Japanese verb conjugation

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Japanese verbs, like the verbs of many other languages, can be phonetically modified to change their purpose, nuance or meaning – a process known as conjugation. In Japanese, the beginning of a word (the stem) is preserved during conjugation, whilst the ending of the word is altered in some way to change the meaning (this is the inflectional suffix). Japanese verb conjugations are independent of person, number and gender (they do not depend on whether the subject is I, you, he, she, we, etc.); the conjugated forms can express meanings such as negation, present and past tense, volition, passive voice, causation, imperative and conditional mood, and ability. There are also special forms for conjunction with other verbs, and for combination with particles for additional meanings.

Japanese verbs have agglutinating properties: some of the conjugated forms are themselves conjugable verbs (or i-adjectives), which can result in several suffixes being strung together in a single verb form to express a combination of meanings.

A revision sheet visually summarizing the conjugations and uses described below

Verb groups[edit]

For Japanese verbs, the verb stem remains invariant among all conjugations. However, conjugation patterns vary according to a verb's category. For example, 知る (shiru) and 着る (kiru) belong to different verb categories (godan and ichidan, respectively) and therefore follow different conjugation patterns. As such, knowing a verb's category is essential for conjugating Japanese verbs.

Japanese verbs can be allocated into three categories:[1]

  1. Godan verbs (五段動詞, godan-dōshi, literally: "five‑row verbs"), also known as "Class‑5 verbs"
  2. Ichidan verbs (一段動詞, ichidan-dōshi, literally: "one‑row verbs"), also known as "Class‑1 verbs"
  3. Irregular verbs, most notably: する (suru, to do) and 来る (kuru, to come)

Verbs are conjugated from their "dictionary form", where the final kana is either removed or changed in some way.[1] From a technical standpoint, verbs usually require a specific conjugational stem (see § Verb bases, below) for any given inflection or suffix. With godan verbs, the conjugational stem can span all five rows of the gojūon kana table (hence, the classification as a class‑5 verb). Ichidan verbs are simpler to conjugate: the final kana, which is always (ru), is simply removed or replaced with the appropriate inflectional suffix. This means ichidan verb stems, in themselves, are valid conjugational stems which always end with the same kana (hence, the classification as a class‑1 verb).

This phenomenon can be observed by comparing conjugations of the two verb types, within the context of the gojūon table.[2]

Godan Form Godan Verb
読む (to read)
Gojūon table
'ma' column
Ichidan Form
Negative Polite Dictionary Potential Volitional
Negative ない
yomanai
(ma)
Polite ます
yomimasu
(mi) ない*
minai
ます*
mimasu
*
miru
られる*
mirareru
よう*
mi
Ichidan Verb
見る (to see)
Dictionary
(no conjugation)

yomu
(mu)
Potential
yomeru
(me) ない
tomenai
ます
tomemasu

tomeru
られる
tomerareru
よう
tome
Ichidan Verb
止める (to stop)
Volitional
yo
(mo)
* These forms are given here in hiragana for illustrative purposes; they would normally be written with kanji as 見ない, 見ます etc.

As visible above, the godan verb yomu (読む, to read) has a static verb stem, yo- (読〜), and a dynamic conjugational stem which changes depending on the purpose: yoma- (, row 1), yomi- (, row 2), yomu (, row 3), yome- (, row 4) and yomo- (, row 5). Unlike godan verb stems, ichidan verb stems are also functional conjugational stems, with the final kana of the stem remaining static in all conjugations.

Verb bases[edit]

Conjugable words (verbs, i‑adjectives, and na‑adjectives) are traditionally considered to have six possible conjugational stems or bases (活用形, katsuyōkei, literally "conjugation forms") .[3] However, as a result of the language evolving,[4][5] historical sound shifts,[6][7] and the post‑WWII spelling reforms,[8] three additional sub‑bases have emerged for verbs (seen in the table below as the Potential, Volitional, and Euphonic bases). Meanwhile, verbs no longer differentiate between the terminal form (終止形, shūshikei, used to terminate a predicate) and the attributive form (連体形, rentaikei, used to modify a noun or noun phrase) bases (these bases are only distinguished for na‑adjectives in the modern language, see Japanese adjectives).[9][10] Verb bases function as the necessary stem forms to which inflectional suffixes attach.

