In this article we will talk about the basic colors and a few more, there are about 500 colors in Japanese, little by little we will put them in parts.
After the explanation you will have a pdf to download a few colors to learn each time you look at them, there will also be exercises to print the colors in Japanese, and also interactive exercises, so you can choose what suits you best.
COLORS IN JAPANESE: BASICS
Color in Japanese is IRO (いろ / 色).
Due to the strong influence of English on Japanese, there are a number of colors that have two ways of saying each other, one predominating over the other or used depending on the context.
These five colors in this form function as nouns, in order to use them as adjectives to describe other nouns we have to add い.
- Aka (あか / 赤), (RED): It is a basic color, (and only with these is it done this way) to transform it into an adjective and conjugate it, you have to add -い.
Example 赤い akai ( meaning IS RED)
- Kiiro (黄色), (YELLOW): It is a basic color, so we will have to add い, when we want to transform it, and say it is yellow 黄色い (kiiroi).
- Ao (あお / 青), (BLUE): It is also said, ブルー (Buruu) It does not have much use, other than in commercial uses to highlight the name of a product or the like.
- Kuro (くろ / 黒), (BLACK): Black is a basic color in Japan, therefore い is added to use it otherwise such as an adjective.
Example: Kuroi (黒い) is black
- Shiro (しろ / 白), (WHITE): It is a basic color in Japanese. Therefore to change the noun form you have to add い.
Summary: Colors are adjectives in Japanese, these basic ones that we have just described.
COLORS IN JAPANESE (NOUNS)
- Purple in Japanese, it is better to say Murasaki.
- Red in Japanese, it is better to say Aka.
- Green in Japanese, it is better to say Midori.
- Black in Japanese, it is better to say Kuro.
- White in Japanese, it is better to say Shiro.
- Blue in Japanese, it is better to say Ao.
- Yellow in Japanese, it is better to say Kiiro.
This way they will understand you much better in a conversation.
These words above are nouns that refer to different colors. As a result, the particle “の(no)” is used when describing the color of something.
If you are not familiar with Japanese particles, take a look at this post.
Now let’s look at the basic sentence pattern for describing colors is: color + の + subject
Example 1: みどりの窓口(まどぐち)
Midori no madoguchi
Green window (usually referring to a train station ticket office in Japan).
Example 2: 紫(むらさき)の靴下(くつした)
Murasaki no kutsushita
JAPANESE ADJECTIVES TO DESCRIBE COLORS
Color can also be described by adjectives. Surprisingly, there are only 5 colors that will become an adjective when “い” is added directly to the back. As well explained above.
Why are these colors so special? It is because these were the basic forms of color in the ancient Japanese language. Each color was broadly categorized and these 5 colors have remained so ever since.
In Japanese, adjectives are conjugated. Ours in Spanish are not. What is red is red, we don’t conjugate it to make it red, so ours will always be: it was red, it wasn’t red, it is red…
In Japanese it would be like:
Example 1: あおい海(うみ), Aoi umi, meaning blue sea.
Example 2: 海(うみ)はあおいです, umi wa aoi desu, meaning the sea is blue.
Let’s look at other examples and cases:
- Present: 青い– aoi – is blue.
- Present Negative: 青くない – aokunai – not blue
- Past: 青かった – aokatta – was blue
- Negative Past: 青くなかった – aokunakatta – was not blue
There is 1 more color that can become an adjective . Why didn’t I put them together with the above 5 colors? This is because although it means brown color, “茶” cannot stand alone when used as colors.
It has to be put together with the word “色 (color iro) to become nouns for brown. As a result, when it becomes adjective, it is “茶色い” instead of “茶い”.
HOW TO SAY OTHER COLORS IN JAPANESE
Here we practice more Japanese colors, remember that it will not be very extensive, since it is necessary to go little by little with the colors, being so many, anyway you do not need the 500 colors, with knowing about 30-50 you already know more than many. The other hundreds of colors are used in Japanese painting and in kimonos and colored threads.
I told you before, that I would put a pdf, so if you want it, click on pdf of colors in Japanese.
As I told you before we are going to start doing the color exercises in Japanese, you can print them or do the interactive ones below.
To access the downloadable color exercises in Japanese and print them, click on the link. There is Hiragana to practice with them and a word search to find them. We hope you like them.
We are about to finish the lesson on colors in Japanese. To finish, please complete the interactive exercises below.
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I hope you liked the article on Japanese colors.