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

Usage

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.)
  • shi-yasui
    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 shi-yasui
    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.
  • toke-yasui
    溶けやすい
    Easy to dissolve.
    That dissolves easily.
    Soluble.

Conjugation

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.
  • wasure-yasui
    忘れやすい
    Forgetting is easy to do.
    Forgetting is easy to happen.
    Forgetting tends to happen.
  • watashi wa wasure-yasui
    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 wasure-yasui
    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 aru koto wa oboe-yasuku
    kyoumi nai koto wa wasure-yasui

    興味あることは覚えやすく
    興味ないことは忘れやすい
    [While] things [you] have interest are easy to remember,
    things [you have] no interest are easy to forget.

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:
  • tabe-yasui
    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.)
  • kowashi-yasui
    壊しやすい
    Easy to break [something].
    This thing looks like I, or someone else, could break it easily.
  • koware-yasui
    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!

易い

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.

安い

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

"Cheap"

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

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

"Calm"

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.

安らか、安らかな

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.

Antonyms

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:
  • shi-nikui
    しにくい
    Hard to do.
  • tabe-nikui
    食べにくい
    Hard to eat.
  • koware-nikui
    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
    Expensive.
    • 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
    Normal.
  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
    Easy.
  2. noomaru
    ノーマル
    Normal.
  3. haado
    ハード
    Hard.

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. - forum.wordreference.com, 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.

Examples

For reference, some more examples:
  • yomi-yasui
    読みやすい
    Easy to read.
    • yomu
      読む
      To read.
  • nomi-yasui
    飲みやすい
    Easy to drink. (e.g. pills.)
    • nomu
      飲む
      To drink.
  • kawari-yasui
    変わりやすい
    Easy to change.
    (e.g. fickle weather.)
    • kawaru
      変わる
      To change. (intransitive.)
  • aki-yasui
    飽きやすい
    Easy to become bored with.
    Easily bored.
    • akiru
      飽きる
      To get bored of.
  • kanji-yasui
    感じやすい
    Easy to feel.
    Sensitive. Susceptible. Impressionable​.
    • kanjiru
      感じる
      To feel.
  • kizutsuki-yasui
    傷つきやすい
    Easy to hurt.
    • kizutsuku
      傷つく
      To hurt.
      To attach an injury. (literally.)
  • damasare-yasui
    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.
  • tsukai-yasui
    使いやすい
    Easy to use.
    • tsukau
      使う
      To use.
  • atsukai-yasui
    扱いやすい
    Easy to handle.
    • atsukau
      扱う
      To handle.
  • tsukare-yasui
    疲れやすい
    Easy to get tired.
    Gets tired easily.
    • tsukareru
      疲れる
      To get tired.

分かりやすい

  • wakari-yasui
    分かりやすい
    Easy to understand.
    • wakaru
      分かる
      To understand.
  • wakari-yasuku 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.

気安い

  • kiyasui
    気安い
    Relaxed. Familiar. Friendly.
  • kiyasuku hanashi-kakenaide
    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

References

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