Verbs are named and listed in dictionaries according to their "dictionary form" (辞書形, jishokei). This is also called the "plain form" (since this is the plain, non‑polite, non‑past conjugation), and it is the same as the modern "terminal form" (終止形, shūshikei), and the "attributive form" (連体形, rentaikei).[2] The verb group (godan, ichidan, or irregular) determines how to derive any given conjugation base for the verb. With godan verbs, the base is derived by shifting the final kana along the respective vowel row of the gojūon kana table. With ichidan verbs, the base is derived by removing or replacing the final (ru) kana.[2]

The table below illustrates the various verb bases across the verb groups, with the patterns starting from the dictionary form.[11]

Verb base formation table
Verb base Godan Ichidan Irregular Usage
言う (to say) 作る (to make) 見る (to see) 始める (to begin) 来る (to come) する (to do)
Shūshikei base [9] No changes No changes No changes Imperfective form
(終止形, Terminal) 言う iu 作る tsukuru 見る miru 始める hajimeru くる kuru する suru
Rentaikei base [9]
(連体形, Attributive)
Kateikei base [12] Shift the 〜〇 kana to the  row Remove [i] Conditional form
(仮定形, Hypothetical) 言え ie 作れ tsukure mi 始め hajime くれ kure すれ sure
Kanōkei base [4][5] Shift the 〜〇 kana to the  row ( ko) (できる dekiru) Potential form
(可能形, Potential) 言え ie 作れ tsukure
Meireikei base [13] Shift the 〜〇 kana to the  row Remove [ii] [ii] Imperative form
(命令形, Imperative) 言え ie 作れ tsukure mi
(見ろ miro)
始め hajime
(始めろ hajimero)
こい koi しろ shiro
せよ seyo
Mizenkei base [14] Shift the 〜〇 kana to the  row Remove [v] Negative form
Passive form
Causative form
(未然形, Irrealis) [iii] 言わ iwa [iv] 作ら tsukura mi 始め hajime ko sa shi se
Ishikei base [15] Shift the 〜〇 kana to the  row shi Volitional form
(意志形, Volitional) 言お io 作ろ tsukuro
Ren'yōkei base [16] Shift the 〜〇 kana to the  row Remove Conjunctive form
(連用形, Conjunctive) 言い ii 作り tsukuri mi 始め hajime ki shi
Onbinkei base [17] Remove the 〜〇 kana Perfective form
te form
(音便形, Euphonic) i tsuku
[i] The verb 来る (kuru) has no dedicated kanōkei base. Instead, the passive form 来られる (korareru) is used to express the potential sense. する lacks a kanōkei base; instead, the suppletive ichidan verb できる (dekiru) is used as the potential form of する.[2][18] See also the § Passive: Conjugation table section below.
[ii] 〜ろ (-ro) is used for the spoken imperative form, while 〜よ (-yo) is used for the written imperative form.[19]
[iii] The meaning of the term 未然形 (mizenkei, irrealis) originates from its archaic usage with the conditional 〜ば (-ba) suffix in Old Japanese and Classical Japanese.[20] The conjugated forms in the modern language, such as the passive and causative forms, do not invoke an irrealis mood, but the term mizenkei was retained.
[iv] The mizenkei base for verbs ending in 〜う (-u) appears to be an exceptional case with the unexpected 〜わ (-wa). This realization of -wa is a leftover from past sound changes, an artifact preserved from the archaic Japanese -fu from -pu verbs (which would have yielded, regularly, -wa from -fa from -pa). This is noted with historical kana orthography in dictionaries; for example, 言う (iu) from 言ふ (ifu) from ipu and 言わぬ (iwanu) from 言はぬ (ifanu) (from ipanu).[21] In modern Japanese, original instances of mid‑word consonant [w] have since been dropped before all vowels except [a].[21][22][23] (For more on this shift in consonants, see Old Japanese § Consonants, Early Middle Japanese § Consonants, and Late Middle Japanese § /h/ and /p/.)
[v] There are three mizenkei bases for the verb する (suru), depending on the resulting conjugated form: (sa) for passive and causative forms, (shi) for the negative and volitional forms, and (se) for the negative continuous form.[24]

