There are currently 7.7 billion people on Earth and no less than 7,139 living languages worldwide. But what are the...
Hello and welcome to another language learning lesson about colors. Roses are indeed red, but violets are actually violet. So it’s pretty important to master the basic colors when you want to learn a new language. Do you want to learn the colors in Spanish? The colors in French? Or maybe the colors in Japanese? Scroll down to discover them all.
Color is omnipresent in our lives. From the very first moment we become aware of our surroundings, color stimulates our senses. Our mother’s blue eyes comfort us, the yellow banana makes us drool, the red toy car brings excitement and the green veggies are “healthy but disgusting”. Naturally, the colors are some of the first words we learn not just in our native language, but in any language. So let’s dive right in and learn how to say red, blue, green and orange in Spanish, French, Japanese and 20 other languages.
The colors in Spanish
Spanish colors are easy enough to remember. At least most of them. Why “most”? Because ‘orange’ in Spanish always seems to be problematic.
If you are talking about both the color and the fruit, Real Academia Española states that ‘orange’ in Spanish is ‘naranja’. ‘Anaranjado’, on the other hand, refers to something that is ‘orange-colored’ or ‘oranged’ (if such word would exist).
Now, there are some people who argue that technically, ‘anaranjado’ is the name of the color and ‘naranja’ is the name of the fruit, but that shouldn’t worry you since Real Academia Española gave the green light to ‘naranja’ to be used for both. After all, RAE is the authority when it comes to linguistic regularization in the Spanish-speaking world.
That being said, here are the 12 most important colors in Spanish:
- red — rojo
- pink — rosa
- orange — naranja
- yellow — amarillo
- green — verde
- blue — azul
- brown — marrón
- violet — violeta
- cyan — cian
- grey — gris
- white — blanco
- black — negro
Don’t forget that the colors in Spanish are most of the time used as adjectives. Therefore, they must agree with the gender and number of the noun they are determining. For example, ‘red’ in Spanish will be ‘roja’ if you are talking about una chaqueta que es roja (“a jacket that is red”) which is a feminine noun.
The pronunciation of most of these color names in different languages can prove to be really tricky if you don’t have the audio handy. Luckily, you can always download Mondly and learn the colors in up to 41 languages in just a few minutes. Besides, if you are an iOS user*, you can also experiment and have fun learning on the go with Mondly Hands-Free.
*Mondly Hands-Free will soon be available for Android users as well.
The colors in French
There is ‘Pinot Noir’, ‘film noir’, ‘neo-noir’ movies and even ‘noir furniture’. So what is ‘noir’? Well, ‘noir’ is French for ‘black’. Simple as that.
But once again, French learners are not as lucky as English learners. While in English color names keep their forms regardless of the noun’s gender, French colors must agree with the gender and number of the noun they are determining. For example, for a feminine noun, ‘noir’ becomes ‘noire’. Additionally, for a plural feminine noun, ‘noir’ receives both an ‘e’ and an ‘s’ and becomes ‘noires’.
Now that you know the rules, here are the most common colors in French:
- red — rouge
- pink — rose
- orange — orange
- yellow — jaune
- green — vert
- blue — bleu
- brown — marron
- violet — violet
- cyan — cyan
- grey — gris
- white — blanc
- black — noir
Now stop right there because we have three tiny little exceptions to discuss.
First of all, the feminine of ‘blanc’ is ‘blanche’.
Secondly, the colors that already end in an ‘e’ remain the same for feminine nouns. You don’t have to add an extra ‘e’. Just an ‘s’ if you need the plural form.
Last, but not least, ‘orange’ and ‘marron’ never change. Regardless of the gender or the number of the noun they are determining, they stay the same.
Main Japanese colors – 白い (shiroi), 黒い (kuroi), 赤い (akai), 青い (aoi)
If this is not the first time you get in contact with Japanese, then you know that Japanese is a very logical language. It is beautiful as it is hard to learn and knowing as little as basic Japanese certainly feels like a personal triumph.
