Cat purple or purple cat?

Hi all,

This could be a really silly question for someone so early on in their studies, but is there a general guideline when ordering nouns / verbs / adjectives in Japanese sentence structure? (Like how do I know if it’s purple cat or cat purple?) I know there are particles and all in between that I do not understand yet, but as I look at sentence translations I always notice that there is a different order to the Japanese sentences and if there’s a general guideline about this I definitely need some help :sweat_smile:


Japanese is less strict in its word order than, say, English, because where in English word order is what determines grammatical relationships between words, Japanese marks that with particles, allowing for much more variation without ambiguity. But there are still rules to word order. You’re right that it’s different from English, though!

I could type up a whole essay, but others have done that already so I don’t have to :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: Here’s what looks to be a decent one:

As for your example of “purple cat” or “cat purple”: modifiers (like adjectives) come before the word they modify. So like in English you’d end up with “purple cat” - since “cat purple” would imply “cat” is somehow a quality of “purple”.


It’s possible for Japanese adjectives to behave unexpectedly for English speakers in advanced sentences, but generally speaking they are fairly close to English order most of the time.


Yeah, when it comes to adjectives, Japanese uses them basically the same way that English does. However, for fun etymological reasons, “purple” is a noun in Japanese, so let me demonstrate with “blue” instead.

青い猫 = a blue cat
猫は青い = the cat is blue


Yay thank you for this answer! Referring to this will help me a lot as I move forward. I’m especially afraid of focusing too much on Kanji and vocab that I forget about grammar. I made a Bunpro account last night and I have the “All About Particles” book that I’ve been leafing through with many question marks in my head! I will also check out the link you provided!


HAHA purple is a noun? That’s almost as abstract as time itself!

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Purple is a noun in English too. It’s just in English the noun form of colors and the adjective form are identical. In Japanese they usually have different forms (since blue was mentioned before, we can compare あお noun blue and あおい adjective blue). In Japanese むらさき doesn’t have an adjective form that changes, but it still gets used in the same order we discussed before.



Ah okay! I will definitely be referring back to this thread for answers like these :slight_smile:

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Isnt one interpretation your sentence that you literally just used purple as a noun in an english sentence?


Yes I was under the impression he meant ONLY a noun… I am still very new!


Ah, ok. Welcome to japanese!



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