Of the nine verb bases, the shūshikei/rentaikei, meireikei, and ren'yōkei bases can be considered fully conjugated forms without needing to append inflectional suffixes. In particular, the shūshikei/rentaikei and meireikei bases do not conjugate with any inflectional suffixes. By contrast, a verb cannot be considered fully conjugated in its kateikei, mizenkei, izenkei, kanōkei, or onbinkei base alone; a compatible inflectional suffix is required for that verb construction to be grammatical.[25]

Certain inflectional suffixes, in themselves, take on the form of verbs or i‑adjectives. These suffixes can then be further conjugated by adopting one of the verb bases, followed by the attachment of the appropriate suffix. The agglutinative nature of Japanese verb conjugation can thus make the final form of a given verb conjugation quite long. For example, the word 食べさせられたくなかった (tabesaseraretakunakatta) is broken down into its component morphemes below:

食べさせられたくなかった (tabesaseraretakunakatta, "did not want to be made to eat")
食べ (tabe) させ (sase) られ (rare) たく (taku) なかっ (naka'-) (ta)
Mizenkei base of
食べる (taberu)
Mizenkei base of the
させる (saseru) causative suffix
Ren'yōkei base of the
られる (rareru) passive suffix
Ren'yōkei base of the
たい (tai) desiderative suffix
Past‑tense ren'yōkei base of the
ない (nai) negation suffix
Inflectional suffix
(ta), marking past tense
"to eat" (Verb stem) Causative voice: "to make someone do" Passive voice: "to be done" Desiderative mood: "wanting to do something" Negation: "not", negates whatever came before Perfective aspect: indicates completion or past tense

Derivative verb bases[edit]

There are three modern verb base forms that are considered to be derived from older forms. These are the potential, volitional, and euphonic sub‑bases, as shown in the Verb base formation table above.

As with all languages, the Japanese language has evolved to fulfil the contemporary needs of communication. The potential form of verbs is one such example. In Old Japanese and Early Middle Japanese, potential was expressed with the verb ending (yu), which was also used to express the passive voice ("to be done") and the spontaneous voice ("something happens on its own"). This evolved into the modern passive ending (ら)れる (-(ra)reru), which can similarly express potential and spontaneous senses. As usage patterns changed over time, different kinds of potential constructions emerged, such as the grammatical pattern of the rentaikei base + -koto ga dekiru (〜ことができる), and also via the kanōkei base.[4] The historical development of the kanōkei base is disputed, however the consensus is that it stemmed from a shift wherein transitive verbs developed an intransitive sense similar to the spontaneous, passive, and potential, and these intransitive forms conjugated in the 下二段活用 (shimo nidan katsuyō, lower bigrade conjugation pattern) of the Classical Japanese of the time.[5] The lower bigrade conjugation pattern evolved into the modern ichidan pattern in modern Japanese, and these stems for godan verbs have the same form as the hypothetical stems in the table above.

The mizenkei base that ends with -a was also used to express the volitional mood for yodan verbs (四段動詞, yodan-dōshi, "Class‑4 verbs") in Old Japanese and Middle Japanese, in combination with volitional suffix (-mu). Sound changes caused the resulting -amu ending to change: /-amu//-ãu//-au/ (like English "ow") → /-ɔː/ (like English "aw") → /-oː/. The post‑WWII spelling reforms updated spellings to reflect this and other sound changes, resulting in the addition of the ishikei or volitional base, ending with -o, for the volitional mood of yodan verbs. This also resulted in a reclassification of "yodan verbs" to "godan verbs" (五段動詞, godan-dōshi, "Class‑5 verbs").[8][15]

