The Adjective Connection | 形容詞の基本| Basics of Japanese Adjectives| | Listing Adjectives | 形容詞の「テ形」 (Adjectives Te-Form)| Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Japanese Language Learning Essentials

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皆様みんなさま、こんにちにゃあぁ!Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online. You come across a fork in the road with many paths, and only one of them leads where you’d like them to go. You phone your guide and ask which path you should continue on, and they ask you which path you’re currently on. You reply: 「長い道です」, it’s the long road. But, obviously, this doesn’t give much of a description. The world isn’t always such a simple place for single adjectives. Sure, you could continue with several sentences of single adjectives, but that wouldn’t be as natural, and wouldn’t be as useful. Just as you find yourself unable to elaborate, you’re joined by your helpful guides to Japanese language and culture! Kiki and Koko! (That’s us~) We’re here to assist you with this new and useful skill, which is listing multiple adjectives. The world can be described in so many words, and after this lesson, you’ll have the tools you need to actually use them!

So, again, usually, when you’re describing anything, just one adjective isn’t going to provide a full description. We figured it would be best to introduce this concept as soon as possible because as soon as someone wants to use a single adjective to describe something, one may start to immediately want to string on more adjectives. And, we commend that! It’s great to want to create more interesting sentences early on.

And though, in some languages, adding more than one adjective can be as easy as jamming two pieces of bread together, Japanese language needs something a bit more to keep them sticking together. Just as we introduced the types of adjectives and their modifiers, connecting them will take a bit of Marmite to get the bread pieces that are the adjectives to sandwich together properly; or cheese; or jelly; or in North America, maybe peanut butter and jelly. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the varieties of sustenance we’ll need for this journey.

But, before you hop into our vehicle for a hopefully relaxing and informative tour of the area, you’ll need to make sure you take with you some important supplies and familiarise yourself with their usage. Of course, you’ll need to take a look at our previous jaunts down the basics of the forest of 形容詞, keiyoushi, showing you how they function and how to categorise them in order to properly use them, then

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Without some of the groundwork we provided in previous lessons, it may be a bit difficult to follow along. And, if you’re an absolute beginner, this is still a step up that is usually introduced a little later depending on the teacher, but honestly, this concept is so fundamental that we had to include it early on. We try to teach based on laying down each piece of the path and branching off of the concepts that make the most logical sense to follow, which will still assist you with other early concepts to which you will be able to relate this. But, before learning about these adjectives, you’ll want to take a look at some of the previous essentials. For articles that haven’t been categorised into the main essentials page, you can look through the tagged area for the category as a whole found here: Japanese Language Learning Essentials. Now, you’ll also want to be sure to form a proper relationship with your other important supplies です、は、がand as well as any of the other previous particles. The point of this is also to get you mentally prepared for how all of this works. You want to start any language with a clean slate. Sometimes, it’s helpful to connect it to concepts from your own language, but many times, with languages that may have similarities, these similarities only hinder the differences and may cause your mind to want to gravitate towards those similarities and overgeneralise. It’s just the way human brains can work sometimes, and we want to make sure you have  the best chance at not only understanding the material, but really being able to wield it properly, approaching it all in an organised yet natural way. Immersion doesn’t work for everyone, but what we essentially do is create some parameters so that you’re not simply learning to swim by being thrown into the ocean, fighting waves with no way to know what to focus on or what to do. So, let’s quickly stockpile your Japanese Language Survival Kit, or make sure that your supplies are still there and that you still know how to use them, and we’ll be right here for you when you return.

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Welcome back! Or, if you were confident you had your supplies, then hello, again. But, even if you’re sure you have your supplies, it doesn’t hurt to check~!

So, this is hopefully going to be a format that will be helpful to you once more, as the previous two main categories are again differentiated, which means you treat them differently. When you connect adjectives, you’ll need to replace the modifier with the connective ending in order to fasten it to the next adjective and ultimately the noun or part of the sentence that you’re describing. Just as you converted the ending modifier for the negative form, you’ll need to change the ending modifier with what is known as テ形, tekei, or te-form. These are handled differently based on which form you’re using, but there are only two ways, luckily.

