Wild Nihongo!
おおい / おおぜい / たくさん

おおい / おおぜい / たくさん

おおい / おおぜい / たくさん Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: い-Adjective

Essential Meaning: Many / A lot of / Much

Construction: い-Adjective


  • おおい (おおい in kanji) is an い-Adjective that indicates that there is a large number or quantity of some thing. It is analogous to to the English adjectives “Many” or “Much“. One important note is that, unlike other い-Adjectives, おおい can not be used directly before the noun it modifies. Instead, it must be used as the predicate of a clause.
    • E.g. ねこおおい。[There are many cats.] In this example, ねこ is the subject (marked by), and おおい is the predicate.
  • If おおい is used as the predicate of a relative clause, おおい may appear directly before a noun (but not before the noun that it modifies). One exceptional structure to note is おおくの, which is primarily used in formal written Japanese to directly modify nouns.
    • E.g. てらおおまち京都きょうとです。[The town that has a lot of temples is Kyoto.] In this example, おおい directly precedes the noun まち, but おおい actually modifies the word おてら as the predicate of the relative clause “おてらおおい”.
    • E.g. おおくの学生がくせい毎年まいとしアジアから日本にほん大学だいがくにくる。[Every year, a large number of students come to Japanese universities from across Asia.] Note that in this example おおくの directly precedes the noun that it modifies (i.e. 学生がくせい).
  • おおぜい (大勢おおぜい in kanji) means “A large crowd of people” or “In great numbers“. It is very similar to おおい, but it can only be used when referring to human beings. おおい and おおくの can be replaced by 大勢おおぜいいる and 大勢おおぜいの respectively.
    • E.g. この部屋へやには学生がくせい大勢おおぜいいる。[In this room, there are many students.]
    • E.g. この部屋へやには大勢おおぜい学生がくせいがいる。[In this room, there are many students.]
  • 大勢おおぜい can be used on its own adverbially, but おおい can not.
    • E.g. 学生がくせい大勢おおぜいきた。[The students came in droves.]
    • E.g. *学生がくせいおおくきた。[The students came in droves.] おおい can not be used adverbially.
  • たくさん [Many] is another common word that is similar in meaning to おおい. The adjective forms おおい and おおくの can be replaced by たくさんある/いる and たくさんの, respectively. たくさん can also be used by itself adverbially.
    • E.g. Adjectival たくさん: この部屋へやには学生がくせいがたくんいる。[In this room, there are many students.]
    • E.g. Adverbial たくさん: 今年ことしはたくさんゆきった。[This year, a lot of snow fell.]
    • E.g. Adjectival たくさん: この部屋へやにはつくえがたくさんある。[In this room, there are many desks.]
  • The adverbial form おおく may be used as a noun in position B of the structure AのB. This creates a noun phrase meaning “The majority of A”. 大勢 おおぜい and たくさん can not be used as nouns in this way.
    • E.g. 学生がくせいおおくはおとこだ。[The majority of students are male.]
    • E.g. *学生がくせい大勢おおぜいおとこだ。[The majority of students are male.]
    • E.g. *学生がくせいのたくさんはおとこだ。[The majority of students are male.]
  • すくない [Few] is the antonym of おおい. Unlike おおい, すくない can not be used as a noun (i.e. のおおく) or as a direct noun modifier (i.e. おおくの).
    • E.g. このまちくるますくない。[In this town, there are few cars.]
    • E.g. 日本語にほんご新聞しんぶんめる学生がくせいすくない。[There are few students who can read Japanese newspapers.]

Example Sentences:

日本にほんには大学だいがくおおい。[There are many universities in Japan.]

京都きょうとにはおてらおおいです。[There are many temples in Kyoto.]

ロスさんの作文さくぶんちがいがおおいです。[Ross’s composition has many mistakes.]

一月いちがつゆきおおい。[There is a lot of snow in January.]

WILD Examples:

At 1:00, you listen for this line: まわれば大勢おおぜいのかわいいいいちがいるんだもん。[If you look around you, there are many cute, good kids.]

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