The ren'yōkei base also underwent various euphonic changes specific to the perfective and conjunctive (te) forms for certain verb stems,[26][6][7] giving rise to the onbinkei or euphonic base.[17] In the onbinkei base, the inflectional suffixes for godan verbs vary according to the last kana of the verb's ren'yōkei base.[2]

Copula: da and desu[edit]

There is a special case of (da) and です (desu) in Japanese that is loosely translated as the English copula "to be". They are generally used to predicate sentences, equate one thing with another (i.e. "A is B."), or express a self‑directed thought (e.g. a sudden emotion or realization).[27]

Copula example sentences
English Japanese Function
It is a book. です (hon desu) predicate
The weather was awful. 天気が大変でした (tenki ga taihen deshita) copula, A is B
Ah! A cockroach! うぎゃあ!ゴキブリ (ugyā! gokiburi da!) self‑directed

Copula: Conjugation table[edit]

These copulae aren't standard 'verbs' and their conjugations are limited to a smaller subset of functions. Furthermore, they conjugate according to their own specific patterns:[10]

Dictionary form
(no conjugation)
Negative
(colloquial)
Negative
(formal)
Perfective
(past tense)
te form Conditional Conjecture
(probably)

da
じゃない
ja nai [i]
ではない
de wa nai
った
datta

de
 なら(ば)
 nara (ba)
(だろう)
(da) [ii]
です
desu
じゃありません
ja arimasen [i]
はありません
de wa arimasen
した
deshita
あれば
deare ba
(でしょう)
(deshō) [ii]
[i] じゃ (ja) is a colloquial abbreviation of では (de wa).[10]
[ii] Although だろう (darō) and でしょう (deshō) were originally conjugations of (da) and です (desu) respectively, they are now also used as auxiliary verbs.[28]

Copula: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

The negative forms, じゃない (ja nai) and ではない (de wa nai), are compatible with all negative tense conjugations (such as the negative past tense or the negative -te form).[10] However, the です negative forms, じゃありません (ja arimasen) and ではありません (de wa arimasen), are conjugated into the past tense by appending でした (deshita) as a suffix (and are therefore incompatible with subsequent 〜ない (-nai) conjugations).[10] Furthermore, the perfective forms, だった (datta) and でした (deshita), are compatible with the ~tara conditional.[29]

Imperfective[edit]

The imperfective form (also known as the "non‑past", "plain form", "short form", "dictionary form" and the "attributive form") is broadly equivalent to the present and future tenses of English. In Japanese, the imperfective form is used as the headword or lemma. It is used to express actions that are assumed to continue into the future, habits or future intentions.[30]

Imperfective form example sentences
English Japanese Function
(Do you eat sushi?)
Yes, I eat sushi.
(寿司を食べる?) (sushi o taberu?)
うん、寿司を食べる (un, sushi o taberu)
assumption to continue action
I go shopping every weekend. 毎週末買い物する (mai shūmatsu kaimono suru) habit / reoccurring action
I will study tomorrow. 明日勉強する (ashita benkyō suru) future intention

The imperfective form cannot be used to make a progressive continuous statement, such as in the English sentence "I am shopping". To do so, the verb must first be conjugated into its te form and attached to the いる (iru) auxiliary verb (see § te form: Grammatical compatibility, below).

Imperfective: Conjugation table[edit]

The imperfective form uses the shūshikei/rentaikei base, and is thus equivalent to the dictionary form.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Imperfect form
Godan verbs No change
作る (tsukuru, make) 作る (tsukuru, make)
言う (iu, say) 言う (iu, say)
持つ (motsu, carry) 持つ (motsu, carry)
探す (sagasu, look for) 探す (sagasu, look for)
Ichidan verbs No change
見る (miru, see) 見る (miru, see)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始める (hajimeru, begin)
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) 来る (kuru, come)
する (suru, do) する (suru, do)
Special conjugations
〜ます (-masu) 〜ます (-masu)

Imperfective: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

The imperfective form can be used to issue prohibitive commands by attaching 〜な (-na).[31] For example, 入る (hairu na!, "Do not enter!"). Additionally, the imperfective form is compatible with the nominalizers 〜の (-no) and 〜こと (-koto), which repurpose the verb as a noun. For example, カラオケで歌うのは楽しい! (karaoke de utau no wa tanoshii!, Singing at karaoke is fun!).