So what is up with the colors in Japanese? Well, Japanese colors are actually easier to learn than you’d expect. Unlike French or Spanish colors, Japanese colors don’t change their form according to the noun. Instead, they need a particle.
But before going into a little more detail, here are the 12 most common Japanese colors:
- red — 赤 (‘aka’)
- pink — ピンク (‘pinku’)
- orange — オレンジ (‘orenji’)
- yellow — 黄色 (‘kiiro’)
- green — 緑 (‘midori’)
- blue — 青 (‘ao’)
- brown — 茶 (‘cha’)
- violet — 紫 (‘murasaki’)
- cyan — 青緑 (‘aomidori’)
- grey — 灰色 (‘haiiro’)
- white — 白 (‘shiro’)
- black — 黒 (‘kuro’)
If you need to describe an object using one of these colors, you should add the particle ‘の (no)’ between them as follows: color + の + subject. For example, “a brown bag” will translate in Japanese as 茶色の鞄 (‘chairo no kaban’). As discussed, the particle ‘の (no)’ goes in the middle.
However, there are some Japanese colors (red, blue, black and white) that have their own adjective equivalents. These were the basic forms of color in ancient Japanese and every other color was broadly categorized under them. They are:
- white — 白い (‘shiroi’)
- black — 黒い (‘kuroi’)
- red — 赤い (‘akai’)
- blue — 青い (‘aoi’)
- yellow — 黄色い (‘kiiroi’) – has to be put together with the word 色 meaning “iro colors”
Using these, you can describe an object without using the ‘の (no)’ particle. For example, “the sky is blue” will be 空は青い (‘sora wa aoi’).
The German colors – a happy surprise
Apart from the fact that German colors are adjectives and they usually come before the noun when you’re describing something, they don’t impose any other rules. Or rule exceptions.
So well done, German! At last, you are the easiest one!
The most common German colors are:
- red — Rot
- pink — Rosa
- orange — Orange
- yellow — Gelb
- green — Grün
- blue — Blau
- brown — Braun
- violet — Violett
- cyan — Türkis
- grey — Grau
- white — Weiß
- black — Schwarz
‘Black’ in German sounds familiar because it is also a surname.
Now here’s a bonus: if you want to name lighter or darker hues of colors in German, you simply add ‘hell’ and ‘dunkel’ before the color name.
The colors in Korean
The good news about the colors in Korean is that their usage is pretty straightforward since they are nouns, but they can be used as adjectives as well under the same form.
You’ll notice that most of the colors in Korean end in ‘색’ (‘saeg’) because this is the word for ‘color’ in Korean.
The most common colors in Korean are:
- red — 빨강 (‘ppalgang’)
- pink — 핑크 (‘pingkeu’)
- orange — 오렌지 (‘orenji’)
- yellow — 노란색 (‘noransaeg’)
- green — 녹색 (‘nogsaeg’)
- blue — 파랑 (‘parang’)
- brown — 갈색 (‘galsaeg’)
- violet — 보라색 (‘borassaeg’)
- cyan — 하늘색 (‘haneulsaeg’)
- grey — 회색 (‘hoesaeg’)
- white — 흰색 (‘huinsaeg’)
- black — 검정 (‘geomjeong’)
The colors in Italian
Like all the other Romance languages, Italian has special rules when it comes to gender and number. Thus, Italian colors must agree with the gender and number of the noun they are determining. For example, il vino è rosso (“the wine is red”), but la giacca è rossa (“the jacket is red”).
Similar to French, most of the colors in Italian that end in ‘o’ in masculine singular, will end in ‘a’ for the feminine form. The exception is given by ‘blu’ and ‘arancione’ that never change regardless of the noun they are determining.
