101 Basic Japanese Adverbs You Need to Know

Japanese adverb, otherwise known as fukushi ( 副詞・ふくし), is an important element in the Japanese language. In fact, it will feel off if you don’t include them. Basic sentence structure includes a noun, object and a verb, but what happens if you want to make your conversation more interesting and descriptive? 

If you’re a beginner, it can be frustrating to only be able to explain something with little to no detail. When you’ve mastered the necessary grammar patterns, it’s time to move on to the complexities of using adverbs — although, with practice, you’ll realize that it’s actually not that hard. (See how we use an adverb there?) Really, the rules are simpler than how they sound. 

In this article, we’ll be walking you through how to use Japanese adverbs and change adjectives to adverbs. Along the way, we’l be giving example sentences.

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How are English Adverbs Different from Japanese Adverbs?

Although their functions parallel English adverbs, there are a few distinctions between both languages. Japanese adverbs are boxed based on their characteristics. While you’ll find most English adverbs ending with a ~ly (commonly, effectively, fluently — just to name a few), Japanese adverbs are more varied (more of that later).

Another key difference is its placement. Unlike in English, Japanese adverbs can be placed anywhere in a sentence as long as they appear before the verb. 

Let’s get one thing straight: no matter which one, adverbs serve the purpose of giving context, and they’re generally used for verbs. 

Take a look at the example below.

私たちは一緒(いっしょ)に試験(しけん)を勉強(べんきょう)しています
WeTogetherExamLearning
SubjectAdverbObjectVerb

No matter the adverb is placed, the meaning won’t change (“We are learning exam together“).

You can put the adverb before an object or a verb.

  • Subject は + Object を + Adverb + Verb
  • Subject は + Adverb + Object を + Verb

一緒に試験を勉強しています。
Issho ni shiken wo benkyou shite imasu.

試験を一緒に勉強しています。
Shiken wo issho ni wo benkyou shite imasu.

How to Use Japanese Adverbs

Of course, as you receive more advanced Japanese study materials, you’ll find that more complex sentence patterns. In fact, you don’t always have to pair an adverb with 「Object を + Verb」.

Unlike an adjective, which can only be paired with a noun, adverbs are more versatile. They can to be paired with a word, be it a verb or 動詞 (doshi), an adjective or 形容詞 (keiyōshi), or even another adverb.

  • いつも電車で学校へ行きます。
    いつもでんしゃでがっこうへいきます。
    (I) always go to school by train.
  • 彼女にとっては私が結局ただの友達だ。
    かのじょにとってはわたしがけっきょくただのともだちだ
    After all, I’m just a friend to her.
  • ワクチンはほとんど痛くなかった。
    ワクチンはほとんどいたくなかった。
    The vaccine didn’t hurt very much.

In all of the examples above, all of the adverb are tailed by a verb, adjective or a noun. The word ‘barely’ (ほとんど) is put in front of the adjective ‘hurt’ (痛い).

Take a look at another example, where we use an adverb for another adverb.

  • 先生は本当に優しく教えます。
    せんせいはほんとうにやさしくおしえます。
    The teacher teaches really kindly.

Turning Adjectives into Japanese Adverbs 

In the Japanese language, you can modify almost all of its adjectives (形容詞・けいようし) into adverbs. Most of them will share the same meaning — similar to English. The word ‘effective’ and ‘fluent’, for example, can be altered into ‘effectively’ and ‘fluently’.

How you change Japanese adjectives to adverbs is based on conjugation rules — which, again, depending on the type of adjective a word belongs to.

There are two classifications: 「い」adjectives and 「な」adjectives.

「い」Adjectives

You’ve probably heard popular words like「かっこい!」or「かわいい!」on anime, talk shows — or even manga. Notice how all of them end with an ‘i’? That’s how easy it is to identify an 「い」adjective.

By changing the final い (i) to く (ku), an adjective will turn into an adverb. It’s pretty similar to how you add ‘ly’ on adjectives to English.

い-adjectives + い (i) → い-adjectives + く(ku)

KanjiAdjectiveAdverb
強いつよい
Strong
つよ
Strongly
弱いよわい
Weak
よわ
Weakly
速いはやい
Quick
はや
Quickly
遅いおそい
Slow
おそ
Slowly
高いたかい
High
たか
Highly

There is an exception to the い-adjective: 良い・いい. Instead of いく, it will be transformed into よく. This is because the word’s original spelling is よい. Although the form has changed, all its derivations and conjugations remain the same.

な」Adjectives

Although a bit trickier than the「い」adjective, but you can easily identify a「な」adjective when you hear the particle な (na) adjective before a noun (for example, 幸せ「しあわせ」 人)

You don’t need to erase anything from the actual adjective word. Instead, replace with (ni) to convert a な (na) adjective into an adverb.