Negative[edit]

The negative form is broadly equivalent to the English word "not".[30]

Negative form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I don't drink alcohol. お酒は飲まない (osake wa nomanai) assumption to continue inaction
I won't brush my teeth. 歯を磨かない (ha o migakanai) immediate inaction
I won't work tomorrow. 明日働かない (ashita hatarakanai) future inaction

Negative: Conjugation table[edit]

The negative form is created by using the mizenkei base, followed by the ない (nai) suffix.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Negative form
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row, then add ない
作る (tsukuru, make) + ない 作らない (tsukuranai, not make)
言う (iu, say) [i] + ない 言わない (iwanai, not say)
持つ (motsu, carry) + ない 持たない (motanai, not carry)
探す (sagasu, look for) + ない 探さない (sagasanai, not look for)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add ない
見る (miru, see) + ない 見ない (minai, not see)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め + ない 始めない (hajimenai, not begin)
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) + ない こない (konai, not come)
する (suru, do) + ない しない (shinai, not do)
Special conjugations
〜ます (-masu) 〜ま +  〜ません (-masen, not) [ii]
Special exceptions
ある (aru, exist) ある + ない ない (nai, not exist)
[i] For godan verbs ending in 〜う (-u), the "" changes to "わ" (wa) in the negative conjugation. It does not change to "あ" (a).
[ii] The negative past form of 〜ます is 〜ませんでした (-masen deshita, did not).[2]

Negative: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

The negative form is compatible with the ~で (-de) particle for additional functions, such as requesting someone to cease/desist or joining a subordinate clause.

It is also compatible with i‑adjectives inflections, since the ~ない (-nai) suffix ends with ~い (-i).

Negative form: Grammatical compatibility example sentences
English Japanese Function
Please don't eat it. 食べない下さい (tabenai de kudasai) request to cease/desist
Without eating, I went to bed. 食べない、寝た (tabenai de, neta) add a subordinate clause
I didn't talk. 話さなかった (hanasanakatta) i‑adjective inflection
(example: negative past tense)

Negative continuous[edit]

The negative continuous form is created by using the mizenkei base, followed by the 〜ず (zu) suffix; equivalent to replacing 〜ない (-nai) with 〜ず (-zu) in the table above. An exception is する (suru, to do), which instead conjugates as せず (sezu, not doing). In this form, the negative continuous cannot terminate a sentence. The verb has the "negative continuous tense" unless followed by the (ni) particle, where its meaning changes to "without". The -zuni form (〜ずに, without doing) is semantically interchangeable with -naide (〜ないで, without doing), however -zuni is only used in written Japanese or formal speech.[32][33]

Negative continuous form example sentences
English Japanese Function
While not eating breakfast, I went to work. 朝ごはんを食べず、仕事へ行った (asa gohan o tabezu, shigoto e itta) negative continuous
I went to work without eating breakfast. 朝ごはんを食べずに仕事へ行った (asa gohan o tabezu ni shigoto e itta) without doing

Perfective[edit]

The perfective form (過去形完了形, kakokei / kanryōkei, also known as the "ta form", "past tense" and the "perfect tense") is equivalent to the English "past tense".[34]

Perfective form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I went to Japan. 日本に行った (nihon ni itta) past tense
I practiced piano every day. 毎日ピアノの練習した (mainichi piano no renshū shita) continuous past

Perfective: Conjugation table[edit]

The perfective form is created by using the onbinkei base, followed by the た・だ (ta/da) suffix. This conjugation pattern is more complex compared to other conjugations because the exact realization of the inflectional suffix—particularly in godan verbs—is based on the euphony (音便, onbin) of the verb stem. (See also: Euphonic changes)

