The difference between さ & み ( sa & mi) suffixes to make a noun

「かわいでは誰にも負けないわよ。」

= Kawaisa dewa darenimo makenai wayo.

= Nobody can beat my “cuteness”

 

 「このドラマ面白に欠けるよね。」

= Kono dorama omoshiromi ni kakeru yone.

= This drama lacks of interesting factor.

= This drama is kind of dull. 

 

Hi everyone!

I’m Fraggle, your guest teacher for today.

I applied to be a guest teacher almost a year ago.

待ちくたびれました。

= Machikutabiremashita.

= I am tired of waiting.

It’s about time I got to make a lesson here! 

Today we are going to study the difference between the nominalization suffix ( = sa) and ( = mi)

As you know, to “nominalize” something means to turn into a noun.

First, let me explain the function of ( = sa)

You can nominalize an adjective with the suffix   ( = sa)

i-adjective:

Ex. 軽い = かるい = karui = light (weight)

(nominalize) 軽さ = かるさ = karusa = lightness

So delete ( = i) and change it to  ( = sa)

Ex. かわいい  ( = kawaii) cute 

かわい  ( = kawaisa) cuteness 

Ex. 30歳になったらかわいだけではやっていけない。

= Sanjussai ni nattara kawaisa dakedewa yatte ikenai.

= Once you get to 30 years old, “cuteness” alone won’t work anymore. 

 na-adjecitve:

Ex. きれいな = kireina = beautiful, clean 

(nominalize) きれい = kireisa = beauty/ cleanness 

Ex. このうちのきれいは、うちと比べ物にならない。

= Kono uchi no kireisa wa, uchi to kurabemono ni naranai.

= (the cleanliness of this house is nothing compared to my house.)

= This house is so clean it can’t be compared to my house.

Note: There are two forms of nominalization of 静か = shizuka

* 静か= しずか= shizukasa = talking about how quiet it is (degree of the quietness) 

* 静け= しずけ= shizukesa = tranquility

(it came from an old adjective 静けし= shizukeshi) 

You can also add ( = sa) to the suffix such as らしい ( = rashii) / やすい ( = yasui ) / にくい ( = nikui) / づらい ( = zurai) / たい ( = tai)

Ex. らしい

= onna rashii

= feminine 

女らし

= Onna rashisa

= femininity

Ex. 私は、女らしではマギーにまさっている。

= Watashi wa onna rashisa dewa Maggie ni masatte iru.

= When it comes to femininity, I am better than Maggie.

Ex. 使いやすい

= tsukai yasui 

= easy to use

使いやす

= tsukai yasusa

= usability

Ex. 使いやすからこの携帯を選んだ。

= Tsukaiyasusa kara kono keitai wo eranda.

= I chose this cellphone by the user-friendliness. 

Ex. 会いたい

= aitai

= to want to see someone

会いた

= aitasa 

= eagerness to meet someone

Ex. 離れていると会いたが増す。

= Hanarete iru to aitasa ga masu.

= The farther I am from someone the more I want to meet them.

***

Another suffix used to nominalize adjectives is ( = mi)

This may give you a headache because the translations are the same as when さ ( = sa) is used, but the nuances of nominalized ( = sa) and  ( = mi) adjectives are different.

General difference:

They both indicate some condition or state of being but in general, 

 :n: ( = sa) is used for things that are measurable or when objectively indicating the degree of a state.

 :purple: ( = mi) is used to describe the state of something from a subjective point of view. (It sometimes involves a speaker’s feelings).

It expresses the clear nature of the state.

1)  Compared to ( = sa), the nouns that you can make with ( = mi) are more limited.

* 美しい =  utsukushii =  beautiful

美し = utsukushisa = beauty

You can’t say X 美し= = utsukumishi (wrong) 

* 大きい = ookii = big 

大き = ookisa = size 

X 大きみ = ookimi (wrong) 

*忙しい = isogashii = busy

忙し = isogashisa = busyness 

X 忙しみ = isogashimi (wrong) 

* きれい = kirei = clean/ beautiful

きれい = kireisa  = beauty 

X きれい = kireimi (wrong) 

* うれしい= ureshii = happy, joyful 

うれし= ureshisa = joy

X うれし= ureshimi (wrong) 

*~らしい= rashii 

らし= rashisa

X らし = rashimi (wrong) 

Verb + たい = tai

X Verb = tami (wrong) 

From the pictures above:

「かわいでは誰にも負けないわよ。」

= Kawaisa dewa darenimo makenai wayo.

