Japanese Language Blog

Building Japanese vocabulary – Opposite word Posted by on Apr 25, 2014 in Grammar

Learning opposite words is a great idea to build your vocabularies. I am sure everyone has done this when you were younger for your own native language.  Here are some opposite word exercise in Japanese.

1. Hot – Cold

熱い(あつい,atsui)- 冷たい (つめたい,tsumetai)

Sentence example:

I like drinking hot tea. (熱いお茶を飲むのが好きです。あついおちゃをのむのがすきです。)-Atsuiochawo nomunoga sukidesu.

I like eating cold noodles. (冷麺を食べるのが好きです。れいめんをたべるのがすきです。)ーReimen o taberunoga sukidesu.

Reimen = cold noodles.

2. Top – Bottom, Under

上(うえ,ue)- 下 (した,shita)

Sentence example:

Please put the cup on top of the table. (そのコップを机の上に置いてください。そのコップをつくえのうえにおいてください。)-Sono coppu o tsukueno ueni oite kudasai.

Please put the box under the table. (その箱を机の下に置いてください。そのはこをつくえのしたにおいてください。)-Sono hako o tsukueno shita ni oite kudasai.

3. Bright – Dark

明るい(あかるい,akarui)- 暗い (くらい,kurai)

Sentence example:

This room is bright. (この部屋は明るい。このへやはあかるい。)-Kono heya wa akarui

Basement is dark. (地下室は暗い。ちかしつはくらい。)-chikashitsu wa kurai.

4. Happy – Sad

嬉しい(うれしい,ureshii)- 悲しい (かなしい,kanashii)

Sentence example:

He is feeling happy. (彼は嬉しがっている。かれは、うれしがっている。)-Kare wa ureshigatte iru.

She is feeling sad . (彼女は悲しがっている。かのじょは、かなしがっている。)-kanojowa kanashi gatteiru.

5. Left – Right

左(ひだり,hidari)- 右(みぎ,migi)

Sentence example:

Please turn left at the corner. (角で左に曲がってください。かどでひだりにまがってください。)-Kado de hidari ni magatte kudasai.

I use my right hand to throw. (私は投げるのに右手を使います。わたしは、なげるのにみぎてをつかいます。)-Watashiwa nagerunoni migite wo tsukaimasu.

5. Long – Short

長い(ながい,nagai)- 短い, 低い(短い,mijikai、低い, hikui)

Sentence example:

This pencil is long. (この鉛筆は長いです。このえんぴつはながいです。) – Kono enputsuwa nagai desu.

He is short for his age. (彼は年の割には背が低いです。かれは、としのわりには せがひくいです。)-Karewa toshino wariniwa sega hikuidesu.

6. Big – Small

大きい(おおきい,ookii)- 小さい(ちいさい,chiisai)

Sentence example:

Elephants are big. (象は大きいです。ぞうはおおきいです。) – Zou wa ookii desu.

Bugs are small. (虫は小さいです。むしはちいさいです。) – Mushi wa chiisai desu.


If you are interested, you can even make a card for each word above and play some matching game to learn each word.  Often times, when you are learning new words, it is so much easier to learn by grouping them together, in this case by using opposite concept. Have fun learning! Remember if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.


  1. Baalzamonn:

    This is a great advice : learning words and kanji along with their opposites. I don’t do it as much as I should though 😉

    • keiko:

      @Baalzamonn Hi Baalzamonn,

      Thanks for your comments! There are so many ways to learn new words every day.Everyone has their own way of doing it. Through this blog, I am hoping that I will be able to share different ways of building vocabulary!