The 12 most common colors in Italian are:
- red — rosso
- pink — rosa
- orange — arancione
- yellow — giallo
- green — verde
- blue — blu
- brown — marrone
- violet — viola
- cyan — ciano
- grey — grigio
- white — bianco
- black — nero
The colors in Chinese, Russian and 10 other languages
We sometimes forget how splendid the world we live in is. Lucky we have Netflix and David Attenborough to remind us that the spectacular is around us and not in our imagination. But what if the world would lose its color? Would the sky have the same calming effect without its blue? Would we still yearn to spend an afternoon in the wonderful sea of green trees lying at the foothills of a mountain? Would we still drool at the sight of colorless food?
This is exactly why colors are such a vital part of our everyday vocabulary. So let’s explore even more languages and their colors.
The colors in Chinese
- red — 红色的 (‘hóngsè de’)
- pink — 粉红色的 (‘fěnhóngsè de’)
- orange — 橙色的 (‘chéngsè de’)
- yellow — 黄色的 (‘huángsè de’)
- green — 绿色的 (‘lǜsè de’)
- blue — 蓝色的 (‘lán sè de’)
- brown — 棕色的 (‘zōngsè de’)
- violet — 紫色的 (‘zǐsè de’)
- cyan — 蓝绿色的 (‘lán lǜsè de’)
- grey — 灰色的 (‘huīsè de’)
- white — 白色的 (‘báisè de’)
- black — 黑色的 (‘hēisè de’)
When it comes to Chinese, it’s also fascinating to look up the meaning of these colors. For example, yellow is a very important color for the Chinese people as they are descendants of the Yellow Emperor.
The colors in Russian
- red — красный (‘krasnyy’)
- pink — розовый (‘rozovyy’)
- orange — оранжевый (‘oranzhevyy’)
- yellow — жёлтый (‘zhioltyy’)
- green — зелёный (‘zelionyy’)
- blue — синий (‘siniy’)
- brown — коричневый (‘korichnevyy’)
- violet — фиолетовый (‘fioletovyy’)
- cyan — сине-зелёный (‘sine-zelionyy’)
- grey — серый (‘seryy’)
- white — белый (‘belyy’)
- black — чёрный (‘chiornyy’)
Similar to Romance languages, Russian colors change their form depending on the noun they are describing. For example, the above-mentioned forms are all in masculine singular. Furthermore, the form will also change depending on where the color name appears in the sentence. This makes the colors in Russian a little bit more difficult to learn than other languages, but the basics are always a good place to start!
The colors in other 15 of the most popular languages
|red||أحمر - ahmar||אדום - Adom||लाल - Laal|
|pink||وردي - wardy||ורוד - Varod||गुलाबी - Gulaabee|
|orange||برتقالي - burtuqaly||כתום - Katom||नारंगी - Naarangee|
|yellow||أصفر - asfar||צהוב - Tsahov||पीला - Peela|
|green||أخضر - akhdar||ירוק - Yarok||हरा - Hara|
|blue||أزرق - azraq||כחול - Kakhol||नीला - Neela|
|brown||بني - bonyy||חום - Khoom||भूरा - Bhuura|
|violet||بنفسجي - banafsaji||סגול - Sagol||बैंगनी - Bainganee|
|cyan||أزرق سماوي - azraq samawi||טורקיז - Toorkeez||सियान - Siyaan|
|grey||رمادي - ramady||אפור - Afor||स्लेटी - Sletee|
|white||أبيض - abyad||לבן - Lavan||सफ़ेद - saphed|
|black||أسود - aswad||שחור - Shakhor||काला - Kaala|
|red||ruber||κόκκινο - kókkino|
|pink||purpurarius||ροζ - roz|
|orange||subruber||πορτοκαλί - portokali|
|yellow||citreo colore||κίτρινο - kitrino|
|green||virens||πράσινο - prasino|
|blue||caeruleus||μπλε - ble|
|brown||castaneus||καφέ - kaphé|
|violet||color violae||μωβ - mo̱v|
|cyan||cyaneus||γαλάζιο - galazio|
|grey||ravus||γκρι - gri|
|white||albus||λευκό - leukó|
|black||niger||μαύρο - maúro|
|orange||kulay-kahel||màu da cam|
|green||berde||màu xanh lá cây|
|cyan||siyano||màu xanh lá mạ|
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