Japanese verb conjugation

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This is a list of Japanese verb conjugations. Almost all of these are regular, but there are a few Japanese irregular verbs, and the conjugations of the very few irregular verbs are also listed. Japanese verb conjugation is the same for all subjects, first person ("I", "we"), second person ("you") and third person ("he/she/it" and "they"), singular and plural. The plain form of all verbs ends in u. In modern Japanese, there are no verbs, at least in the plain form, ending in fu, pu, or yu, no verbs ending in zu other than certain する forms (such as 禁ず kin-zu), and 死ぬ (しぬ, shinu; to die) is the only one ending in nu.

This article describes a set of conjugation rules widely used in order to teach Japanese as a foreign language. However, Japanese linguists have been proposing various grammatical theories for over a hundred years and there is still no consensus about the conjugations. Japanese people learn the more traditional "school grammar" in their schools, which explains the same grammatical phenomena in a different way with different terminology (see the corresponding Japanese article).

A revision sheet visually summarizing the conjugations and uses described below.

Summary of verb conjugations[edit]

Verb conjugates are often grouped into consonant-stems (五段動詞 godandoushi?), vowel-stems (一段動詞 ichidandoushi?, いる iru and える eru forms), and action verbs. The plain form of a type I verb has an u sound (u, tsu, ru, ku, gu, bu, mu, su), the ~ます -masu form has an i sound (i, chi, ri, ki, gi, bi, mi, shi), and the negative form has an a sound (wa, ta, ra, ka, ga, ba, ma, sa). The potential form has an e sound (e, te, re, ke, ge, be, me, se) and the volitional form has an おう ō sound (ō, tō, rō, kō, gō, bō, mō, sō), so putting these together with the sounds above shows that verb conjugations follow the vowel syllabary of the Japanese character set: あ a, い i, う u, え e and お o.

辞書形
dictionary form
ます形
polite form[i]
否定形
negative form[ii]
て形
"te" form
た形
perfective form
~う -u[iii] ~います -imasu ~わない -wanai ~って -tte ~った -tta
~つ -tsu ~ちます -chimasu ~たない -tanai
~る -ru ~ります -rimasu ~らない -ranai
~く -ku[iv] ~きます -kimasu ~かない -kanai ~いて -ite ~いた -ita
~ぐ -gu ~ぎます -gimasu ~がない -ganai ~いで -ide ~いだ -ida
~ぶ -bu ~びます -bimasu ~ばない -banai ~んで -nde ~んだ -nda
~む -mu ~みます -mimasu ~まない -manai
~す -su ~します -shimasu ~さない -sanai ~して -shite ~した -shita
(~い)る -iru[v] ~ます -masu ~ない -nai ~て -te ~た -ta
(~え)る -eru[v]
する suru します shimasu しない shinai して shite した shita
くる kuru きます kimasu こない konai きて kite きた kita
  1. ^ Since the polite ~ます -masu form ends with ~す -su, the polite past form mostly follows the ~す -su rules. So for example the polite form of 話す hanasu is 話します hanashimasu, and the polite past form is 話しました hanashimashita, but the polite negative form is 話しません hanashimasen. See other examples of the polite form here.
  2. ^ Since the negative ~ない -nai form ends with ~い -i, any further inflection of the negative form will behave as an i-adjective. For example, 話さない hanasanai "not talking" becomes 話さなかった(です) hanasanakatta(desu) "didn't talk".
  3. ^ Two exceptions are 問う tou "to question" which conjugates to 問うて toute and the even less common 請う kou "to request" which conjugates to 請うて koute.
  4. ^ The only exception is 行く iku which conjugates to いって itte.
  5. ^ a b Not all verbs ending with いる iru or える eru are vowel stems, some are consonant stems instead like 走る hashiru "run" and 帰る kaeru "return". A full list of the many exceptions can be found here.
  1. ^ All of the potential forms end in える eru or いる iru so they follow the vowel-stem (一段動詞 ichidandoushi) rules. 話せる hanaseru becomes 話せます hanasemasu.
  2. ^ Conditional form is like saying "if ..." or "when ...".
  3. ^ Also called the conjectural/tentative/presumptive form, it is the plain form of ~ましょう -mashō. ~ましょう -mashō is used as an inclusive command ("let's ..."), but becomes an inclusive query ("shall we ...?") when ka is added (食べましょうか tabe mashō ka "Shall we eat?"). -ō to omoimasu indicates the speaker's conjecture ("I think (I will)") and -ō to omotte imasu indicates the speaker's current intentions ("I'm thinking (I will)"). -ō to suru/-ō to shite iru/-ō to shite imasu indicates intention ("(be) about to").[1]
  4. ^ The exception is 分かる wakaru "to understand" which already expresses ability innately without a conjugation.
Example
dictionary word
Example
polite form
Example
negative form
Example
present form
Example
perfective form
あら arau "wash" あらいます araimasu あらわない arawanai あらって aratte あらった aratta
matsu "wait" ちます machimasu たない matanai って matte った matta
toru "take" ります torimasu らない toranai って totte った totta
kaku "write" きます kakimasu かない kakanai いて kaite いた kaita
いそ isogu "hurry" いそぎます isogimasu いそがない isoganai いそいで isoide いそいだ isoida
shinu[i] "die" にます shinimasu なない shinanai んで shinde んだ shinda
yobu "call out" びます yobimasu ばない yobanai んで yonde んだ yonda
nomu "drink" みます nomimasu まない nomanai んで nonde んだ nonda
はな hanasu "speak" はなします hanashimasu はなさない hanasanai はなして hanashite はなした hanashita
miru "see" ます mimasu ない minai mite mita
たべ taberu "eat" たべます tabemasu たべない tabenai たべ tabete たべ tabeta
する suru[i] "do" します shimasu しない shinai して shite した shita
勉強 benkyou "study" 勉強します benkyoushimasu 勉強しない benkyoushinai 勉強して benkyoushite 勉強した benkyoushita
くる kuru[i] "come" きます kimasu こない konai きて kite きた kita
  1. ^ a b c The only example of this form. See Japanese irregular verbs for more.
  1. ^ a b All of these verbs end in える eru so conjugation from here follows the vowel-stem (一段動詞 ichidandoushi) rules. る ru can simply be replaced with ます masu to make it polite.
  2. ^ With all verbs, the prohibitive form is simply obtained by adding -な to the dictionary form. It is used to command someone not to do something. An example is 入るな hairu na "Do not enter."
  3. ^ The imperative form can be used as a command, e.g. 黙れ damare "shut up!", やめ yame "stop!" or 止まれ tomare "Stop (sign)". Non-volitional verbs (e.g. ある aru, わかる wakaru, できる dekiru) have no imperative form and くれる kureru "to give" is an exception that conjugates to くれ kure (the plain form of ~てください -te kudasai "Please (do)...").
    A politer way of telling someone to do something is to use (masu stem)~なさい -nasai instead (e.g. 飲みなさい nominasai "Drink up.", しなさい shinasai "Do (what was said)."), or more informally, (masu stem)~な -na. Imperative form: たくさん食べな takusan tabena "Eat a lot." Prohibitive form: たくさん食べるな takusan taberu na "Don't pig out!"

