What is the difference between ōkii and ōki na?

Some Japanese i-adjectives, including ōkii (大きい) [big] and chiisai (小さい) [small] also have a na form, like ōki na inu (大きな犬) [a big dog] or chiisa na neko (小さな猫).

The na form of these adjectives can be used before a noun, as in ōki na inu (大きな犬), but not at the end of a sentence or phrase, where the form ōkii, like yume ga ōkii (夢が大きい) [have a big dream] must be used, or as adverbs, like ōkiku yume miru (大きく夢みる) [to think big] must be used.

According to several sources, the na forms of the adjectives tend to be used more with subjective and abstract notions like mondai (問題) [problem] or eikyō (影響) [influence], hence ōki na mondai (大きな問題) [a big problem], or ōki na eikyō (大きな影響) [a big influence], whereas ōkii is common with objective, tangible, and measurable things.[1]

Other adjectives which have a na form include okashii / okashina (おかしい/おかしな) [unusual, strange, funny], atatakai / atataka na (暖かい/暖かな) [warm], yawarakai / yawaraka na (やわらかい/やわらかな), and komakai / komaka na (細かい/細かな) [detailed].

References

  1. 大きい(おおきい)/大きな(おおきな)/でかい from 類語例解辞典 [Ruigo Reikai Jiten] at dictionary.goo.ne.jp

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