Wednesday, January 9, 2019

-yasui ~やすい, 安い, 易い

In Japanese, -yasui ~やすい is an auxiliary adjective that means something is "easy" to do or to happen. It's also a normal i-adjective that means "easy," yasui 易い. When the word is written with a different kanji, yasui 安い, it means something is "cheap" or "calm."

Auxiliary Adjective


The auxiliary adjective -yasui ~やすい is used after the masu stem of a verb, also called the "connective form," ren'youkei 連用形. For example:
  • suru する
    To do.
  • shimasu します
    To do. (polite form.)
  • shi
    Doing. (noun.)
    • shiyasuiやすい
      Doing is easy.
      Easy to do.

    Since yasui is an auxiliary adjective, it turns the verb into an adjective. This means that nouns that would become objects in sentences (marked by wo を) can become subjects instead (marked by ga が). For example:
    • shigoto 仕事
      Work. (noun.)
    • shigoto wo suru 仕事をする
      To do the work. (the work is the object.)
    • shigoto ga suru 仕事がする
      The work does. (this doesn't make sense.)
    • shigoto ga shiyasui 仕事がしやすい
      The work is easy to do. (predicative adjective.)
      shiyasui shigoto しやすい仕事
      Work [that] is easy to do. (attributive adjective.)

    Also, since it turns the verb into an adjective, the English translation may become a single adjective instead of a whole phrase. For example:
    • tokeru 溶ける
      To dissolve.
    • tokeyasui 溶けやすい
      Easy to dissolve.
      That dissolves easily.


    Since yasui is an i-adjective, it can be conjugated like one to mean something "was easy," "is not easy," "was not easy," and so on.
    • -yasui ~やすい
      Easy [to do].
    • -yasukatta ~やすかった
      Was easy [to do].
    • -yasukunai ~やすくない
      Not easy [to do].
    • -yasukunakatta ~やすくなかった
      Was not easy [to do].

    See the Conjugation of i-Adjective for details.

    Easy to Do vs. Easy to Happen

    Literally, yasui やすい means "easy." But it can mean something, an action, is easy to do, or it can mean it's easy to happen. The latter ends up meaning something is likely to happen, that it has a tendency to happen, because things that are easy to happen tend to happen.
    • wasureyasui 忘れやすい
      Forgetting is easy to do.
      Forgetting is easy to happen.
      Forgetting tends to happen.
    • watashi wa wasureyasui 私は忘れやすい
      "As for me, forgetting is easy to do."
      It's easy for me to forget things.
      I tend to forget things.
    • tanjoubi wa wasureyasui 誕生日は忘れやすい
      "As for birthdays, forgetting is easy to do."
      It's easy to forget birthdays.
      People tend to forget birthdays.
    • kyoumi ga aru koto wa oboeyasuku
      kyoumi ga nai koto wa wasureyasui

      [While] things [you] have interest are easy to remember,
      things [you have] no interest are easy to forget.
      • kyoumi... koto 興味…こと
      • The nominalizer koto is being modified by a relative clause here.
      • See nai ない for how nai and aru work.

    There's no way to tell these two meanings aside from the context. But it's really not that hard to guess which is it. For example:
    • tabeyasui 食べやすい
      Eating is easy to do.
      Eating is easy to happen. (wrong!)

    A hint is that transitive verbs tend to be easy to do, while intransitive verbs tend to be easy to happen.

    This comes from the fact that when you're talking about a certain thing, a transitive verb implies your ability to do something with it: it's easy to do X with this, whereas an intransitive verb implies the how easy that verb can spontaneously happen: it's easy for X to do this.
    • kowasu 壊す
      To break [something.] (transitive.)
    • kowareru 壊れる
      To break. (intransitive.)
    • kowashiyasui 壊しやすい
      Easy to break [something].
      This thing looks like I, or someone else, could break it easily.
    • kowareyasui 壊れやすい
      Easy to break. (itself.)
      This thing looks like it breaks easily, that is, it could break anytime now, for any reason. Totally unreliable!