Table key[edit]

The conjugation tables below will include the edict word class abbreviations[2] to disambiguate classes with similar word endings. See Japanese consonant and vowel verbs for more information about verb groups and their conjugations.

Abbreviation Explanation
adj-i adjective (keiyoushi)
adj-na adjectival nouns or quasi-adjectives (keiyodoshi)
adj-t `taru' adjective
adv-to adverb taking the `to' particle
aux auxiliary
aux-v auxiliary verb
aux-adj auxiliary adjective
v1 Ichidan verb
v5 Godan verb (not completely classified)
v5aru Godan verb - -aru special class
v5b Godan verb with `bu' ending
v5g Godan verb with `gu' ending
v5k Godan verb with `ku' ending
v5k-s Godan verb - Iku/Yuku special class
v5m Godan verb with `mu' ending
v5n Godan verb with `nu' ending
v5r Godan verb with `ru' ending
v5r-i Godan verb with `ru' ending (irregular verb)
v5s Godan verb with `su' ending
v5t Godan verb with `tsu' ending
v5u Godan verb with `u' ending
v5u-s Godan verb with `u' ending (special class)
vk Kuru verb - special class
vs noun or participle which takes the aux. verb suru

Imperfective[edit]

In Japanese, the basic verb form is an imperfective aspect. It is broadly equivalent to the present and future tenses of English, and is sometimes called the "non-past tense". The imperfective form of a verb is the same as its dictionary form—it is used as the headword, or lemma—and no conjugation needs to be done. For example, using the verb する ("do"):

  • (私は)買い物する (watashi wa) kaimono suru: "(I) shop", or "(I) will shop". (Japanese pronouns are usually omitted when it is clear about whom the speaker is talking.)
  • (私は)明日勉強する (watashi wa) ashita benkyō suru: "Tomorrow, (I) will study".

In most cases, the base form of the imperfective aspect cannot be used to make a progressive statement, such as in the English sentence "I am shopping". Rather, it can only be used to express habit or other actions that are expected to continue into the future, such as in "I shop". To convey the former, the te form with iru must be used.

Patterns for adjectives in an imperfective setting are:

Type of word Pattern Example as a sentence with noun
adj-i -い -i -い -i/-いです -i (desu), -い -i 安い yasui (cheap) 安い/安いです yasui (desu) (it is cheap) 安い品物 yasui shinamono (cheap goods)
adj-na - -だ -da/-です -desu, -な -na 簡単 kantan (simple) 簡単だ/です kantan da/desu (it is simple) 簡単な事 kantan na koto (simple thing)
adj-t - -たる -taru 暗澹 antan (dark) 暗澹たる時期 antan-taru jiki (dark period)
adv-to - -と -to 陶然 tōzen (entranced) 陶然としている人 tōzen to shite iru hito (entranced person)

Perfective[edit]

The perfective aspect, on the other hand, has a specific suffix. The basic pattern is the -ta (or -da) ending, but various phonetic changes are made, depending on the verb's last syllable. These phonetic changes are known as 音便 onbin "euphony", and the resulting form as 音便形 onbinkei "euphonic form" – see Euphonic changes (音便 onbin). The perfective is broadly equivalent to English past tense, and is often called past tense in treatments of Japanese grammar, but it is not restricted to any single tense.

