N4 Grammar | Using さ & み to Turn Adjectives into Nouns

Knowing how to turn adjectives into nouns by using さ and み is a great way to easily increase your vocabulary while only memorising one new conjugation.

This conjugation is called nominalising, and it gives us more flexibility when speaking or writing.

Without nominalisation, adjectives would normally be stuck only modifying nouns.

After they are formed into nouns, they can be the subject, topic, or object of the sentence, or take all kinds of prepositions like in, on, at, with, by, to, etc.

Using さ & み | い and な Adjectives

Using さ & み | Usages of さ

Using さ & み | Usages of み

Using さ & み | FAQ’s

Turning Adjectives into Nouns in Japanese
Turning Japanese Adjectives into Nouns

Turning Adjectives Into Nouns | Using さ for い & な Adjectives

い Adjectives Use さ

Forming adjectives into nouns is very simple for い adjectives:

Remove the い and add instead.

~い ≫ ~ ≫ +さ

Example:

AdjectiveRemove い and add さNoun
高い + さ高さ
たかいたか + さたかさ
takaitakai + satakasa
Tall>>Height

Now that 高い has been nominalised into 高さ, it can be used like a noun in any number of situations.

For example, it can now take the particle を.

高さ比べるtakasa wo kuraberuCompare height

な Adjectives Use さ

Use the stem form of the word (without な), and add さ.

Example:

AdjectiveAdd さNoun
便利便利 + さ便利さ
べんりべんり + さべんりさ
benribenri + sabenrisa
Convenient>>Convenience

Turning Adjectives Into Nouns | More Usages of さ

さ is not strictly limited to adjectives.

It can also modify word suffixes that behave like い adjectives, like:

Examples:

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
女らしさおんならしさonnarashisaFemininity
女らしいおんならしいonnarashiiFeminine
子どもっぽいこどもっぽいkodomoppoiChildish
子どもっぽさこどもっぽさkodomopposaChildishness

Nominalising adjectives with さ is like adding -ness to a word in English.

It refers to the degree of the adjective that something possesses.

For this reason, さ has a nuance of certainty. It implies that the adjective is certainly present. The word “redness” for instance, implies that some degree of red exists.

Turning Adjectives Into Nouns | Usages of み

Another way to nominalize is to add み to the end of adjectives.

It is conjugated in the same way that さ is, but instead of adding さ, we add み.

Example:

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
痛いいたいitaiPainful
痛みいたみitamiPain

There are differences between さ and み.

While さ refers to quantity, み refers more to quality, and gives the impression of a personal experience of the adjective.

“み refers more to quality”

Let us continue to examine the adjective 痛い.

Here is a breakdown of the different conjugations and their respective translations:

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
痛いいたitaiPainful
痛さいたさitasaDegree of pain
痛みいたみitamiThe feeling/experience of pain

Let’s now examine the adjective 重い:

KanjiHiraganaRomajiEnglish
重いおもいomoiHeavy
重さおもさomosaHeaviness, weight of an object
重みおもみomomiImportance, weight of a thought

Here you go! You can now turn adjectives into nouns by using さ and み.

Make sure you check the other lessons of N4 Level:

And the most important grammar lessons:

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USING さ & み || FAQs

How to turn い adjectives into nouns?

Turning adjectives into nouns is very simple for い adjectives:

Remove the い and add  instead.

Example: 高い (Tall) becomes 高さ (Height)

How to turn な adjectives into nouns?

Use the stem form of the word (without な), and add さ.

Example: 便利 (Convenient) becomes 便利さ (Convenience)

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How to use さ?

さ is used to turn な adjectives into nouns, but can also modify word suffixes that behave like い adjectives, like:

~たい

~やすい

~にくい

~づらい

~らしい

and ~っぽい.

Example:

女らしさ (Femininity) becomes 女らしい (Feminine)

子どもっぽい (Childish) becomes 子どもっぽさ (Childishness)

How to use み?

Adding み at the end of an adjective also nominalise it.

It is conjugated in the same way that さ is, but instead of adding さ, we add み.

There are differences between さ and み.

さ can be applied to any い adjective,

while み is used on a more limited number of adjectives.

While さ refers to quantity, み refers more to quality, and gives the impression of a personal experience of the adjective.

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