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.

[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]彼女は速く走ります[/Speechword]

  • Kanojo wa hayaku hashirimasu.
  • She runs fast.

[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]私はいつも朝ごはんを食べます[/Speechword]

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

[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]時々私は運動します[/Speechword]

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

[Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]彼は野菜をほとんど食べません[/Speechword]

  • 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)


  • 速い + く = 速く | Fast → Fastly
    [Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]速く[/Speechword]
  • 優しい + く = 優し  | Gentle → Gently
    [Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]優しく[/Speechword]
  • 悲しい + く= 悲しく  | Sad → Sadly
    [Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]悲しく[/Speechword]

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


  • 簡単→ 簡単 | Easy→Easily
    [Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]簡単に[/Speechword]
  • 幸せ→ 幸せに  | Happy→Happily
    [Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]幸せに[/Speechword]
  • 静か→ 静か| Quiet → Quietly
    [Speechword voice=”Japanese Female” isinline]静かに[/Speechword]

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.

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

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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