Adjectives are probably the simplest type of word in Dhivehi because they have fewer forms than other types of words. These forms are independent of the plurality/definiteness/case of the the noun that the adjective qualifies.

Like in English, adjectives come before nouns:

  • ހޫނު ފެން – Hot water
  • ބޮޑު ގަހެއް – A big tree
  • ދިގު އިސްތަށި – Long hair
  • ރަތް މަލެއް – A red flower
  • މުސްކުޅި މީހެއް – An old person
  • ރީތި ހެދުން – Nice/pretty dress
  • ފޮނި ދޮންކެޔޮ – Sweet banana
  • ހިކި ފަތްތައް – Dry leaves
  • ނުބައި ވަހެއް – A bad smell
  • ހަޑި ކުދިން – Bad kids

If the adjective comes after the noun, it translates into a full sentence in English:

  • ހޫނު ފެން – Hot water
  • ފެން ހޫނު – The water is hot
  • ދިގު އިސްތަށި – Long hair
  • އިސްތަށި ދިގު – The hair is long

In this kind of sentence the noun cannot be indefinite. So you cannot say something like “އިސްތައްޓެއް ދިގު”.

Negative Adjectives

An adjective can be made negative by adding ނޫން after it. This is similar to the way “non-” is used in English, except ނޫން can be used with pretty much any adjective.

  • ބޮޑު ނޫން ގަހެއް – A tree that is not big
  • ދިގު ނޫން އިސްތަށި – Hair that is not long
  • ފިނި ނޫން ދުވަހެއް – A day that is not cold
  • މުސްކުޅި ނޫން މީހުން – People who are not old

We’ll look at the full sentence equivalents of these in another lesson.

Adjectives for Good and Bad Things

The words for “good” and “bad” vary, depending on the nature of the thing you are talking about.

  • ރަނގަޅު – Good in general, okay, acceptable
  • ރީތި – Good in appearance, pretty, beautiful
  • މީރު – Good of tastes and smells, tasty, delicious
  • ނުބައި – Bad in general, or of tastes and smells, wrong, incorrect, unacceptable
  • ނުލަފާ – Bad in character
  • ހަޑި – Bad in appearance or quality/character, ugly

Yes, it would be easier to say that they all have different meanings, but that may give you the idea that the connotations are the same as in English. For example, މީރު does not have the exact same meaning as “delicious”.

Usage

You can use the words with whichever nouns you like, but the meaning of the word will impact the meaning of the sentence.

If you describe food as މީރު, you are saying it tastes good. If you say it is ރީތި, you are saying it is presented nicely. If you say it is ރަނގަޅު, you are either saying it tastes alright, or it is suitable for a certain occasion or for certain people.

If you describe someone’s clothes as ހަޑި, you are saying that they do not look good. If you describe them as ނުބައި, it would mean they are inappropriate (for whatever occasion).

Vocabulary

dhivehi-vocabulary-2

The table includes some words I have not used in the main part of the lesson.

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