Type of word Perfective Examples Perfective
aux da (copula) だった datta (Deviates in conjunction with adj-i, see below)
aux です desu (copula, polite) でした deshita
-ます -masu (polite suffix) -ました -mashita 行きます ikimasu (go [polite]) 行きました ikimashita
vs する suru (do) した shita 運転する unten suru (drive) 運転した unten shita
vk 来る kuru (come) 来た kita 持って来る motte kuru (bring) 持って来た motte kita
v5u -う -u -った -tta 使う tsukau (use) 使った tsukatta
v5u-s -う -u (See Usage) -うた -uta, -ota 問う tou (ask) 問うた tōta
v5k -く -ku -いた -ita 焼く yaku (grill) 焼いた yaita
v5k-s -く -ku -った -tta 行く iku, yuku (go) 行った itta
v5g -ぐ -gu -いだ -ida 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳いだ oyoida
v5s -す -su -した -shita 示す shimesu (show) 示した shimeshita
v5t -つ -tsu -った -tta 待つ matsu (wait) 待った matta
v5n -ぬ -nu -んだ -nda 死ぬ shinu (die) 死んだ shinda
v5b -ぶ -bu -んだ -nda 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼んだ yonda
v5m -む -mu -んだ -nda 読む yomu (read) 読んだ yonda
v5r -る -ru -った -tta 走る hashiru (run) 走った hashitta
v5r-i -る -ru -った -tta ある aru (be, exist) あった atta
v5aru -る -ru -った -tta いらっしゃる irassharu (be, go [honorific]) いらっしゃった irasshatta
いらした irashita[3]
v1 -る -ru -た -ta 見る miru (see)

食べる taberu (eat)

見た mita

食べた tabeta

adj-i -い -i -かった -katta 安い yasui (cheap)

安いです (polite)

安かった yasukatta

安かったです (polite)

adj-na -な -na -だった -datta 簡単 kantan na/da (easy) 簡単だった kantan datta

N.B.: A verb not ending in -iru or -eru in its Latin transcription is not an ichidan verb, and it follows that it is then either godan or irregular.

Usage

  • Non-exhaustive list of actions (like AやB is used for non-exhaustive lists of objects): 本を読んだり、テレビを見たりした hon o yondari, terebi o mitari shita (I read a book, watched TV, etc.)

Note that the perfective conjugation for verbs ending in -う more commonly follows the v5u-s pattern listed above for speakers of Western Japanese. The う in the perfective ending -うた may be pronounced either as an u or as an o depending on the preceding vowel, according to regular Japanese phonological rules. Consequently, in Kansai, one may hear forms such as つかう tsukau → つこうた tsukōta, or いう iu → いうた iuta.[4]

Usage of the perfective aspect follows the same pattern as the imperfective aspect. For example, 日本に行く nihon ni iku (I go to Japan) becomes 日本に行った nihon ni itta (I went to Japan).

Negative[edit]

The basic pattern is: u becomes anai (informal).

Type Negative Examples Negative
aux da (copula) ではない de wa nai

じゃない ja nai (colloquial)

(Deviates with adj-i)
aux です desu (copula, polite) ではありません de wa arimasen

じゃありません ja arimasen (colloquial)

vs する suru (do) しない shinai

(さない sanai)

勉強する benkyō suru (study)

愛する aisuru (love)

勉強しない benkyō shinai

愛さない aisanai

vk 来る kuru (come) 来ない konai
-ます -masu (polite suffix) -ません -masen 行きます ikimasu (go) 行きません ikimasen
v5u(-s) -う -u -わない -wanai 使う tsukau (use) 使わない tsukawanai
v5k(-s) -く -ku -かない -kanai 焼く yaku (grill) 焼かない yakanai
v5g -ぐ -gu -がない -ganai 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳がない oyoganai
v5s -す -su -さない -sanai 示す shimesu (show) 示さない shimesanai
v5t -つ -tsu -たない -tanai 待つ matsu (wait) 待たない matanai
v5n -ぬ -nu -なない -nanai 死ぬ shinu (die) 死なない shinanai
v5b -ぶ -bu -ばない -banai 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼ばない yobanai
v5m -む -mu -まない -manai 読む yomu (read) 読まない yomanai
v5r -る -ru -らない -ranai 走る hashiru (run) 走らない hashiranai
v5r-i -る -ru * ある aru (be, exist) ない nai
v5aru -る -ru -らない -ranai 下さる kudasaru (give) 下さらない kudasaranai
v1 -る -ru -ない -nai 見る miru (see)

食べる taberu (eat)

見ない minai

食べない tabenai

adj-i -い -i -くない -ku nai 痛い itai (painful) 痛くない itaku nai
adj-na -な -na -ではない -de wa nai

-じゃない -ja nai

簡単 kantan (simple) 簡単ではない kantan de wa nai

簡単じゃない kantan ja nai

The ない nai ending conjugates in two ways.

  1. As an i adjective. For example the past tense of 食べない tabenai is 食べなかった tabenakatta and the te form is 食べなくて tabenakute.
  2. There is a special te/naide form made by adding で de which yields ないで naide – this can be replaced with ず zu in formal usage.
    • Requesting someone to cease/desist: 食べないで下さい tabenaide kudasai "Please don't eat (this)"
    • Joining a subordinate clause: 食べないで、寝た。 tabenaide, neta "Without eating, I went to bed."

i form[edit]

The i form, or 連用形 ren'yōkei, is very regular, and in almost all cases it is formed by replacing the u with i. Phonetically, this changes す su to し shi, and つ tsu to ち chi.