    Besides being an auxiliary adjective, yasui やすい, or rather, yasui 易い, is also a normal i-adjective that means something is "easy."
    • anzuru yori umu ga yasushi 案ずるより産むが易し
      anzuru yori umu ga yasui 案ずるより産むが易い
      Compared to worrying, producing is easy.
      Producing is easier than worrying.
      • Idiom about not thinking too much about it and just... do it!

    Note that yasui isn't normally used as a stand-alone adjective for "easy" like in the phrase above. It's normally used as an auxiliary adjective instead.

    Tayasui たやすい【容易い】

    The word tayasui たやすい, also written tayasui 容易い, means something is really "easy" "or "simple" to do. It's often used to mean something was done, or can be done, with more ease than one would imagine.
    • shisha wo yomigaeraseru nante tayasui koto 死者を蘇らせるなんて容易いこと
      Something like reviving the deceased is a simple thing to do.
      • It's a walk in the park.
      • Anyone can do it.
      • I could do it with my eyes closed.
    • tayasuku kaiketsu suru 容易く解決する
      To solve it simply.
      To solve it easily.
      To solve it effortlessly, without any trouble.

    Often, however, tayasui 容易い is used in its negative inflection to say something is not as easy as one would imagine.
    • tomodachi wo tsukuru no wa tayasui koto janai 友達を作るのはたやすいことじゃない
      To make friends is not a simple thing to do.

    Note that tayasui can be written with kanji as tayasui 容易い because it's an ateji 当て字. Specifically, 容 isn't normally read as ta. It seems that there was the word youi 容易, which also means "easy," and since tayasui matched the "easy" meaning it became written like that.


    When yasui is written as yasui 安い it doesn't mean "easy" but something else.


    Usually, yasui 安い means something is "cheap," either because it's on discount, or is a good deal, or because it's worthless, not as good as a well-made product.
    • yasui fuku 安い服
      Cheap clothes.
    • yasukute kawaii fuku 安くて可愛い服
      Cheap [and] cute clothes.
      Clothes that are cheap and also cute.
    • yasuku katta 安く買った
      Bought for cheap.
      Bought cheaply.

    It can also mean the cost of doing something was cheap, rather than the price of a product.

    腕が!!! 安いもんだ腕の一本くらい…無事でよかった ………う………………!!うう………!! quote from manga One Piece
    Manga: One Piece, Wan Piisu ワンピース (chapter 1)
    • Context: Shanks sacrifices his arm to save Luffy. (this is literally the first chapter.)
    • ude ga!!!
      [Your] arm [is gone]!!!
      • Implicit verb: we have the subject marker ga が explicit but the sentence has no explicit verb.
    • yasui mon da
      [It's a] cheap [price to pay]
      • mon もん
        mono もの
        "Thing." This is a nominalizer: it's qualified by an adjective, but doesn't mean much by itself.
    • ude no ippon kurai...
      [Something] as much as one arm...
      • ippon 一本
        One cylindrical object. (e.g. one arm. This is a counter.)
    • buji de yokatta
      That [you] are unharmed was a good [outcome.]
      [I'm glad you aren't hurt.]
    • .........u...
      *sobbing piratically*

    In this case, yasui is sometimes written as yasui 廉い instead.


    The word yasui 安い can also mean something is "calm" or "quiet." This is in the same sense as anshin 安心 means "relief" or "peace of mind."
    • kokoroyasui 心安い
      It's a relief.
      (also refers to someone who's "carefree," "friendly.")

    Apparently, it's from this "calm" meaning that the "cheap" meaning came from: something that's expensive makes people nervous, but something that's cheap is more calming.


    The word yasuraka 安らか, clearly related, means "tranquil" or "peaceful." It's a na-adjective, often taking the form of yasurakana 安らかな.
    • yasurakana nemuri 安らかな眠り
      Peaceful sleep. Tranquil sleep.
    • yasurakana shi 安らかな死
      Peaceful death.


    Since yasui has multiple meanings, yasui has multiple antonyms too.

    The antonym of the auxiliary adjective -yasui would be:

    It works exactly the same way, for example:
    • shinikui しにくい
      Hard to do.
    • tabenikui 食べにくい
      Hard to eat.
    • kowarenikui 壊れにくい
      Hard to break. Unlikely to break.