= Nobody can beat my “cuteness”

*わよ = wayo is a suffix for a female speech

Note: かわい= kawaisa= cuteness

Of course, you can’t measure “cuteness” but I’m obviously “cute” and it is something visible.

(And you can’t say かわい =  kawaimi) 

2) You use ( = sa)  for something measurable (you see the degree of the state objectively)  and you use ( = mi) to express the nature/ characterization of the state more subjectively. 

深い = ふかい = fukai = deep

* 深さ = ふか = fukasa = depth (measurable) 

Ex. この池の深はどのぐらいですか?

= Kono ike no fukasa wa donogurai desu ka?

= How deep is this pond.

Ex. 1メートルです。

= Fukasa ichimeetoru desu.

= It’s 1 meter deep.

* = ふか = fukami = depth (unmeasurable) 

Ex. 木々の緑の深がましてきた。

= Kigi no midori no fukami ga mashite kita.

= The greenness of this tree has gotten darker.

重い = おもい= omoi = heavy (measurable) 

*   = おも= omosa = weight 

Ex. 機内に持ち込めるバッグの重と大きを教えてください。

= Kinai ni mochikomeru baggu no omosa to ookisa wo oshiete kudasai.

= Please tell me the weight and the size of the carry-on bags. 

*   = おも = omomi = importance, weight (unmeasurable) 

Ex. 家具の重で床がへこんだ。

= Kagu no omomi de yuka ga hekonda.

= The floor got dented by the weight of the furniture.

Ex. 父の言葉には重がある。

= Chichi no kotoba niwa omomi ga aru.

= My father’s words carry weight. 

Note: So ( = omosa) and    ( = omomi) are both “weight”. 

While ( = omosa) is something measurable,  ( = omomi) is more subjective and the nature of the state. 

You lift a thing, you feel the weigh, that is ( = omomi) 

厚い = あつい = atsui = thick 

*   = あつ = atsusa = thickness  (measurable) 

Ex. この食パン、厚2センチにスライスしてください。

= Kono shokuban, atsusa nisenchi ni suraisu shite kudasai.

= Please slice the loaf of the bread 1cm thick.

*   = あつ = atsumi = thickness, profoundness (unmeasurable/ There are exceptions.*) 

Ex. 彼は、人間としての厚が出てきたね。

= Kare wa, ningen toshite no atsumi ga dete kitane.

= He has grown as human being. (Literally: He has gotten thickness as a human being. )

Ex. のあるカーペット

= Atsumi no aru kaapetto. 

= Thick carpet

温かい = あたかい = atatakai = warm / kind

* 温か = あたたか = atatakasa = warmth (measurable) / how warm that person is

Ex. この温熱パックは40度の温かを15分ほど保ちます。

= Kono onnetsu pakku wa yonjuudo no atatakasa wo juugofun hodo tamochimasu.

= This heatpack will stay at a 40 degree temperature for 15 minutes.

* 温か = あたたか = atatakami = warmth  (unmeasurable) /  kindness (nature) 

Ex. 彼には心の温かがない。

= Kare niwa kokoro no atatakami ga nai.

= He has a cold heart.

Note: You can also say 心の温か ( = kokoro no atatakasa) when you describe how nice that person is (degree) 

高い = たかい = takai = height, expensive 

* = たか = takasa = height / expensiveness  (measurable) 

Ex. 背の高はどれぐらい?

= Se no takasa wa dore gurai?

= How tall are you?

Ex. 波の高により海で泳げない日があります。

= Nami no takasa ni yori umi de oyogenai hi ga arimasu.

= There are days that you can’t swim because the waves are too big.

* = たか = takami  = height (unmeasurable) 

Ex. を目指す

= Takami wo mezasu.

= to aim high

****

3) Now there are more subtle difference between them.

Some ~ さ ( = sa) words are not measurable either but indicate some degree of the state objectively 

The suffix ~ ( = mi) indicates quality/nature from one’s point of view subjectively.