Type i form Examples i form
aux da, です desu であり de ari
vs する suru (do) shi 勉強する benkyō suru 勉強し benkyō shi
vk 来る kuru (come) ki
v5u(-s) -う -u -い -i 使う tsukau (use) 使い tsukai
v5k(-s) -く -ku -き -ki 焼く yaku (grill) 焼き yaki
v5g -ぐ -gu -ぎ -gi 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳ぎ oyogi
v5s -す -su -し -shi 示す shimesu (show) 示し shimeshi
v5t -つ -tsu -ち -chi 待つ matsu (wait) 待ち machi
v5n -ぬ -nu -に -ni 死ぬ shinu (die) 死に shini
v5b -ぶ -bu -び -bi 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼び yobi
v5m -む -mu -み -mi 読む yomu (read) 読み yomi
v5r -る -ru -り -ri 走る hashiru (run) 走り hashiri
v5r-i -る -ru -り -ri ある aru (be, exist) あり ari
v5aru -る -ru -い -i 下さる kudasaru (give) 下さい kudasai
v1 -る -ru 見る miru (see)

食べる taberu (eat)

mi

食べ tabe

Usage

The i form has many uses, typically as a prefix. These include:

  • To form polite verbs when followed by the -ます -masu ending: 行く iku → 行きますikimasu, 使う tsukau → 使います tsukaimasu.
  • To express a wish when followed by the ending -たい -tai: 食べたい tabetai: "I want to eat it", 行きたい ikitai: "I want to go". (The -tai ending conjugates as an -い -i adjective.)
  • To express a strong negative intention when followed by -はしない -wa shinai: 行きはしないよあんな所 iki wa shinai yo, anna tokoro "no way I'm going someplace like that".
  • To form a command when followed by
    • -なさい -nasai: これを食べなさい kore o tabenasai: "eat this", あそこへ行きなさい asoko e ikinasai: "go over there".
    • -な -na: 真っすぐ帰りな massugu kaerina "go straight home": 仲良く遊びな nakayoku asobina "play nice". (Used with children, etc.)
  • To express that something is easy or hard when followed by -易い -yasui or -難い -nikui: したしみ易い shitashimiyasui: "easy to befriend": 分かり難い wakarinikui: "hard to understand".
  • To express excessiveness when followed by the verb -過ぎる -sugiru: 飲み過ぎる nomisugiru: "to drink too much". (sugiru can also be used with the stems of adjectives.)
  • To express doing something in conjunction with something else. When followed by the suffix -ながら -nagara, the verb becomes an adverb that means doing something while doing something else.
    • 歩きながら本を読んだ arukinagara hon o yonda: "I read a book as I walked."
  • When followed by the verb -やがる -yagaru in yakuza speech, to express affronted contempt (a conjugation of opposite polarity to the honorifics) showing disrespect in the form of hatred combined with haughty/macho disdain for the doer/subject of the action/verb: 殺しやがる koroshiyagaru: "to have the <expletive> gall to kill ___" (e.g. without my permission). (The te form can be substituted for the i form.)

The i form also has some uses on its own, such as:

  • To express purpose, with に ni: 食べに行きました tabe ni ikimashita: "I went there to eat". This is called the infinitive of purpose.
  • In formal honorifics such as お使い下さい o tsukai kudasai: "Please use this".
  • In conjunctions in formal writing.

For some verbs, the i form also forms part of related words in ways that are not governed by any general rules. For example:

  • The i form of 食べる taberu (to eat) can prefix 物 mono to form 食べ物 tabemono (food). Similarly with 飲む nomu (to drink) and 買う kau (to buy).
  • The i form of 賭ける kakeru (to bet) is a word on its own: 賭け kake, which means "a bet".
  • 離す hanasu (to separate) can be suffixed to the i form of kiru (to cut) to form 切り離す kirihanasu (to cut off).

te form[edit]

The te form of a Japanese verb (sometimes called the "participle") is used when the verb has some kind of connection to the following words. This originally came from the combination of the "i" form described above plus the particle "te". For all verbs, it is formed by changing the -a of the perfective aspect form to -e. Adjectives behave slightly differently.

Type Becomes Examples Te form
aux da (copula) de
vs する suru (do) して shite 愛する aisuru (to love) 愛して aishite
vk 来る kuru (come) 来て kite
-ます -masu (polite suffix) -まして -mashite 開けます akemasu (open) 開けまして akemashite
v5u -う -u -って -tte 使う tsukau (use) 使って tsukatte
v5u-s -う -u -うて -ute 問う tou (ask) 問うて tōte
v5k -く -ku -いて -ite 焼く yaku (grill) 焼いて yaite
v5k-s 行く iku (go) 行って itte 行く yuku (go) ゆって yutte
v5g -ぐ -gu -いで -ide 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳いで oyoide
v5s -す -su -して -shite 示す shimesu (show) 示して shimeshite
v5t -つ -tsu -って -tte 待つ matsu (wait) 待って matte
v5n -ぬ -nu -んで -nde 死ぬ shinu (die) 死んで shinde
v5b -ぶ -bu -んで -nde 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼んで yonde
v5m -む -mu -んで -nde 読む yomu (read) 読んで yonde
v5r -る -ru -って -tte 走る hashiru (run) 走って hashitte
v5r-i -る -ru -って -tte ある aru (be, exist) あって atte
v5aru -る -ru -って -tte いらっしゃる irassharu (be in honorific speech) いらっしゃって irasshatte
いらして irashite
v1 -る -ru -て -te 見る miru (see)

食べる taberu (eat)

見て mite

食べて tabete

adj-i -い -i -くて -kute 安い yasui (cheap) 安くて yasukute
adj-na -な -na -で -de 簡単な kantan na (simple) 簡単で kantan de

