Learning Japanese Adverbs -
Free Japanese Lessons: 25

There are 2 types of Japanese adverbs 副詞 (fukushi).

One can be formed by making simple change to adjectives. The other type of adverbs consists of some pre-defined characters which do not derived from adjectives.

We all know that in English, adjectives are used to describe nouns and adverbs are used to describe verbs. That's the same in Japanese. For example...

  • せんせいが おおきいじ をかきました。
    sensei ga ookii ji wo kakimashita

    Meaning: Teacher wrote a big word.

...the adjective おおきい (ookii - big) is describing the noun じ (ji - word).

In order to describe the action of the teacher (how she wrote the word), you will need to put in the adverb. Note that Japanese adverbs always come before verbs. Therefore using the above example...

  • せんせいがじを おおきく かきました。
    sensei ga ji wo ookiku kakimashita

    Meaning: Teacher wrote the word with big strokes.

  • せんせいがじを きれいに かきました。
    sensei ga ji wo kirei ni kakimashita

    Meaning: Teacher wrote the word neatly.

Japanese Adverbs

In the above 2 examples, the adverbs おおきく (ookiku) and きれいに (kirei ni) are describing the actions of teacher (how she wrote the word).

1. Changing Adjectives to Adverbs

How to change an adjective to an adverb? Since there are 2 types of adjectives (i-adjective and na-adjective), there are 2 different rules governing the change.

i-adjectives: い-adj(~) く Verb (Action)

na-adjectives: な-adj に Verb (Action)

For i-adjectives, you just need to replace the い (i) in the adjective with く (ku). Whereas for na-adjectives, append the hiragana に (ni) to the adjective.

Let's use some more examples to show how easy to form adverbs using adjectives...

  1. わたしはゆうべうちへ はやく/おそく かえりました。
    watashi wa yuube uchi e hayaku/osoku kaerimashita

    Meaning: I went home early/late last night.

  2. ともだちはいつも はやく/おそく あるきます。
    tomodachi wa itsumo hayaku/osoku arukimasu

    Meaning: My friend always walks quickly/slowly.

  3. せんせいはにほんごを じょうずに はなします。
    sensei wa nihongo wo jouzu ni hanashimasu

    Meaning: Teacher speaks Japanese nicely/skillfully.

There are 2 meanings for はやい (hayai). It can mean early or fast depending on the context of the sentence. Similarly, おそい (osoi) can mean late or slowly depending on the sentence's context.

2. Regular Japanese Adverbs

The second type of Japanese adverbs is not derived from adjectives. This group of adverbs are regular adverbs which we use frequently in sentences.

I will list some of the most commonly used adverbs with examples.

a. はっきり (hakkiri) - clearly, distinctly

  • はっきり せつめいしてください。
    hakkiri setsumei shite kudasai

    Meaning: Please explain clearly.

b. ゆっくり (yukkuri) - slowly, at ease

  • ゆっくり あるきなさい。
    yukkuri arukinasai

    Meaning: Walk slowly.

c. すこし (sukoshi) - little, few, small quantity

  • わたしは すこし つかれています。
    watashi wa sukoshi tsukarete imasu

    Meaning: I am a little tired.

d. ほとんど (hotondo) - almost, nearly

  • わたしは ほとんど まいにちテレビをみています。
    watashi wa hotondo mainichi terebi wo mite imasu

    Meaning: I am watching tv almost every day.

e. あまり~ない (amari~nai) - not very, not much (used with negative)

  • かれは あまり せがたかくない。
    kare wa amari se ga takakunai

    Meaning: He is not very tall.

f. ぜんぜん~ない (zenzen~nai) - completely, not at all (used with negative)

  • かのじょは ぜんぜん おさけをのまない。
    kanojo wa zenzen osake wo nomanai

    Meaning: She doesn't drink (alcohol) at all.

There are many more regular Japanese adverbs which I will introduce in the Japanese words and vocabulary section.

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