From the picture above:

「このドラマ面白に欠けるよね。」

= Kono dorama omoshiromi ni kakeru yone.

= This drama lacks an interesting factor.

= This drama is kind of dull. 

*  面白 = omoshirosa = how interesting it is (degree)

* 面白 = omoshiromi = the quality of interestingness /something to attract people

強い = つよい = tsuyoi = strong

*   = つよ = tsuyosa = strength/how strong it is/you are

Ex. 一人で生きていける強が欲しい。

= Hitori de ikite ikeru tsuyosa ga hoshii.

= I’d like the strength to live on my own.

*   = つよ = tsuyomi= strength, forte, strong point

Ex. うちのチームの強はチームワークのよだ。

= Uchi no chiimu no tsuyomi wa chiimu waakuk no yosa da.

= Our teams’ strength is out teamwork.

弱い = よわい = yowai = weak

*   = よわ = yowasa = weakness/how weak it is/you are

Ex. 自分達が試合に負けたのは体力の弱よりも精神力の弱が原因だった。

= Jibun tachi ga shiai ni maketa no wa tairyoku no yowasa yori mo seishinryoku no yowasa ga gen’in datta.

= The reason why we lost the game was not due to physical weakness but to mental weakness. 

*   = よわ = yowami = soft spot, weak point, vulnerable point 

Ex. 人に弱を見せたくない。

= Hito ni yowami wo misetaku nai.

= I don’t want to show my weakness to others. 

ありがたい = arigatai = gracious

* ありがた  = arigatasa = graciousness, preciousness/ how grateful you are

Ex. これからの世代に平和のありがたを伝えていかなくてはいけない。

= Kore kara no sedai ni heiwa no arigatasa wo tsutaete ikanakute wa ikenai.

= We have to pass on the preciousness of peace to our future generations. 

* ありがた = arigatami = value, worth

Ex. 遠く離れてみて初めて親のありがたを感じる

= Tooku hanarete mite hajimete oya no arigatami wo kanjiru.

= I appreciated the existence of my parents for the first time when I moved far from them. 

Ex. 若い頃はお金のありがたがあまりわからかった。

= Wakai koro wa okane no arigatami ga amari wakaranakatta.

= When I was young, I didn’t appreciate money so much.

******

4) ( = mi) was originally written with the kanji ( =

You still use the kanji ( = when you talk about the taste and color. 

!chocolate! Tastes: 

甘い = あまい = amai = sweet, too optimistic 

甘さ = あま = amasa = sweetness, leniency, weakness, lacking something

Ex. 自分の甘を克服したい。

= Jibun no amasa wo kokufuku shitai.

= I’d like to overcome my weakness.

Ex. 砂糖をかけない方が果物本来の甘が味わえる。

= Satou wo kakenai hou ga kudamono honrai no amasa ga ajiwaeru

= You can taste the true sweetness of fruit without sugar.

→  / = あま = amami = sweetness  (You only use it for the taste)

Ex. この苺は甘/甘が強い。

= Kono ichigo wa amami ga tsuyoi.

= This strawberry is very sweet. 

* 辛い = からい = karai = spicy, hot, strict 

 = から= karasa = how hot it is

 /   = から= karami = hot taste, pungency

* うまい/ 旨い = umai = delicious 

うま= umasa = how delicious it is 

うま = umami = savory taste

酸っぱい = すっぱい = suppai = sour  

酸っぱ = すっぱ= suppasa = how sour it is

酸っぱ/酸っぱ = すっぱ = suppami = sour taste 

* 苦い = にがい = nigai = bitter

苦さ = にが = nigasa = bitterness / how bitter it is 

/苦 = にが = nigami = bitterness, bitter taste 

 !MEMO! Colors: 

*赤い =あかい=  akai = red

/ =あか =  akami = reddisness

*青い = あおい = aoi = blue

/  =あお=  aomi = blueness 

There are specific expressions with color + ( = mi) 

Ex. み (青)がかった

= aomi gakatta

= bluish 

Ex. (赤)を帯びた

= akami wo obita

= reddish 

*****

5) You can attach ( = mi) suffix to certain verbs.