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Perfective form
Godan verbs Various suffix-specific patterns
作る (tsukuru, make) + った 作った (tsukutta, made)
言う (iu, say) + った 言った (itta, said)
持つ (motsu, carry) + った 持った (motta, carried)
探す (sagasu, look for) した 探した (sagashita, looked for)
置く (oku, put) + いた 置いた (oita, had put)
泳ぐ (oyogu, swim) + いだ 泳いだ (oyoida, swam)
呼ぶ (yobu, summon) + んだ 呼んだ (yonda, summoned)
休む (yasumu, rest) + んだ 休んだ (yasunda, rested)
死ぬ (shinu, die) [i] + んだ 死んだ (shinda, died)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add
見る (miru, see) +  見た (mita, saw)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め +  始めた (hajimeta, began)
Irregular verbs Shift the 〇〜 kana to the row, remove then add
来る (kuru, come) +  きた (kita, came)
する (suru, do) +  した (shita, did it)
Special conjugations
〜ます (-masu) 〜ま +  〜ました (-mashita, did) [ii]
〜ない (-nai, not) 〜な + かった 〜なかった (-nakatta, did not)
Special exceptions
行く (iku, go) + った 行った (itta, went)
問う (tou, ask/blame) 問う +  問うた (touta, asked/blamed)
請う (kou, beg) 請う +  請うた (kouta, begged)
[i] 死ぬ (shinu, to die) is the only verb with the (nu) suffix, in the entire Japanese vocabulary.
[ii] The negative perfective form of 〜ます is 〜ませんでした (-masen deshita, did not).[2]

Perfective: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

The perfective form is compatible with:

  • The "tari form" (or "tari‑tari form", also known as the "tari‑tari‑suru form"), to describe a non‑exhaustive list of actions (similar to AやB describes a non‑exhaustive lists of objects). It uses (ri) as the subordinate conjunction.[35][36]
  • The "tara form" (or "past conditional"), to describe events that will happen as a result of completing something. It uses (ra) as the subordinate conjunction.[37][29]
    • It can be used to mean "if" or "when";
    • It can also be used to reveal an unexpected outcome that happened in the past.
Perfective form: Grammatical compatibility example sentences
English Japanese Function
I read a book, watched TV, etc. 本を読んだり、テレビを見たりした (hon o yondari, terebi o mitari shita) non‑exhaustive list of actions
If I go to Japan, I want to see Mount Fuji. 日本に行ったら、富士山が見たい (nihon ni ittara, fuji san ga mitai) if or when
When I went to the cafe, I came across Suzuki. カフェに行ったら、鈴木さんに出会った (kafe ni ittara, Suzuki-san ni deatta) unexpected past outcome

te form[edit]

The te form (て形, tekei) allows verbs to function like conjunctions. Similar to the word "and" in English, the te form connects clauses to make longer sentences. Conversely, as a sentence terminal, it functions as a casual instruction (like a gentle imperative command). Finally, the te form attaches to a myriad of auxiliary verbs for various purposes.[38][39]

te form example sentences
English Japanese Function
(I will eat breakfast. I will go to school.)
I will eat breakfast and go to school.
朝ごはんを食べる。学校に行く。 (asagohan o taberu. gakkō ni iku.)
朝ごはんを食べ学校に行く (asagohan o tabete gakkō ni iku)
conjunction
Please eat. 食べ (tabete) gentle instruction
I am waiting. 待っている (matte iru) auxiliary verb
(example: present-continuous)

There are limitations where the te form cannot be used to conjugate between pairs of verbs (such as when two verbs are unrelated) and the conjunctive form is used instead.[40] (see § Conjunctive form vs te form, below)

te form: Conjugation table[edit]

The te form is created by using the onbinkei base, followed by the て・で (te/de) suffix. Just like the perfective form, this conjugation pattern is more complex compared to other conjugations because the exact realization of the inflectional suffix—particularly in godan verbs—is based on the euphony (音便, onbin) of the verb stem. (See also: Euphonic changes)

