A guide to Japanese Grammar: 3 (な adjectives, ~ところ, and turning い adjectives into nouns)

In Japanese by Jeremy Arns

The last lesson covered い adjectives, now let’s get into another type of adjective– な adjectives, and then switch topics to another grammar point covering how to say you are “just about” to do something, just did something, or was just about to do something. Last, we’ll cover how to turn い adjectives into nouns.

な adjectives

Most な adjectives are nouns on their own, which can be turned into an adjective by using な at the end of it. This can’t be done for every noun, so don’t start sticking な on to the end of random nouns to turn them into adjectives!

Let’s look at some な adjectives:
元気 (health; vigor)
便利 (convenient)
綺麗 (pretty; beautiful)

These don’t have their な adjective marker attached, so currently these aren’t in an adjective form. Just like with い adjectives, you first say the adjective, then followed by a noun.

元気人 (healthy / lively person)
便利道具 (convenient / handy tool)
綺麗花 (pretty flower)

Conjugating な adjectives (or rather, not conjugating them!)

Unlike い adjectives, な adjectives aren’t conjugated, you can simply add です without using な (in any of it’s forms / tenses), like this:

元気です
元気でした
元気ではありません
元気ではありませんでした

Pretty easy! Let’s learn something that seems like it’d be an exception to the rule, but isn’t.

綺麗(きれい)pretty; beautiful

Notice how this ends in い. When pattern searching, it seems like this would be an い adjective, however the reason why it ends in い is because it’s built into the pronunciation of the word itself. (The character 麗 is pronounced れい). In an alternate reality, where 綺麗 is an い adjective, it would be spelled 綺麗い (きれいい).

Another more misleading word is 嫌い (hate). This definitely looks like an い adjective, doesn’t it? The い is written in kana, touching kanji. In this case, it doesn’t appear that the pronunciation would be built into the word the same way 綺麗 (きれい) is, which is spelled using all kanji. This one too is a な adjective however.

嫌い味 (a flavor that is hated)

Indicating “Just about”, “Just did”, or “In the process currently”

Let’s switch topics to a new grammar point which can be used to indicate whether you’re just about to do something, just did something, or are currently in the process of doing something.

~ところです (polite form)
~ところだ (plain form)

This is added on to the end of an action, and let’s it be known it’s just about to occur (or was just about to occur), depending on the tense of the first part of the sentence.

シャワーを浴びるところです
I’m just about to take a shower.

シャワーを浴びたところです
I just took a shower.

シャワーを浴びているところです
I was about to take a shower

Notice that the sentence appears to be in the plain form until the end of the sentence where です is used. This doesn’t make the sentence plain however, all of these examples are in the polite form! This is grammatically how you construct these sentences, even if you are wanting to stick to polite form only.

The word ところ also means “place” or “spot” (所). You can use this to think of the fact that the state of the action (or the state it’s about to be in) is in that spot. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it this way!

Let’s look at 浴びています vs 浴びているところでした。 What’s the difference? Why would you use ~ているところでした, instead of just using ~ています?

This can be used when something else happened when you were doing something. For instance “When the door rang, I was taking a shower”. or “The phone rang when I was just about to take a shower”.

ドアベルが鳴った時、シャワーを浴びているところでした
When the door bell rang, I was taking a shower.

電話が鳴った時、シャワーを浴びるところでした
When the phone rang, I was just about to take a shower.

Turning い adjectives into nouns

Turning an い adjective into a noun is incredibly easy. It’s as simple as dropping the , and adding . Let’s look at a couple い adjectives in their adjective form.

強い (strong)
弱い (weak)

Again, to turn these into a noun, simply drop and add , like this:

=強さ
=弱さ

This turns a word like “Strong” into “Strength”, and a word like “Weak” into “Weakness”.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more lessons!

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