    For the normal adjective meanings, the antonyms would be:
    • muzukashii 難しい
      Difficult. Hard.
    • takai 高い
      • This word also means "high," which is the antonym of "low" instead.

    "Easy" in Japanese

    Although yasui 易い means "easy," "easy" doesn't always mean yasui. That is, some stuff we'd call "easy" in English aren't called yasui in Japanese.

    Easy Game Difficulty

    When talking about the "level of difficulty," nan'ido 難易度, of a game, Japanese games generally use the following words:
    1. yasashii 易しい
      Easy. (easy mode.)
    2. futsuu 普通
    3. muzukashii 難しい
      Difficult. (hard mode.)

    Note: yasashii 優しい means "gentle," but when it's written as yasashii 易しい it means "easy" instead. Sometimes, this yasashii is written without kanji instead: yasashii やさしい.

    Sometimes they use katakanizations or English words instead.
    1. iijii イージー
    2. noomaru ノーマル
    3. haado ハード

    Note that, when you play the easy mode of a game, it becomes:
    • kuria shi-yasui クリアしやすい
      Easy to clear.
      • kuria suru クリアする
        To clear (a game.) To finish, complete, beat a game.
      • In some games, finishing a stage gives you a "stage clear" message. So finishing the whole game gets you "game clear."

    Easy Woman

    Some idioms also don't match Japanese exactly. For example, an "easy woman" in English refers to sexually promiscuous woman, i.e. "easy to sleep with."[an easy man / an easy woman. -, 2019-01-08]

    In Japanese, the term yasui onna 安い女 actually has the same meaning. However, because of how it's written, it literally means "cheap woman" rather than "easy woman," as in, it doesn't cost much to get. There's also terms like karui onna 軽い女, "light woman," i.e. loose woman, that one might translate as "easy woman" even though it's not literally the same thing.


    For reference, some more examples:
    • yomiyasui 読みやすい
      Easy to read.
      • yomu 読む
        To read.
    • nomiyasui 飲みやすい
      Easy to drink. (e.g. pills.)
      • nomu 飲む
        To drink.
    • kawariyasui 変わりやすい
      Easy to change.
      (e.g. fickle weather.)
      • kawaru 変わる
        To change. (intransitive.)
    • akiyasui 飽きやすい
      Easy to become bored with.
      Easily bored.
      • akiru 飽きる
        To get bored of.
    • kanjiyasui 感じやすい
      Easy to feel.
      Sensitive. Susceptible. Impressionable​.
      • kanjiru 感じる
        To feel.
    • kizutsukiyasui 傷つきやすい
      Easy to hurt.
      • kizutsuku 傷つく
        To hurt.
        To attach an injury. (literally.)
    • damasareyasui 騙されやすい
      Easy to be tricked.
      Gullible. Naive.
      • damasareru 騙される
        To be fooled. To be tricked.
        (passive form of...)
      • damasu 騙す
        To fool. To trick.
    • tsukaiyasui 使いやすい
      Easy to use.
      • tsukau 使う
        To use.
    • atsukaiyasui 扱いやすい
      Easy to handle.
      • atsukau 扱う
        To handle.
    • tsukareyasui 疲れやすい
      Easy to get tired.
      Gets tired easily.
      • tsukareru 疲れる
        To get tired.


    • wakariyasui 分かりやすい
      Easy to understand.
      • wakaru 分かる
        To understand.
    • wakariyasuku setsumei shite kudasai 分かりやすく説明してください
      Please explain [it] [in a way that is] easy to understand.

      Note: the phrase wakariyasui is sometimes used in anime to say someone is "easy to read." Like when they have a crush on someone and another characters asks them about it and they become red as a pepper saying "n-no! I don't have a crush on him! Of course not!! b-baka!" That's wakariyasui.


      • kiyasui 気安い
        Relaxed. Familiar. Friendly.
      • kiyasuku hanashikakenaide 気安く話しかけないで
        Don't talk [to me] familiarly.
        (i.e. don't talk to me like you know me, don't talk to me unless it's something important, etc.)

      Further Reading


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