痛い = itai = painful (adjective) 

→* 痛さ = いた= itasa  (degree of the pain/how much pain you have) 

Ex. あまりの痛に思わず声を上げた。

= Amari no itasa ni omowazu koe wo ageta.

= I couldn’t help raising my voice with that pain.

痛む =いたむ  =  itamu = to ache  (verb)

→* = いた = itami (the concept of pain itself )  

Ex. 腕に軽い痛があります。

= Ude ni karui itami ga arimasu.

= There is a slight pain in my arm.

Ex. 止めを飲んでください。

= Itamidome wo nonde kudasai.

= Please take a painkiller.

楽しい = たのしい = tanoshii = fun, amusing, pleasant (adjective) 

→*  楽し = たのし = tanoshisa = amusement, pleasantness 

Ex. 多くの人々に山に登る楽しを味わってほしい。

= Ooku no hitobito ni yama ni noboru tanoshisa wo ajiwatte hoshii.

= I want many people to enjoy climbing mountains. 

楽しむ = たのしむ = tanoshimu = to enjoy (verb) 

→*  楽し = たのし = tanoshimi = pleasure 

Ex. 来週のデートが楽しだ。

= Raishuu no deeto ga tanoshimi ta.

= I am looking forward to the date next week.

悲しい = かなしい = kanashii = sad (adjective) 

→*  悲し = かなし = kanashisa = sadness / how sad you are (degree) 

Ex. 日本を発つときの悲しといったらなかった。

= Nihon wo tatsu toki no kanashisa to ittara nakatta.

= I can’t describe how sad I was when I left Japan.

悲しむ = kanashimu = to feel sad (verb)

→*  悲し = かなし = kanashimi = sadness, sorrow 

Ex. 彼は、深い悲しを乗り越えてこの作品を作り上げた。

= Kare wa, fukai kanashimi wo norikoete kono sakuhin wo tsukuriageta.

= Overcoming his deep sorrow, he finished up this work.

親しい = したしい = shitashii = close, intimate  (adjective) 

→* 親し = したし = shitashisa = closeness, intimacy / how much you are close to someone

Ex.「さん」で呼ぶか「ちゃん」で呼ぶかはその人との親しによって決めます。

= “san” de yobu ka “chan” de yobuka wa sono hito tono shitashisa ni yotte kimemasu.

= We decide whether we call a person either with “san” or “chan” by how close we are to that person. 

親しむ = したしむ = shitashimu  = to get familiar with ~ (verb) 

→* 親し = したしみ = shitashimi = friendliness, endearing, feeling of closeness

Ex. 小さい頃からアニメを観ていたので日本に親しを感じています。

= Chiisai koro kara anime wo miteita node nihon ni shitashime wo kanjiteimasu.

=  Because I have been watching anime since childhood, I feel close to Japan.

= I feel very close to Japan since I have been watching anime since I was a child. 

Ex. マギーは親しやすい性格だ。

= Maggie wa shitashimiayasu seikaku da.

= Maggie has a friendly personality.

苦しい = くるしい = kurushii = suffering, pain (adjective) 

→* 苦し = くるし = kurushisa = pain, hardship / talk about how much you suffer 

Ex. 経済的な苦しに耐えられない人々を救いたい。

= Keizaitekina kurushisa ni taerarenai hitobito wo sukuitai. 

= I’d like to save the people who can’t bear the economic hardship.

苦しむ = くるしむ = kurushimu = to suffer (verb) 

→* 苦し = くるしみ = kurushimi = agony, suffering / nature of suffering 

Ex. 悲しも苦しもすべて水に流そう。

= Kanashimi mo kurushimi mo subete mizu ni nagasou.

= Let’s make all the sorrow and agony water under the bridge. 

*****

マギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori = From Maggie Sensei

フラグル先生ありがとう!

= Fraggle Sensei arigatou!

= Thank you, Fraggle Sensei.

かわいでは私といい勝負かも。

= “Kawaisa” dewa watashi to iishoubu kamo.

= When it comes to “cuteness” you could be a good match for me.

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11 Comments

  1. こんにちは先生。

    Thank you again for another lesson! Since finishing みんなの日本語上級1+2, this side became so incredibly useful to me. All the example sentences alone are priceless. Thank you so much!!!