Dictionary form Pattern [2] te form
Godan verbs Various suffix-specific patterns
作る (tsukuru, make) + って 作って (tsukutte, make and)
言う (iu, say) + って 言って (itte, say and)
持つ (motsu, carry) + って 持って (motte, carry and)
探す (sagasu, look for) して 探して (sagashite, look for and)
置く (oku, put) + いて 置いて (oite, put and)
泳ぐ (oyogu, swim) + いで 泳いで (oyoide, swim and)
呼ぶ (yobu, summon) + んで 呼んで (yonde, summon and)
休む (yasumu, rest) + んで 休んで (yasunde, rest and)
死ぬ (shinu, die) [i] + んで 死んで (shinde, die and)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add
見る (miru, see) +  見て (mite, see and)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め +  始めて (hajimete, begin and)
Irregular verbs Shift the 〇〜 kana to the row, remove then add
来る (kuru, come) +  きて (kite, come and)
する (suru, do) +  して (shite, do it and)
Special conjugations
〜ます (-masu) 〜ま +  〜まして (-mashite, and)
〜ない (-nai, not) [ii] 〜ない +  〜ないで (-naide, without and)[iii]
〜な + くて 〜なくて (-nakute, not and)[iv]
Special exceptions
行く (iku, go) + って 行って (itte, go and)
問う (tou, ask/blame) 問う +  問うて (toute, ask/blame and)
請う (kou, beg) 請う +  請うて (koute, beg and)
[i] 死ぬ (shinu, to die) is the only verb with the (nu) suffix, in the entire Japanese vocabulary.
[ii] This conjugation is not reciprocated in the perfective form; the past tense of ない (-nai) is なかった (-nakatta, was not).
[iii] The 〜ないで (-nai de) form is only grammatical with verbs. It is used to emphasize negation, or otherwise used as an imperative if an auxiliary follows, e.g. 〜ないで下さい (-nai de kudasai, Please don't…).[32]
[iv] The 〜なくて (-nakute) form is grammatical with adjectives and copula, but also with verbs when expressing a consequential human emotion or contradiction.[32]

te form: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

The te form is compatible with particles for additional functions, such as giving permission or expressing prohibition.[41][39]

te form: Particle example sentences
English Japanese Function
It's okay to eat here. ここで食べてもいい (koko de tabete mo ii) permission
You must not eat here. ここで食べてはいけない (koko de tabete wa ikenai) prohibition

The te form is also compatible with an extensive list of auxiliary verbs. These auxiliary verbs are attached after the 〜て.[42]

te form: Auxiliary verb example sentences
Aux. English Japanese Function
〜いる I'm carrying the bag. 鞄を持っている (kaban o motte iru) [v] continuous action
〜ある Some Arabic letters are written here. ここにアラビア文字が書いてある (koko ni arabia moji ga kaite aru) completed and remains to be
〜おく I'll make a sandwich for later. サンドイッチを作っておく (sandoitchi o tsukutte oku) [vi] prepare for future
〜みる I'll try to climb Mount Everest. エベレスト山に上ってみる (eberesuto yama ni nobotte miru) attempt
〜しまう (I ate.)
I finished eating.
(食べ) (tabeta)
食べてしまった (tabete shimatta)
emphasize completion
*ちゃう I accidentally forgot my smartphone! スマホ忘れちゃった (sumaho wasure chatta!) [vii] accident/regret
[v] Colloquially, the (i) is dropped. For example, 持って (motte iru) becomes 持ってる (motte ru).
[vi] Colloquially, てお〜 (te o-) undergoes morpheme fusion, becoming と〜 (to-). For example, 作ってお (tsukutte oku) becomes 作っ (tsukuttoku).
[vii] In this case, is dropped rather than being attached to ちゃう. This is because ちゃ (chau) is a morpheme fusion of ちま (chimau), which itself is a morpheme fusion of しまう (te shimau). Similarly, (de) is also dropped when attaching to じゃう (jau) and じまう (jimau), which are the morpheme fusions of しまう (de shimau).

