Adjectives in the form -sa / -sou / -me

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Today we will examine a little of Japanese adjectives. Japanese adjectives are words that assign a quality or characteristic to nouns. In the Japanese language, adjectives can be divided into 2 types, we write an article about adjectives, you can read by clicking here.

If you read our previous article, you must have learned the forms of the past and negative. Today we will go deeper into grammar and we will study the "-sa" and "-sou" forms.


-sa form

The Japanese language is very flexible with adjectives. The shape "-Sa" allows you to transform a finished adjective into "-I" in a noun or similar word.

It is very easy to do this. Just replace the "I" at the end of the adjective "Sa".  Example: 楽しい (tanoshii, pleasant) becomes joy when we put the "Sa" 楽しさ (tanoshisa).

See some more examples: 

Adjective Romaji Meaning Forma SA Romaji Meaning
楽し Tanoshi i nice 楽し Tanoshi sa joy
美し Utsukushi i beautiful 美し Utsukushi sa beauty
新し Atarashi i new 新し Atarashi sa news
赤し aka i red aka sa redness
大し Ooki i great 大き Ooki sa size, dimensions

Example sentence:

  • 日本のお寺の美しさが好きです;
  • nihon no otera no utsukushisa ga suki desu;
  • I like the beauty of Japanese temples;


form -am

The way I am expressed that something seems to be in a certain way. It is used in some cases to say something like: it looks red (akasou).

Just replace the last "i" in the adjective with "am". Example: 楽しい (tanoshii, pleasant) becomes 楽しそう (tanoshisou) or something like: It looks fun or pleasant.

Adjective Romaji Meaning Shape am Romaji
楽し Tanoshi i nice 楽しそう Tanoshi am
美し Utsukushi i beautiful 美しそう Utsukushi am
新し Atarashi i new 新しそう Atarashi am
aka i red そう aka am
大き Ooki i great 大きそう Ooki am

Example sentence:

  • この料理はとても美味しそうです;
  • このりょうりはとてもおいしそうです;
  • Kono Ryouri wa totemo oishisou desu;
  • This dish looks very delicious;
  • このスポーツは簡単そう
  • Kono SUPOUTSU wa kantanam;
  • This sport seems simple;


Shape me

The me form, like the previous ones, is created by replacing the “i” with “me” and is used to give a meaning or comparison of “more or less”, “approximately”, “middle” and “around” in some adjectives , very similar to the English “-ish”.

A comparison is not always made, in some adjectives this is just a complement and makes the sentence a little more polished.

The origin of the form "me" it really comes from kanji with eyes. We must remember that  - eye 目(め) also means a trend, an inclination, a point of view, an experience and of course a comparative. You must be careful not to confuse the "me" in adjectives with eyes, because this can be very easy. 小さ目 can be confused with small eyes, so when finishing an adjective with me, we don't use kanji.

Look some examples:

Remembering that putting a fully correct translation for these adjectives is a bit complicated, just studying these words and living to understand the true essence and feeling that each adjective has.

  • 大きい = Large / 大きめ = Larger
  • 早い = Fast / 早め = Early
  • Ame 着いた hayame ni tsuita = I arrived early
  • 小さめ = a little small

I wish I could explain more how "-me" but I still find it quite complex. If you have some simpler examples or explanations, comment to help readers understand a little more about the way -me like the other forms mentioned in the article.

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