Usage

  • As a simple command:
    • 食べて Tabete: "Eat."
    • 読んで Yonde: "Read."
  • In requests with くれる kureru and 下さい kudasai.
    • 本を読んでください: "Please read the book."
  • With the verbs :
    • いる iru: Forms a progressive or continuous tense. For example: 待っている matte iru: "I am waiting", 知っている shitte iru: "I know", 持っている motte iru: "I have", ここに住んでいる koko ni sunde iru: "I live here". Colloquially, in this form, the "i" often disappears (also in the past tense), so 待っている matte iru becomes 待ってる matteru and 知っている shitte iru becomes 知ってる shitteru.
    • おく oku: To indicate a preparatory action in advance. お弁当を作っておいた obentō o tsukutte oita: "I have made a boxed lunch (for later)". Colloquially, in this form, the "e" often disappears, so 作っておいた tsukutte oita becomes 作っといた tsukuttoita.
    • ある aru: This forms a kind of passive when used with a transitive verb. ここに文字が書いてある koko ni moji ga kaite aru: "There are some characters written here". It shows that something was left in a certain state. Contrast to 書いている "kaite iru", "I am writing", which applies to the person doing the writing rather than what is written.
    • しまう shimau: This implies something is completed or done, usually unintentionally or accidentally or unexpectedly and sometimes expressing that the action is contrary to right or correct action: 片付けてしまった katazukete shimatta: "I have finished tidying". It can also suggest a regrettable situation: 私の鍵が消えてしまった watashi no kagi ga kiete shimatta: "My keys have disappeared".
      The form -てしまう -te shimau is shortened to the very commonly used and casual -ちまう -chimau or -ちゃう -chau with the same consonant doubling as the te form. For example, "I forgot my mobile phone!": "keitai wasurechatta!" "携帯忘れちゃった!" The -de shimau form is shortened to -じゃう -jau or -じまう -jimau in colloquial speech.
    • おる oru: Can express a continuing situation. It is the humble form of いる iru.
    • みる miru: It means "to try doing".
    • いく iku: Can express continuous action or a change of state in the future.
    • くる kuru: Can express continuous action or a change of state in the past.
  • To combine clauses or adjectives, as if by the English conjunction "and". For example:
    • 薬局へ行って薬を買う yakkyoku e itte, kusuri o kau: "(I am going to) go to the pharmacy and buy medicine."
    • あの人は親切で頭が良くて分かり易い ano hito wa shinsetsu de, atama ga yokute, wakariyasui: "That person is kind, smart, and easy to understand."
    • 安くていいね yasukute ii ne: "It's good that it's cheap." (lit. "Being cheap, it is good.")
  • With particles in formations such as
    • -てはいけない -te wa ikenai: "You must not ...". For example, 食べてはいけない tabete wa ikenai: "You must not eat this". (Other words of prohibition, such as だめ dame, can be substituted for ikenai.)
    • -てもいい -te mo ii: "You may do/It's ok if you do". For example, 食べてもいい tabete mo ii: "You may eat it".
    • -てもかまわない -te mo kamawanai: "You may do/I don't mind if you do"
    • -て欲しい -te hoshii: "I want you to do (for me)"
    • -てすみません -te sumimasen: "Sorry for making you go through the trouble of"
    • -てくれてありがとう -te kurete arigatou: "Thank you for". For example, ”見てくれてありがとう” mite kurete arigatou: "Thank you for watching".
    • -てくれる -te kureru: Used when somebody does you a favor.
    • -てあげる -te ageru: Used when you do someone a favor.

Potential[edit]

The general pattern is: u becomes eru.

Type Potential Examples Potential
vs する suru 出来る dekiru

(せられる serareru)
(せる seru)

勉強する benkyō suru

察する sassuru (guess)
愛する aisuru (love)

勉強出来る benkyō dekiru

察せられる sasserareru
愛せる aiseru

vk 来る kuru 来られる korareru

来れる koreru

v5u(-s) -う -u -える -eru 使う tsukau (use) 使える tsukaeru
v5k(-s) -く -ku -ける -keru 焼く yaku (grill) 焼ける yakeru
v5g -ぐ -gu -げる -geru 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳げる oyogeru
v5s -す -su -せる -seru 示す shimesu (show) 示せる shimeseru
v5t -つ -tsu -てる -teru 待つ matsu (wait) 待てる materu
v5n -ぬ -nu -ねる -neru 死ぬ shinu (die) 死ねる shineru
v5b -ぶ -bu -べる -beru 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼べる yoberu
v5b -む -mu -める -meru 読む yomu (read) 読める yomeru
v5r -る -ru -れる -reru 走る hashiru (run) 走れる hashireru
v5r-i ある aru あり得る ari eru/uru
v5aru -る -ru -り得る -ri eru/uru 下さる kudasaru (give) 下さり得る kudasari eru/uru
v1 -る -ru -られる -rareru 見る miru

食べる taberu

見られる mirareru

食べられる taberareru

v1 -る -ru -れる -reru[5] (colloquial form,

so-called ら抜き言葉 ra-nuki kotoba)

見る miru

食べる taberu

見れる mireru

食べれる tabereru

Usage

The potential is used to express that one has the ability to do something. Direct objects are marked with the particle が ga instead of を o. For example 日本語が読める nihongo ga yomeru: "I can read Japanese".

It is also used to request some action from someone, in the exact sense of the English "Can you ... ?" For example 「コーヒー買える?」 kōhī kaeru?: "Can (you) buy (some) coffee?" However, sometimes in English "Will you...?" and "Can you ... ?" is used interchangeably to make requests. Though it is possible in Japanese, 「コーヒー買う?」 kōhī kau?, it is very casual and might also mean simply "Are you buying/Will you buy coffee?" in a very dry factual sense.