Now, when you hear テ形, tekei, or te-form, this will not be the only instance it is used. In fact, this is the much smaller and objectively simpler type of te-form. We’re easing you into the concept as when it comes to verbs, it will be a bit of a hike through a dense brush. But, until then, let’s just celebrate the milestones as they come!


I-Adjectives’ Te-Form | イ形容詞のて形

Thinking back to the negative form, you should be at least a little familiar with the concept of converting the modifier, い, i, to く, ku. Now, as long as you think of it that way, it makes it easier to conceptualise te-form as all you have to do is add て, te. 

可愛→可愛→ 可愛く+て→可愛くて


kawaii→ kawaiku →kawaiku + te →kawakute

But, perhaps this concept is a bit easier to some to think of it as adding くて, kute, after taking away the い, i, modifier. Honestly, they both give you the same result, so simply visualise it whichever way makes it simpler to you.



kawaii→ kawai →kawai +kute →kawaikute

Either way, as you can see, you end up with the same result. The former definitely will assist you in future conjugation, but perhaps, for some it’s simpler to just think of the ending as a whole without the extra steps in between. And, that’s definitely useful in its own right, whatever helps you learn~! Now, of course, it’s important to actually see these listed adjectives in action. We’re going to list three so that you can get an idea of how this works.

難しくて 長くて 面白い レッスンです。

むずかしくて ながくて おもしろい れっすんです。

muzukashikute nagakute omoshiroi ressun desu.

(It’s a) difficult, long, (and) interesting lesson.

Interestingly enough, this also covers listing negative forms, as they are also technically i-adjectives. And, it’s equally useful to be able to list what something isn’t. Let’s say you’re looking to purchase something and you’re looking to cull the given options.

くなくて  薄汚くなくて 遅くない 車が 欲しいです。

ふるくなくて うすぎたくなくて おそくない くるまが ほしいです。

furukunakute usugitakunakute osokunai kuruma ga hoshii desu.

(I) want a car that’s not old, (not) dingy, and (not) slow.

So, that’s something that may be a tongue twister for beginners. That’s why we’ve been sure to emphasise the nature of い, i, becoming く, ku, because as you can see, the conjugation will begin to build upon each other in certain cases, and if you don’t have a good grasp of these, it may become a bit overwhelming. But, no worries! We’ll be here for you every step of the way.

Just one last thing we want to mention about the translation of this, as well. So, when you’re listing negative adjectives, you’re still going to continue to use the negative form when a new adjective comes along. In English, you’ll find that you mention the negative once and it just seems to cover the entire list of adjectives, but these are on a case to case basis in Japanese, and you have to include the negative form as well as the connective te-form for each of them. But, look on the bright side, at least you don’t have to worry about articles like a, an and the getting in the way.

Na-Adjectives’ Te-Form | ナ形容詞のて形

So, as we’ve already covered in the previous lessons, na-adjectives are grouped with the helpful category of no-adjectives that are all basically treated like nouns grammatically. In a way, it is a bit convenient as you can learn a noun and an adjective at the same time when you learn one of these as a vocabulary word. Anyway, this will assist you with compound sentences in future, so you can feel good knowing you’re multitasking and preparing for your future.

So, in comparison to the mathematics and logistics of i-adjectives, you’ll hopefully find na-adjectives refreshing in this department. In this case, if there is a modifier present, which is usually when it’s being attached to a noun, you’ll simply remove な, na, and replace it with で, de. But, Kiki-sensei, Kouko-sensei, how is this て-form when it’s a で, de?, you may proclaim in confusion, in which case we say… this is only going to say this is only the beginning of the te-form madness. We swear, we’ll make sure it will make sense to you when it comes, but until then, turn and face the strange, you’ll have to face quite a few ch-ch-ch-changes as it comes to conjugating te-forms for verbs. But, for now, で, de, will be a very simple rule that you can feel good about being able to grasp. Te-form just refers to the form rather than what it may become. This is just a preview of what is to come.

特別→特別+で→ 特別で
とくべつな→ とくべつ+で → どくべつで
tokubetsu na→ tokubetsu + de → tokubetsu de

Remember, as well, this isn’t the same で as the particle we’ve covered before. This will be a great time to start sort of compartmentalising the different usages based on context.