    I have a question. I noticed that the lyrics of the original キャプテン翼 theme, also includes a さsuffix. But I dont understand why.
    (そんときおれがスーパーヒーローさ.)

    Why ist there a さ used?

    1. @Pascal

      こんにちは、Pascal! わあ、上級の2も終わりましたか?
      すごいですね!
      There are various usages of さ suffix but that one is for a casual male speech. It is like “なんだよ”
      Basic patterns:
      noun + さ  スーパーヒーローさ。
      verb + さ  明日行くのさ。

  2. 「み」と「さ」の違いの曖昧さのせいか、なんだか難解なところはあったけど、とても役に立つレッスンでしたね!またありがとう、マギー先生!!

    1. @らわ

      お役に立てばうれしいです。
      一つの解釈では違いがわからないことが多いのでそれぞれの言葉で違いがわかるようになるといいですね。

  3. I’m still confused…
    But thank you very much for your explanation. Maybe by time, i’ll figure it out.. Sooner or later….
    ありがとうございました

    1. @Sandra

      Sorry to hear you are still confused. I hope you get everything clear one day.

      ******
      I deleted my previous comment once to add some information.

      お茶を飲みながら楽しみで日本語会話をしましょう
      there’s nothing wrong by putting tanoshimi de in the above sentence if you want to, yet, once again, it will be not natural in nihongo, they said

      → I would say it is wrong.

      ***
      楽しんで is translated “with fun”, but actually 楽しむ is a verb and its te-form is 楽しんで

      I think you are familiar with this pattern.

      Vて (or で)+ do something
      = to do something V-ing. (describing how you do something)

      楽しんでテニスをする to play tennis *having fun
      楽しんで勉強する to study *having fun
      楽しんで日本語で会話する to talk in Japanese *having fun

      *it can be translated as “with fun”.

      **
      楽しみで+do something

      means, “to do something for one’s pleasure”

      You wanted to say “Let’s talk in Japanese having fun (→with fun) “ not “ for your pleasure”

      Also as I said in the lesson, 〜み expresses one’s subjective feelings, so you don’t use

      ~みで〜しましょう!pattern.

      I know it may sound complicated but once you know the rules, it shouldn’t be so difficult.

  4. hi, i have a question that’s confusing me from yesterday morning.

    I wrote:
    Sumimasen…. Mata kikitai 😁

    I wrote お茶を飲みながら楽しみで日本語会話をしましょう
    Let’s make conversation with fun while having a tea

    And it’s incorrect, my friend said.
    The correct one, he said:
    お茶を飲みながら楽しんで日本語会話をしましょう

    Why?
    How do you translate the above sentence using tanoshimi de?

    Actually i already asked 15 people on facebook about this problem. Since yesterday morning till now.
    7 nihonjin, 3 indonesiajin, 5 japanese community on fb.
    Still i don’t get the red line. Indeed, some nihonjin said that tanoshimi de has a nuance more to interest or hobby or for fun or for pleasure. Sort of. That’s why it’s not natural in nihongo, they said.
    But there’s nothing wrong by putting tanoshimi de in the above sentence if you want to, yet, once again, it will be not natural in nihongo, they said
    Okay… At first i get the point why it sounds not natural if i use tanoshimi de in the sentence, because it would mean:
    Let’s have a conversation for pleasure or for fun while having tea
    But then after an hour, i changed my mind. It seems like There’s nothing wrong by saying let’s have a conversation for fun or for pleasure.
    Right?
    Or you have another translation or extra explanation (you will be the 16th person :D) that can make me
    “Aha!! That’s the keyword for tanoshimi de”
    “Aha!! That’s why it’s not natural!”

    1. Ah, one more….
      Do you have a fb messenger? Or an email?
      I have to rethink 1000 times to post a question on your fb post.
      I’m just scared that if i posted it, it’ll offend my nihonjin friends for asking the same question to you.

      1. @Sandra

        No, I am not using FB messenger anymore. I once activated and got too many questions.
        Don’t worry about your Japanese friends. You don’t have to use the same name here and also I doubt your friends will come to this site. 😉

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