Unlike in English, the potential is not often used to express permission (as in the sentence "Can I eat this apple?") as it is almost always understood to mean "Do I have the ability to eat this apple?": 「このりんごが食べられる?」 kono ringo ga taberareru?. And since the -reru form is more often used in speech than the more correct passive potential form -rareru, and subjects are often implied in Japanese, it may implicitly be asking (in this case) if the apple is edible. So, to seek permission, a more polite form is used, such as the -てもいい -te mo ii or more casual -ていい "-te ii"" usage of the -て -te form, resulting in something literally more like "Is eating this apple OK?" 「このりんごを食べてもいいですか?」 Kono ringo o tabete mo ii desu ka? or 「このりんごを食べていい?」 Kono ringo o tabete ii?.

The potential -ru ending conjugates as a vowel stem verb.

Consonants and vowels conjugate differently, see consonant and vowel conjugation.

There is no potential equivalent for です; other constructions for expressing may-be situations are used:

  • Using かもしれない expression. For verbs: 「明日降るかもしれない」 ashita furu kamo shirenai "It may rain tomorrow.", i-adj: 「旅行は高いかもしれない」 ryokou wa takai kamo shirenai "The journey is perhaps expensive.", na-adj: 「大切かもしれない」 taisetsu kamo shirenai "(This thing is) probably important."
  • Using adverbs. 「恐らく降る」 osoraku furu "It probably will rain", 「たぶん降る」 tabun furu "Perhaps it will rain"
  • (A rather strange and archaic-literary-sounding possibility is by transforming です to である and then constructing the potential, であり得る.)

Passive[edit]

The general pattern for the passive voice is: -u becomes -areru.

Type Passive Examples Passive
vs する suru される sareru 愛する ai suru (love) 愛される ai sareru
vk 来る kuru (come) 来られる korareru
v5u(-s) -う -u -われる -wareru 使う tsukau (use) 使われる tsukawareru
v5k(-s) -く -ku -かれる -kareru 焼く yaku (grill) 焼かれる yakareru
v5g -ぐ -gu -がれる -gareru 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳がれる oyogareru
v5s -す -su -される -sareru 示す shimesu (show) 示される shimesareru
v5t -つ -tsu -たれる -tareru 待つ matsu (wait) 待たれる matareru
v5n -ぬ -nu -なれる -nareru 死ぬ shinu (die) 死なれる shinareru
v5b -ぶ -bu -ばれる -bareru 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼ばれる yobareru
v5m -む -mu -まれる -mareru 読む yomu (read) 読まれる yomareru
v5r -る -ru -られる -rareru 走る hashiru (run) 走られる hashirareru
v1 -る -ru -られる -rareru 見る miru

食べる taberu

見られる mirareru

食べられる taberareru

  • The -る -ru ending of the passives becomes the new verb ending. This conjugates as a vowel stem verb. Thus past, -て -te, or polite forms can all be added to the verb.
  • The copula, だ da, does not form a passive.
  • For the -ます masu form, the -ます -masu is added to the passive of the plain verb.

Usage

The passive is used:

  • as a passive: このテレビは東芝によって作られた kono terebi wa Toshiba ni yotte tsukurareta: "This TV was made by Toshiba."
  • as a suffering passive, indicating that a regrettable thing was done to someone: 私は友達にビールを飲まれた watashi wa tomodachi ni biiru o nomareta: "I had (my) beer drunk by a friend" (and I am not happy about it).
  • as a form of respectful language: どちらへ行かれますか dochira e ikaremasu ka: "Where are you going?"

Causative[edit]

The causative forms are characterized by the final u becoming aseru for consonant stem verbs, and ru becoming saseru for vowel stem verbs.

Type Causative Examples Causative
vs する suru (do) させる saseru 勉強する benkyō suru (study) 勉強させる benkyō saseru
vk 来る kuru (come) 来させる kosaseru
v5u(-s) -う -u -わせる -waseru 使う tsukau (use) 使わせる tsukawaseru
v5k(-s) -く -ku -かせる -kaseru 焼く yaku (grill) 焼かせる yakaseru
v5g -ぐ -gu -がせる -gaseru 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳がせる oyogaseru
v5s -す -su -させる -saseru 示す shimesu (show) 示させる shimesaseru
v5t -つ -tsu -たせる -taseru 待つ matsu (wait) 待たせる mataseru
v5n -ぬ -nu -なせる -naseru 死ぬ shinu (die) 死なせる shinaseru
v5b -ぶ -bu -ばせる -baseru 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼ばせる yobaseru
v5m -む -mu -ませる -maseru 読む yomu (read) 読ませる yomaseru
v5r(-i) -る -ru -らせる -raseru 走る hashiru (run) 走らせる hashiraseru
v5aru -る -ru causative not used in honorific speech
v1 -る -ru -させる -saseru 見る miru

食べる taberu

見させる misaseru

食べさせる tabesaseru

  • The -ru ending of the causative form becomes the new verb ending. This conjugates as a vowel stem verb.
  • Negatives are not normally made into causatives. Instead, a negative ending is added to the causative of the verb. Thus, for example, Tabesasenai: "Do not let eat".
  • Adjectives are made causative by using the adverb form plus saseru.
  • A shortened causative form exists where the final -u becoming -asu for consonant stem verbs, and -ru becoming -sasu for vowel stem verbs.