Anyway! Let’s take a look at an example of some na-adjectives, which many na-adjectives are interchangeably no-adjectives, and they’re all treated as nouns, so… the sooner you’re used to that, the easier it’ll become. It’s all a case-by-case sort of thing. But, let’s have a look:

不可欠 便利 素敵な 道具です。

ふかけつ べんり すてきな どうぐです。

fukaketsu de benri de suteki na dougu desu.

(This is) an indispensable, convenient, wonderful device.

Sounds like a great sales pitch to us, where do we sign? But, what about listing negative na-adjectives, you may wonder. Actually, this would fall under the category of i-adjectives, if you remember last lesson’s examples. But, here, let’s give a bit of an example to help. Again, not to confuse anyone, but negative na-form adjectives are i-adjectives as a whole. It’s… We’ll just show you:

他の道具は不可欠じゃなくて 便利じゃなくて 素敵じゃない です。

ふかけつ べんり すてきな どうぐです。

fukaketsu de benri de suteki na dougu desu.

Others are not indispensable, not convenient, and not wonderful.

We’re not sure about this sales tactic and this obviously isn’t the absolute best adjectives to use in this case, but hopefully this gives a good idea in comparison to the previous one. ない、nai, again, is an i-adjective, technically, so once na-adjectives have been converted to negative form, they follow new rules.

As you may see, this may be a bit much to absorb in one sitting, but you can return as many times as you wish in order to revise/review until you feel comfortable. Remember, at some point, you’ll have to utilise these language tools automatically if you want to properly communicate. But, don’t rush yourself, it’s definitely not expected that you’ll suddenly become a conjugation master after your first few exposures. So, be patient with yourself and always return with fresh eyes and a chill attitude, and just enjoy. Not everything will be at the same level as memorising vocabulary, but you should embrace the challenge and take the journey for what it is.

But! Before we leave you to that, we have a few commonly asked questions that should certainly assist you.

Do you use commas?

When you’re listing adjectives, you don’t have to use commas, the ending te-form basically covers all of that. You don’t have to worry whether or not to use that Oxoford comma or even whether or not you should use ‘and’ because, again, it’s all covered.

So, you can think of this as oddly enough at least a little simpler than English, as you only have to worry about conjugating without the added pressure of punctuation.

What do you do with the last adjective in the list?

So, when you get to the end of the list, whether it’s two adjectives or ten adjectives (in which case, you probably want to start a new sentence, that’s quite a few adjectives), the last adjective stays in its usual form. If it’s in front of a noun, it stays as is or if it’s at the end of the sentence, it also stays as is. So, nothing to worry about, there.

What about Mixing Na-adjectives and I-Adjectives?

This just functions as if you were listing any other adjectives. You simply use the same way of conjugating that’s appropriate for that specific adjective, and then plug them into the sentence. Luckily, listing is listing, and you don’t have to worry about different ways of putting them in a sentence when you’re mixing adjectives.

ふわふわで 可愛くて 大きな わんちゃんだわ♡

ふわふわで かわいくて おおきな わんちゃんだわ♡

fuwa fuwa de kawaikute ookina wanchan da wa♡

(They’re a) fluffy, cute, big puppo♡

And, there you have it, folks! Now, when you’re on a long AND winding road, you’ll be able to string more than one descriptive word along. And… well, we have to admit, winding is a verb even in Japanese, but it still follows the same rule for the first part.In order to not leave this open-ended without a conclusion, long and winding road would be:長く曲がりくねった道, nagaku magarikunetta michi. So, there you have it. Now, no one will lay awake at night wondering what the translation actually was.

Hopefully, this was a helpful lesson as we covered the tools you need to conjugate more adjectives. Now, you’ll be able to practise listing more than one adjective at a time, when you get the hand of it. We’re sure after you’ve had a go of it, you’ll catch on. But, don’t rush yourself. It takes time for concepts to sink in and for them to become automatic enough to be used conversationally. But, you should embrace the journey of it. It’s about learning and growing one step at a time. Simply take each accomplishment and celebrate that milestone, whether it’s learning a new character or a new way of conjugating. It’s all another step closer to your goals. And, maybe your goal is to simply learn for fun and keep your mind active with new challenges. Whether you plan to become a scholar or just want to recognise some Japanese language and use it on your travels or from your home, we’ll be there with you every step of the way.

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