How do you distinguish 仲良し and 仲良く?

Basically the title. I cannot, for the life of me figure out how to distinguish the meanings of these two words, I always mix up which is “friendly” and which is “good friends”. Does anyone have helpful tips/mnemonics? Thanks in advance!


I just learned these and they might come back to haunt me, but I think the く ending is for adverbs, right? I just think of Yoshi from Mario… they’re good friends, but they don’t act friendly.


A lot of adverbs end in く, so if you see the く and it’s not likely to be a verb, think like the English suffix “-ly”. So, 仲良く, not being a verb, would be like “friend-good-ly” or, more English-y, “good-friend-ly”, which is just “friend-ly”. The item information (which you can check after answering each review, or look it up separately with the website’s search feature) usually includes the word type, and 仲良く is indeed an adverb.

For 仲良し, one way to remind yourself is that 良, meaning ‘good’, is often used when the typical word for ‘good’ – which is いい – would not quite work. Often because, at least I imagine it’s because, the surrounding words might already have lots of vowels nearby; other times because いい is more recent, and in more-traditional phrases the older variant よい is more-usual. And よい is usually accompanied by or written with the kanji 良 (unlike いい which is almost exclusively in kana, I believe).

Also, often, -い adjectives (or, perhaps more precisely, their root words) have other endings for slightly different purposes. An example already is よく (which wouldn’t work as いく, since that already means ‘to go’ and probably other things, too). Other examples (found on are よき [良き] (goodness), よさ [良さ] (merit), and よし [which, apparently, doesn’t actually usually use kanji when used on its own, but I’m just guessing based on the Jisho entry], which means ‘alright’ or ‘OK’, which I believe is often said parent-to-child like “よしよし”, meaning something like “good boy/girl” (or maybe more accurately meaning like “there, there”), literally like “good-good”.

Anyway, if you’ve ever played any of the Mario games, you may know of the character Yoshi, the little speedy dinosaur-like character. Mnemonic: “Yoshi-yoshi, Yoshi! You’re a good boy!”

So, with that common word in mind, 仲良し must mean “friend-good”, or, more English-y, “good-friend”.

But anyway, @Timecopper beat me to it by 30 minutes! So, there ya go! :sweat_smile:


One is a noun, the other is an adverb.

仲良く = in a way/manner of 仲良し

Note also that they are compounds of 仲 and 良く/良し

良い = good (adjective),eg これは良い, this is good.
良く= well (adverb), eg これを良くする, I will do this well.
良し = good (noun)


Thanks everyone for your responses, adverbs frequently ending with -く is something I’ve never noticed before :sweat_smile:


I’m not 100% sure, but I believe the -く ending is often the result of modifying an -い adjective to become an adverb form. In other words, there’s a kind of ‘typical’ connection between い and く, in this case い→く for ‘adverb-izing’ an い adjective. A very common example is when adverbizing the common negative-adjectival word/ending ない or -ない, e.g. commonly done for the purposes of converting to adverbial/adjectival -て form like ではない [では無い] into ではなくて [では無くて], or in informal speech じゃない [じゃ無い ] into じゃなくて [じゃ無くて ]. (This same adverbizing occurs frequently, not just with -て forms.)

There’s another ‘typical’ connection between い and く, this time in the reverse direction, く→い when turning a go-dan verb ending in く to its -て form. E.g. あるく [歩く] to あるいて [歩いて]. I don’t know if this ‘reverse’ connection between い and く has anything to do with the ‘forward’ connection (I suspect it doesn’t and is just some sort of coincidence, but I could be wrong), but I find it a useful ‘pattern-matching clue’ sometimes, anyway, even if they’re not really related.

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Grammatically no, but phonetically yes.
Actually in classical Japanese adjectives ended in く with き being the renyoukei (the form used in front of a noun).
Then the same き → い phonetic change as in verbs happened (and that form also replaced く as the final/dictionary form).

(I don’t remember the details, and I may have told some incorrect things)

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Grammatically speaking, this is how it works, yes. If you want to turn an い-adjective into an adverb, you change the い to く.

There’s a “phrase” い-adjective 仲がいい, so I suspect 仲良く is simply the adverbial version of that.

For 仲良し, it can help to know that し is the classical conjugation for い-adjectives for the end of a sentence/clause (e.g. 長し日 would be wrong, but 日が長し would be fine). Though 仲良し is almost like a set phrase at this point, so its meaning may have diverged from the literal grammatical usage a bit.


For me is very easy. Who is a good friend?
し is

By default, くis just friendly Lol