Usage

The causative is used for:

  • Making someone do something: 宿題をさせる shukudai o saseru: "(I) make (him) do homework".
  • Letting someone do something: 外で遊ばせる soto de asobaseru: "(I) let (him) play outside".
  • With explicit actors: 先生が子供に勉強をさせた sensei ga kodomo ni benkyō o saseta: "The teacher made the children study."
  • The honorific forms させて貰う sasete morau or させて頂く sasete itadaku using the verbs 貰う morau or its humble equivalent 頂く itadaku.

Causative passive[edit]

The causative passive form is obtained by first conjugating in the causative form and then conjugating the result in the passive form.

Usage

As its rule suggests, the causative passive is used to express causation passively: 両親に勉強させられる ryōshin ni benkyō saserareru: "(I) am made to study by (my) parents".

Because words such as 待たせられる mataserareru are considered to be difficult to pronounce, frequently in colloquial speech, the middle part of the causative passive would contract. That is, 待たせられる mataserareru (I was made to wait), would become 待たされる matasareru. Another example such as "(I) was made to buy (something)" would formally be 買わせられた kawaserareta from the verb 買う kau, but colloquially, it is frequently contracted to 買わされた kawasareta. This abbreviation is not used for vowel-stem verbs, nor for the irregular する suru and くる kuru.

Provisional Conditional eba form[edit]

The eba provisional conditional form is characterized by the final -u becoming -eba for all verbs (with the semi-exception of -tsu verbs becoming -teba).

Type Conditional Examples Conditional
aux da (copula) であれば de areba
vs する suru すれば sureba 勉強する benkyō suru (study) 勉強すれば benkyō sureba
vk 来る kuru くれば kureba
v5u(-s) -う -u -えば -eba 使う tsukau (use) 使えば tsukaeba
v5k(-s) -く -ku -けば -keba 焼く yaku (grill) 焼けば yakeba
v5g -ぐ -gu -げば -geba 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳げば oyogeba
v5s -す -su -せば -seba 示す shimesu (show) 示せば shimeseba
v5t -つ -tsu -てば -teba 待つ matsu (wait) 待てば mateba
v5n -ぬ -nu -ねば -neba 死ぬ shinu (die) 死ねば shineba
v5b -ぶ -bu -べば -beba 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼べば yobeba
v5m -む -mu -めば -meba 読む yomu (read) 読めば yomeba
v5r -る -ru -れば -reba 走る hashiru (run) 走れば hashireba
v5r-i -る -ru -れば -reba ある aru (be, exist) あれば areba
v1 -る -ru -れば -reba 見る miru

食べる taberu

見れば mireba

食べれば tabereba

adj-i -い -i -ければ -kereba 寒い samui 寒ければ samukereba
adj-na -な -na -であれば -de areba 簡単 kantan 簡単であれば kantan de areba
aux-adj ない nai (negative) -なければ -nakereba 行かない ikanai 行かなければ ikanakereba
  • na adjectives and nouns are usually used with the なら nara conditional, instead of with であれば de areba.
  • The なければ nakereba form used for the negative form can be colloquially contracted to なきゃ nakya or なくちゃ nakucha (this has roots in なくては). Thus 行かなければ ikanakereba can become 行かなきゃ ikanakya.

Usage

The -eba provisional conditional form is used:

  • In conditionals where the emphasis rests more on the condition than the result. For example: 何をすればいいか nani o sureba ii ka - "What should I do?" (lit. "It would be good if I did what?") ; 分かればいい wakareba ii - "As long as you understand" (lit. "If you understand, it is good.") ; 時間があれば買い物をしよう jikan ga areba, kaimono wo shiyō - "If there's time, let's go shopping."
  • Expressing obligations: The expression なければならない nakereba naranai (or in a more formal manner なければなりません nakereba narimasen), where なる naru is the verb “to become”, means literally “if you don’t…, it’s no good” or in other words “you must” or “you have to”. The negative “don’t have to …” is expressed with なくてもいい - nakute mo ii. For example: 自己紹介は日本語でなければなりません Jiko shoukai wa Nihongo de nakereba narimasen - Your self-introduction must be in Japanese.

The nakereba negative conditional form means "if not X" or also "unless X". It is obtained by replacing the final -i of the plain negative form with -kereba. (tabenakereba: "if I don't eat" or "unless I eat")

The conditional is also called the "provisional form" in some grammars, because the implied condition is "provided that X happens" (mireba shiru: "provided that you see, you'll know" = "if you see, you'll know").

Conditional ra form[edit]

The conditional ra form (also called the past conditional) is formed from the past tense (TA form) by simply adding ra. ba can be further added to that, which makes it more formal.

Usage

The conditional ra form can be used in the same way as the provisional eba form. However, it implies more certainty about the condition, and therefore places more emphasis on the result than the condition. It can be used to mean more like "if and when", and is typically preferred over the eba form when this meaning is more accurate. For example:

  • 日本に行ったら、カメラを買いたい。nihon ni ittara, kamera wo kaitai: "If (when) I go to Japan, then (when that has happened) I want to buy a camera."

The conditional ra form can also be used when the main clause is in the past tense. In such situations, it means "when", and carries the additional implication that the result was unexpected. For example:

  • 喫茶店に行ったら、鈴木さんに出会った。kissaten ni ittara, Suzuki-san ni deatta: "When I went to the cafe, I came across Suzuki.".

Imperative[edit]

Most of the imperative forms are characterized by the final u becoming e.

