Japanese Adverbs 101: A Simple Guide To Increase Your Proficiency

Man-traditional japanese house-japanese adverbs-

Have you ever been served a bland meal? A meal without any flavor. That’s what a conversation would be like if adjectives and adverbs didn’t exist, flat discussions without any emotion. Previously, we talked about how adjectives flavor language and modify nouns. Now the question is, who complements the adjective or the verb? Adverbs give more detailed information about what happens with the verb, an adjective, and even another adverb. What does this mean? For instance, they intensify or flatten a meal’s flavor (adjective); they tell you how, when, where, and how often to eat that meal.

If you want to be proficient in Japanese and express yourself fluently, mastering adjectives and verbs is not enough. Japanese adverbs 副詞 (fukushi) allow us to give specific information about the topic we are talking about. As a result, you will be able to express yourself more clearly and accurately. Would you like to know how to use Japanese adverbs? じゃ、始めよう!

What Is An Adverb?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Japanese adverbs, let’s look at the following definition of an adverb, as it is essential to clearly understand what an adverb is to use it correctly in any language.

Adverbs refer to words that function as modifiers for verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They play a critical role in meaning-making because they help to specify how, when and where something happened. They can also indicate the degree of a quality or quantity as well as the extent or scope of an action.

Now that we know what an adverb is, let’s get down to business!

The Difference Between Japanese And English Adverbs

wood blocks with wishes written- temple- english adverbs frequency adverbs

Generally speaking, Japanese adverbs and English adverbs function similarly. Adverbs in English are easy to recognize because they usually end in “ly,” although there are exceptions. A significant difference between Japanese adjectives and English adjectives is their placement. Japanese adverbs can appear anywhere in the sentence as long as they precede the verb they modify.

How Do Japanese Adverbs Work?

If this is the first time you hear the term “Japanese adverbs,” you may feel a little intimidated. But in fact, if you’ve been studying Japanese for a while, chances are you’ve used the adverbs without even knowing it. For example, if you’ve used the words いっも (itsumo-always), よく(yoku-often), or 多分(tabun-maybe), you already know some Japanese adverbs.

As mentioned in the previous section, the placement of Japanese adverbs is quite versatile.

Let’s see some examples.

1-彼女は速く走ります。

  • Kanojo wa hayaku hashirimasu.
  • She runs fast.

2-私はいつも朝ごはんを食べます。

  • Watashi wa itsumo asagohan wo tabemasu.
  • I always have breakfast.

3-時々私は運動します。

  • Tokidoki watashi wa undō shimasu.
  • Sometimes I exercise.

4-彼は野菜をほとんど食べません。

  • Kare wa yasai wo hotondo tabemasen.
  • He rarely eats vegetables.

How To Turn A Japanese Adjective Into An Adverb?

Japanese orange temple-degree adverbs

Looking at the examples above, you may notice that example number one uses an adverb derived from an adjective (速い → 速く). This is because, in Japanese, there are adverbs that come from adjectives and non-adjective-derived adverbs.

The rule to convert a Japanese adjective into an adverb is very simple: you have to consider whether it is an い-adjective or な- adjective.  

I-adjectives→Adverb: Replace the ( い) with (く)

Examples:

  • 速い + く = 速く | Fast → Fastly
  • 優しい + く = 優し  | Gentle → Gently
  • 悲しい + く= 悲しく  | Sad → Sadly

Na-adjectives→Adverb: Add () to the end adjective.

Examples:

  • 簡単→ 簡単 | Easy→Easily
  • 幸せ→ 幸せに  | Happy→Happily
  • 静か→ 静か| Quiet → Quietly

Japanese adverbs can be divided into different categories: time, frequency, places, manners, and degrees. But their classifications are not something you need to worry about. Understanding how to use them is more than enough. However, even though you don’t need to know their category to use them correctly, it doesn’t hurt to know their type.

Most Commonly Used Japanese Adverbs

Here is a list of the most common adverbs in the Japanese language, so you can enrich your vocabulary and create more meaningful sentences.

EnglishJapaneseRomajiSound
Adverbs of time時間の副詞Jikan no fukushi
Yesterday昨日Kinou
Today今日Kyou
Tomorrow明日Ashita
NowIma
Then次にTsugini
Later後でAtode
Tonight今夜Konya
This morning今朝Kesa
Next week来週Raishuu
AlreadyすでにSudeni
Recently最近Saikin
EarlyもうすぐMousugu
ImmediatelyすぐにSugu ni
Adverbs of place場所の副詞Basho no fukushi
HereここKoko
ThereそこSoko
Over thereあそこAsoko
EverywhereどこにでもDoko ni demo
WhereverどこでもDoko demo
NowhereどこにもDoko ni mo
Adverbs of manner方法の副詞Houhou no fukushi
veryとてもTotemo
QuiteかなりKanari
Much結構Kekkou
Really本当にHontou ni
Quick速いHayai
Right/wellよくYoku
Quickly速くHayaku
SlowlyゆっくりYukkuri
BarelyあまりAmari
Mostly主にOmo ni
AlmostほとんどHotondo
Adverbs of frequency周波数の副詞Shuuhasuu no fukushi
AlwaysいつもItsumo
Frequently頻繁にHinpan ni – 頻繁に
As usual通常Tsuujoo – 通常
Sometimes時々Tokidoki – 時々
RarelyめったにMettani
Adverbs of degree程度の副詞Teidonofukushi
Plenty沢山Takusan
Slightly/barely,僅かにWazukani
A little/a few少しSukoshi
Strongly強くTsuyoku
Weakly弱くYowaku
Mostly大体Daitai
Just/precisely丁度Chōdo

Final Thoughts

Japanese grammar lessons can be overwhelming, especially if your native language is entirely different. Still, don’t be discouraged! As you can see, some topics are easier than you may think. In fact, Japanese adverbs are pretty simple. If you practice and take into consideration the aspects we introduced today, you’ll be able to make plans, speak with more clarity, and express yourself in a way people will want to hear. You will build a solid foundation that will lead you to fluency in no time.

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