Adverbs I

第55課: Adverbs I

Adverbs (副詞ふくし) modify verbs or adjectives, and although adverbs may show up in various places in a sentence, they are typically used at the beginning of a sentence. This isn’t a rule, and you still see adverbs just about anywhere. It is simply a trend that you will become familiarized with.

Adverbs come from various sources. However, not every kind of adverb will be discussed in this lesson, and we will continue learning more about adverbs in consecutive lessons. 


Most adverbs come from nouns. This sometimes makes it hard to tell when an adverb phrase is actually being used as a noun or not, but we’ll learn more about how to discern between them. You’ve actually already gotten used to such words. Temporal words and counters are great examples of things that can be nouns or adverbs

Only a handful of adverbs are true adverbs–もう (already). A “true adverb” can never be used as nouns, and not surprisingly, they don’t appear to come from nouns at all.

Below are some of the most common adverbs in Japanese. Before we get to example sentences, we’ll need to take into account the notes that follow the chart. 

 Now 今 Today 本日、今日 Yesterday 昨日
 Tomorrow 明日 Already もう Still; yet まだ
 At that time その時 A little 少し、ちょっと Sometimes 時々
 Immediately すぐに Fairly; quite かなり Almost ほとんど
 Again また Completely まったく Suddenly とつぜん

Usage Notes:

1. The general reading for 今日 is きょう. こんにち is formal and usually expected if used in formal writing. In general speech, it is usually limited to こんにちは. こんじつ is a rather outdated reading that you should not expect to see.
2. 本日 is read as ほんじつ, not ほんにち. It is very formal and usually treated as a 書き言葉.
3. 明日 is formally read as みょうにち. あす is slightly more formal than あした, but both are common readings in the spoken language.
4. 昨日 is formally read as さくじつ. However, this is usually restricted to very honorific speech or writing. Its normal reading is きのう.


1. 彼女はまだ時計見方みかたらない。
    She still doesn’t know how to tell time.

2. とりわけ今日い。
    Today is particularly cold. 

3. 救急車きゅうきゅうしゃ二台来にだいきました。(Polite)
    Two ambulances came.

4. ついにふゆわった。
    Winter has finally ended.

5. 薬品やくひん現在げんざいかなり安いです。(Formal)    
    Pharmaceuticals are currently fairly cheap.  

6a. きのうと比べてちょっとあたたかいね。(Casual)
6b. きのうと比べて{すこし・ちょっと}かいですね。(Polite)
       It’s a little warm compared to yesterday, isn’t it?

Vocab Note: あたたかい is written as かい in reference to heat of touch or emotion and かい as in reference to climate, body temperature, and even color. あたたかい may also be あたたかな or even あったか{い・な} in casual speech. Remember that な is used before nouns. As for “hot”, あつい refers to things being hot and あつい refers to the weather being hot. 

7. たくさんありますか。
  Is there a lot?/Do you have a lot?  

Grammar Note: たくさん may either be used as a noun or an adverb. Never say たくさんな when using this as a noun quantifier. 

 もう VS もっと

  Both have meanings of “more.” The first, though, can be used in the sense of “once more/further” and the second is “more” as in the degree of something. Aside from that, もう also means “already” and “shortly.” 

8a. もう一回いっかい 〇
8b. もっと一回  X
       Once more  

9. もっと時間必要ひつようだ。
      I need more time. 

10. 寿司すしをもうべた。
     I already ate the sushi.

11. もっとお金が必要ひつようです。 
      More money is necessary.

12. もうのクラスにうつった。
      I’ve already switched to a class above (the previous one).

13. もうすこしがんばって。
      Just keep on a little bit more.

14. もうわった。
     It has already ended.

Adverbs from the Particle て

Some て phrases are adverbial. These phrases have no “conjunctive” role as the literal grammatical function of て has been lost in them. It is best to treat them as separate words in your vocabulary. 

15. 歩いて10ぷんかかります。
      It will take 10 minutes by foot.

16a. それはめてです。
16b. それは初めて聞きました。 
16c. それは初耳です。(Idiom)
        That’s a new story to me/That’s first in my ears.