な-adjectives + な (na)な-adjectives + に(ni)

KanjiAdjectiveAdverb
幸せ
しあわせ
幸せな
Happy
幸せ
Happily
静か
しずか
静か な
Quiet
静か
Quietly
元気
げんき
元気 な
Energetic (healthy)
元気
Energetically
上手
じょうず
上手 な
Skillful
上手
Skillfully
下手
へた
下手 な
Unskillful
下手
Unskillfully

Although it seems that all adverbs are acquired from adjectives, that is not always the case. These adverbs do not have a specific form or rule to recognize them with, so you must learn each vocabulary word and they are just as important to remember. However, they are utilized in a similar way as all the other adverbs.

Non-adjectival Japanese Adverbs

Although most adjectives can be turned into adverbs, not all adverbs are related to adjectives. This is an important point because Japanese people will use a list of general adverbs that don’t have an original term. They don’t have any identifiable pattern, so you will have to remember each vocabulary alone.

Most non-adjectival adverbs are used to indicate frequency, time and place. Here are a few common examples of adverbs that don’t originate from a parent adjective.

AdjectiveMeaningExample sentence
ゆっくりSlowlyゆっくり歩いて(あるいて)います
(I am) walking slowly.
たくさんA lotたくさんご飯(ごはん)を食べたい(たべたい)です
(I) want to eat a lot of food.
ちょっとA bitちょっと待って(まって)よ
Please wait a moment.
たぶんMaybe; perhapsそれはたぶん無理(むり)です
That is probably impossible.
徐々じょじょGradually; little by little徐々に上手になります。
Gradually becoming skillful.
やっとFinally; at lastやっと授業(じゅぎょう)が終わった(おわった)!
The class is finally over!
もっとMore; further; even moreもっと頑張れ(がんばれ)
Put in more effort!
きっとSurely; almost certainly あなたの願い(ねがい)はきっと叶う(かなう)よ
Your wish will surely come true.
ずっとAlwaysあなたのことがずっと好き(すき)だった
I’ve liked you for a very long time.
ぜひCertainly; without failぜひ見て(みて)ください
Please be sure to look at it.

A lot of these Japanese adverbs end with ~tto. Curious to know more about them? We’ve made a more in-depth guide on motto, chotto, kitto, zutto, and and more!

Types of Japanese Adverbs

We can divide Japanese adverbs into several categories, including time, frequency, place, manner and degree.

Adverbs of degree

Adding one adverb in a sentence can be the difference between making or ruining someone’s day. What if you say “You are not so beautiful” instead of “You are very beautiful?”

This is where adverbs of degree are used to stipulate the scale or extent of something. We’ll be listing some of the must-know adverbs in descending order.

Take a look at some examples below.

  • 私は炊事が全然できない。
    わたしはすいじがぜんぜんできない。
    I can’t cook at all.
  • 彼は非常に意識のある人です。
    かれはひじょうにいしきのあるひとです。
    He is a man of great knowledge.
KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
1.非常にひじょうにhijou nivery much
2.とてもtotemovery
3.極めてきわめてkiwameteextremely
4.随分ずいぶんzuibunvery
5.沢山たくさんtakusanvery
6.本当にほんとうにhontou nireally
7.大体だいたいdaitaimostly
8.大分だいぶdaibuconsiderably; greatly
9.丁度ちょうどchoudojust; exactly
10.かなりkanarifairly
11.相当にそうとうにsoutou nipretty
12.僅かにわずかにwazuka nislightly; barely
13.ほぼhoboabout; roughly
14.少しすこしsukoshia little bit
15.まあまあmaamaaso-so
16.中々なかなかnakanakaquite
17.そこそこsokosokoreasonably
18.余りあまりamari(not) very
19.たいしてtaishite(not so) much
20.全然ぜんぜんzenzen(not) at all

The adverb とても is normally only used with positive sentences. If you want the opposite, opt for あまり or ぜんぜん. Both will need a negative sentence.

Adverbs based of frequency

How often do you do something? Is it always, sometimes — or never? This is when Japanese adverbs of frequency are used. They are usually placed before the main action word or another adverb.

Take a look at some examples below.

  • めったに寿司を食べていません。
    めったにすしをたべていません。
    (I) rarely eat sushi.
  • もうずっと忘れてた。
    もうずっとわすれてた。
    Ah, I’ve already forgotten about since ages ago.
KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
21.いつもitsumoAlways
22.ずっとzuttoAlways (continuously)
23.よくyokuOften
24.通常つうじょうtsuujouUsually
25.度々たびたびtabitabiOften
26.時々ときどきtokidokiSome
27.たまにtama niSometimes
28.あまりamariRarely (negative form)
29.滅多にめったにmetta niRarely (negative form)
30.決してけっしてkesshiteNever (negative form)

Adverbs based on level of certainty

Adverbs of this kind are used to expand on the extent of how actions or adjectives (or even another adverb).

Take a look at some examples below.

  • 絶対に諦めない。
    ぜったいにあきらめない。
    I shall never give up.
  • 何事にも必ず終わりがある。
    なにごとにもかならずおわりがある。
    All things must have an end.
KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
31.絶対にぜったいにzettai niDefinitey
32.必ずかならずkanarazuWithout exception
33.是非ぜひzehiWithout fail
34.確かにたしかにtashika niCertainly
35.やはりyahariAs expected
36.きっとkittoSurely; undoubtedly
37.恐らくおそらくosorakuProbably
38.もしかしたらmoshikashitaraPerhaps; maybe
39.多分たぶんtabunMaybe

Adverbs based of time

Japanese adverbs of time indicate when something happens.