Type Becomes Examples Imperative
aux da (copula) であれ de are
vs する suru しろ shiro

せよ seyo
(せ se)

勉強する benkyō suru (study)

愛する aisuru (love)

勉強しろ benkyō shiro

勉強せよ benkyō seyo
愛せ aise
愛せよ ai seyo

vk 来る kuru 来い koi
-ます -masu (polite suffix) -ませ -mase いらっしゃいます irasshaimasu (come, go) いらっしゃいませ irasshaimase
v5u(-s) -う -u -え -e 使う tsukau (use) 使え tsukae
v5k(-e) -く -ku -け -ke 焼く yaku (grill) 焼け yake
v5g -ぐ -gu -げ -ge 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳げ oyoge
v5s -す -su -せ -se 示す shimesu (show) 示せ shimese
v5t -つ -tsu -て -te 待つ matsu (wait) 待て mate
v5n -ぬ -nu -ね -ne 死ぬ shinu (die) 死ね shine
v5b -ぶ -bu -べ -be 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼べ yobe
v5m -む -mu -め -me 読む yomu (read) 読め yome
v5r -る -ru -れ -re 走る hashiru (run) 走れ hashire
v5r-i -る -ru -れ -re ある aru (be, exist) あれ are
v5aru -る -ru -い -i いらっしゃる irassharu

なさる nasaru

いらっしゃい irasshai

なさい nasai

v1 -いる -iru, -える -eru -いろ -iro, -いよ -iyo

-えろ -ero, -えよ -eyo

着替える kigaeru (change clothes) 着替えろ kigaero

着替えよ kigaeyo

  • The v5aru rule for polite verbs ending in -ru applies to the consonant-stem honorific verbs irassharu, ossharu, kudasaru, gozaru, and nasaru, whose imperative forms are the same as their irregular i forms.

Usage

The imperative form is used

  • in orders, such as in the military, or to inferiors, or to very intimate friends or family depending on the nature of the relationship (e.g., among very close male friends), or in textbook exercises — highly risky for use by learners until cultural nuances have been well and truly mastered
  • in set phrases such as nani shiro: "no matter what".
  • in reported speech, where a polite request may be reported using a plain imperative: kashite kudasai (direct) kase to iwareta (he told me to lend it to him).

Volitional (Presumptive, Hortative)[edit]

Type Volitional Examples Volitional
aux da (copula) だろう darō
aux です desu (polite copula) でしょう deshō
vs する suru (do) しよう shiyō

(そう )

勉強する benkyō suru (study)

愛する aisuru (love)

勉強しよう benkyō shiyō

愛そう aisō

vk 来る kuru (come) 来よう koyō
-ます -masu (polite suffix) -ましょう -mashō 行きます ikimasu (go, polite) 行きましょう ikimashō
v5u(-s) -う -u -おう 使う tsukau (use) 使おう tsukaō
v5k(-s) -く -ku -こう -kō 焼く yaku (grill) 焼こう yakō
v5g -ぐ -gu -ごう -gō 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳ごう oyogō
v5s -す -su -そう -sō 示す shimesu (show) 示そう shimesō
v5t -つ -tsu -とう -tō 待つ matsu (wait) 待とう matō
v5n -ぬ -nu -のう -nō 死ぬ shinu (die) 死のう shinō
v5b -ぶ -bu -ぼう -bō 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼ぼう yobō
v5m -む -mu -もう -mō 読む yomu (read) 読もう yomō
v5r -る -ru -ろう -rō 走る hashiru (run) 走ろう hashirō
v5r-i -る -ru -ろう -rō ある aru (be, exist) あろう arō
v1 -る -ru -よう -yō 着替える kigaeru (change clothes) 着替えよう kigaeyō
adj-i -い -i -かろう -karō 近い chikai (near) 近かろう chikakarō
adj-na -な -na -だろう -darō 好き suki (like) 好きだろう suki darō
adj-aux ない nai (negative) -なかろう -nakarō 見えない mienai (invisible) 見えなかろう mienakarō

Usage

In general, the volitional form expresses intention, such as in these cases:

  • In volitional ("let's" or "I shall") statements: 勉強しよう benkyō shiyō: "Let's study" or "I shall study".
  • To ask volitional ("shall we") questions: 行こうか ikō ka: "Shall (we) go?"
  • To express a conjecture with deshō: 明日晴れるでしょう ashita hareru deshō: "Tomorrow will probably be sunny."
  • To express what one is thinking of doing, via 思う omou: 買おうと思う kaō to omou: "(I) am thinking of buying (it)".
  • In the form しようとする shiyō to suru: be about to or be trying to. 犬が吠えようとしている Inu ga hoeyō to shite iru: "The dog is about to bark."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rita Lampkin (14 May 2010). Japanese Verbs & Essentials of Grammar, Third Edition. McGraw-Hill Education. pp. 14–40. ISBN 978-0-07-171363-4. 
  2. ^ EDICT abbreviation list: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/jmdict_dtd_h.html
  3. ^ Herr, John [1] Nihongo Web. University of Alabama. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
  4. ^ "‘問う’の過去形って何ですか - その他(学問&教育) - 教えて!goo" [What is the past tense of "tou"? - Other (Lit. & Edu.) - Tell Me! goo] (in Japanese). 2002-06-18. Retrieved 2011-01-19. しかし、hyeonさんのご指摘どおり、方言では現存しています。 大阪では 「買った→買うた(こうた)」 「合った→合うた(おうた)」 「言った→言うた(いうた)」 「揃った→揃うた(そろうた)」 「構った→構うた(かもうた)」 など、ワ行五段活用動詞+「た」の組み合わせだと、ウ音便化します。 
  5. ^ Eri BANNO et al. Genki—An Integrated Course In Elementary Japanese, volume 2. The Japan Times, 1999, p. 10

External links[edit]