as adverbs, we can also use Japanese adjectives as Japanese adverbs. English adjectives add “ly” at the end of the word to transform into an adverb (ie. pretty = “prettily”, quick = “quickly”) while, similarly enough, Japanese adjectives add “ku” or “na” at the end of it’s adjectives to transform it into an adverb. We will discuss this further below and we will give examples and conjugation rules for each type of adverb

I-adjectives (Replacing い with く)

EnglishRomajiAdjectiveEnglishRomajiAdverb
Fast/quickHayai速いQuicklyHayaku速く
StrongTsuyoi強いStronglyTsuyoku強く
CuteKawaiiかわいいCutelyKawaikuかわいく
ColdTsumetai冷たいColdlyTsumetaku冷たく
Easy/KindYasashii優しいKindlyYasashiku優しく

For Examples

彼は早く走りました。 
Kare wa hayaku hashirimashita.
He ran quickly. / He quickly ran.
彼はドアを強く開けた。
Kare wa doa wo tsuyoku aketa.
He strongly opened the door.
彼女はかわいくわらいます。
Kanojo wa kawaiku waraimasu.
She laughs cutely. / She cutely laughs.
彼女は彼を冷たく無視する。
Kanojo wa kare wo tsumetaku mushisuru.
She ignores him coldly. / She coldly ignores him.
彼は花を優しくくれました。
Kare wa hana wo yasashiku kuremashita.
He kindly gave me flowers.

TOP 15 BASIC i-adjective(KEIYOUSHI) You must know first in Japanese

Na-adjectives(Adding に instead of な)

EnglishRomajiAdjectiveEnglishRomajiAdverb
QuietShizuka naしずかなQuietlyShizuka niしずかに
BeautifulKirei naきれいなBeautifullyKirei niきれいに
EnthusiasticNesshin naねっしんなEnthusiasticallyNesshin niねっしんに
HealthyGenki na気きなLively/EnergeticallyGenki ni気きに
SeriousMajime na真面目なSeriouslyMajime ni真面目に

For Examples

私の犬は静かにベッドで寝ます。
Watashi no inu wa shizuka ni beddo de nemasu.
My dog quietly sleeps on the bed.
花がきれいに咲きます。
Hana ga kirei ni sakimasu.
The flower beautifully blooms.
私の友達は熱心に運動します。
Watashi no tomodachi wa nesshin ni undoshimasu.
My friend enthusiastically exercises.
彼女は元気に歌います。
Kanojo wa genki ni utaimasu.
She energetically sings.
私は真面目に日本語を勉強します。
Watashi wa majime ni Nihonggo wo benkyoushimasu.
I seriously study Japanese.

Recommend

Describing things in Japanese with adjectives

Adverbs that describe frequency

Typically similar to the functions of English adverbs, we use adverbs to describe the frequency or how often we do a certain action. We have the same type of adverbs in Japanese and we will be showing you just a few examples of common frequency adverbs used in Japanese sentences. There are plenty more types of adverbs out there but we will end with this for now! Please stand by for more useful adjectives that you can use to spice up your Japanese!

EnglishRomajiJapanese
Every+(morning)
(day)
(week)
(month)
Mai+ asa
nichi
shuu
tsuki
毎朝
毎日
毎週
毎月
AlwaysItsumoいつも
Usually/NormallyFutsuu
Fudan
普通(は)
普段(は)
OftenYoku
Shocchuu
Tabitabi
よく
しょっちゅう
たびたび
SometimesTokidoki時々
OccasionallyTamaniたまに
Rarely*Amariあまり
Hardly*Mettaniめったに

Side note: Words with asterisks should be used with verbs in their negative forms ONLY.

For Examples

私は毎日日本語を勉強します。
Watashi wa mainichi nihongo wo benkyoushimasu.
I study Japanese everyday.
彼女はいつもテレビを見ています。
Kanojo wa itsumo terebi wo miteimasu.
She always watches TV.
私はふつう山手線に乗ります。
Watashi wa futsuu Yamanote sen wo norimasu.
I usually ride the Yamanote Line.
私の友達はよく大阪に旅行します。
Watashi no tomodachi wa yoku Osaka ni ryokoushimasu.
My friend often travels to Osaka.
私は時々ラーメンを食べる。
Watashi wa tokidoki ramen wo taberu.
I sometimes eat ramen.
彼女はたまに自転車に乗ります。
Kanojo wa tama ni jitensha ni norimasu.
She occasionally rides her bike.
彼はあまりすしを食べません。
Kare wa amari sushi wo tabemasen.
He rarely eats sushi.
私はカナダからのおばにはめったに会いません。
Watashi wa Kanada kara no oba ni wa metta ni aimasen.
I hardly meet my Aunt from Canada.
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