Take a look at some examples below.

  • 最近虫が多くなった。
    ぜったいにあきらめない。
    I shall never give up.
  • しばらくお待ちください。
    なにごとにもかならずおわりがある。
    All things must have an end.
KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
41.いまimaNow
42.今すぐにいますぐにima sugu niRight now
43.先にさきにsaki niPreviously
44.前にまえにmae niPreviously
45.後であとでato deLater
46.まだmadaYet
47.またmataStill
48.すぐすぐsuguSoon
49.すでにAlready
50.先ほどさきほどsaki hodoJust now
51.暫くしばらくshibarakuFor a while
52.結局けっきょくkekkyokuEventually
53.今日きょうkyouToday
54.明日あしたashitaTomorrow
55.明後日あさってasatteThe day after tomorrow
56.昨日きのうkinouYesterday
57.一昨日おとといototoiTwo days ago
58.今朝けさkesaThis morning
59.今夜こにゃkonyaTonight
60.毎日まいにちmainichiDaily; every day
61.毎週まいしゅうmaishuuWeekly
62.毎月まいげつmaigetsuMonthly
63.毎年まいねんmainenAnnually
64.やっとyattoFinally
65.最近さいきんsaikinRecently
66.最初にさいしょにsaisho niFirst
67.最後にさいごにsaigo niLast

Adverbs based of manner

Also called 方法の福祉・ほうほうのふくし, Japanese adverbs of manner describe how an action or thing happen. This is where you’ll find most adjective-derived adverbs being used.

Take a look at the example down below.

  • 私は早く朝ご飯を食べます。
    わたしははやくあさごはんをたべます。
    I eat my breakfast quickly.
  • 私は朝ご飯を早く食べます。
    わたしははやくあさごはんをたべます。
    I quickly eat my breakfast.
KanjiHiraganaRomajiMeaning
68.固くかたくkatakuHardly; firmly
69.優しくやさしくyasashikuSoftly
70.明るくあかるくakarukuBrightly
71.暗くくらくkurakuDarkly; grimly
72.高くたかくtakakuHighly
73.低くひくくhikukuLow
74.ゆっくりyukkuriSlowly
75.遅くおそくosokuTardily
76.早くはやくhayakuQuickly
77.静かにしずかにshizuka niQuietly
78.うるさくurusakuLoudly
79.簡単にかんたんにkantan niEasily
80.丁寧にていねいにteinei niCarefully; politely
81.特にとくにtoku niEspecially
82.一緒にいっしょにissho niTogether
83.そのままsono mamaas it is; without change
84.急にきゅうにkyuu niSuddenly
85.突然とつぜんtotsuzenSuddenly
86.偶然にぐうぜんにguuzen niAccidentally
87.新しくあたらしくatarashikuNewly

Japanese adverbs: Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia is a word that resembles the actual sound of the thing they refer to. In English, you’ll encounter words like “tick-tock” from a clock, or “vroom” from a car.

Although it falls under the same umbrella, Japanese onomatopoeia has a wider range of meanings. Not just sound sources, these words can also reflect a mood or emotion. This is why it’s hard to guess the meaning of the word just from the sound alone. For example, ペラペラ means fluent — but you probably don’t know about it.

The good news is this: common onomatopoeia are reduplications — meaning, the whole word is repeated exactly or with a slight change. They sound catchy (like ドキドキ or ペコペコ), so it’s not half as bad as memrizing, say, the whole N4 kanji unit. A lot of onomatopoeia is followed by the particle と (to).

  • Subject は + Adverb (onomatopoeia) と + Object を + Verb
  • 俺はイライラと試験を復習しました。
    おれはイライラとしけんをふくしゅうしました
    I annoyingly reviewed the exam.

  • Subject は + Adverb (onomatopoeia) と + Predicate
  • 去年の冬がめちゃくちゃ寒かっただ。
    きょねんのふゆがめちゃくちゃさむかっただ。
    Last year’s winter was very cold.

    HiraganaRomajiMeaning
    88.ぶつぶつbutsu butsugrumble; domplain
    89.もぐもぐmogu mogumumble
    90. ペラペラpera perafluently
    91. ペコペコpeko pekovery hungry; starving
    92.ちびちびchibi chibilittle by little
    93.むしゃむしゃmusha musha(munch) ravenously
    94.ズルズルzuru zuruslowly; slurp
    95.パリパリpari paricrunchy; rispy
    96.いそいそiso isocheerful
    97.いらいらira irairritated, annoyeed
    98.ふわふわfuwa fuwasoft; fluffy
    99.モチモチmochi mochispringy; doughy; chewy
    100.くらくらkura kurafeel dizzy; giddy
    101.むしむしmushi mushihot and humid

    Conclusion

    Learning Japanese adverb is the next step after you’ve mastered all the basic Japanese words and phrases. Instead of memorizing everything at once, we recommend going over them slowly.

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