Finally, the te form is necessary for making polite requests with 下さる (kudasaru) and くれる (kureru). These honorific words are attached with their imperative forms 〜下さい (-kudasai) and 〜くれ (-kure), which is more socially proper than using the true imperative.[43][42]

te form: Request example sentences
English Japanese Function
Please lend me the book. 本を貸して下さい (hon o kashite kudasai) polite request
Will you lend me the book? 本を貸してくれ (hon o kashite kure?) plain request

te form: Advanced usage[edit]

During speech, the speaker may terminate a sentence in the te form but slightly lengthen the vowel sound as a natural pause: てぇ (te…). Similar to when a sentence ends with "so…" in English, this serves as a social cue that can:

  • give the listener a moment to process;
  • indicate the speaker isn't finished speaking;
  • seek permission from the listener to continue;
  • imply that the listener should infer the remainder of the sentence.

Another usage of the te form is, just as with English, the order of clauses may be reversed to create emphasis. However, unlike in English, the sentence will terminate on the te form (rather than between clauses).

te form: Advanced usage example sentences
English Japanese Function
I'll go to the pharmacy and buy medicine." 薬局へ行っ薬を買う (yakkyoku e itte kusuri o kau) typical conjunction
I'll buy medicine, by going to the pharmacy 薬を買う、薬局へ行って (kusuri o kau, yakkyoku e itte) reversed conjunction

Conjunctive[edit]

The conjunctive form (also known as the "stem form", "masu form", "i form" and the "continuative form")[44] functions like an intermediate conjugation; it requires an auxiliary verb to be attached since the conjunctive form is rarely used in isolation. It can also function to link separate clauses (hence the name "conjunctive") in a similar way to the te form above; however usage of the conjunctive form as a conjunction has restrictions. The conjunctive form can function as a gerund (a verb functioning as a noun) without the need for nominalizers, although permissible use cases are limited.[45][40][46][47]

Conjunctive form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I'll meet the customer. お客様に会います (okyakusama ni aimasu) polite language
I want to win the game. 試合に勝ちたい (shiai ni kachitai) auxiliary verb
(example: desire)
I'll go to see a movie. 映画を見に行く (eiga o mi ni iku) particle
(example: purpose)
We're about to change trains.
Don't forget your shopping!
まもなく列車を乗り換えるよ。 (mamonaku ressha o norikaeru yo.)
買い物を忘れるな! (kaimono o wasureru na!)
compound words

Conjunctive: Conjugation table[edit]

The conjunctive form uses the ren'yōkei base. It is one of the simplest conjugation patterns due to its lack of irregular conjugations. It does have an additional case for certain honorific verbs, but even those follow a consistent conjugation pattern.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Conjunctive form [i]
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row
作る (tsukuru, make) 作り (tsukuri, making)
言う (iu, say) 言い (ii, saying)
持つ (motsu, carry) 持ち (mochi, carrying)
探す (sagasu, look for) 探し (sagashi, looking for)
Ichidan verbs Remove
見る (miru, see) (mi, seeing)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め 始め (hajime, beginning)
Irregular verbs Shift the 〇〜 kana to the row, then remove
来る (kuru, come) (ki, coming)
する (suru, do) (shi, doing)
Honorific verbs Remove then add
下さる (kudasaru, give) [ii] 下さ 下さい (kudasai, giving)
[i] The English translations use the "-ing" suffix for nominalization. Therefore, they are nouns, not present continuous verbs.
[ii] Other honorific words, such as ござる (gozaru, to be), いらっしゃる (irassharu, to come/go) and なさる (nasaru, to do), also conjugate with this pattern.[2]

Conjunctive: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

The conjunctive form is compatible with particles for additional functions, such as expressing purpose or a firm avoidance.[48]

Conjunctive form: Particle example sentences
English Japanese Function
I'll go to Hiroshima to see the Itsukushima shrine. 厳島神社を見に広島へ行く (itsukushima jinja o mi ni hiroshima e iku) purpose
I don't eat meat. 肉を食べはしない (niku o tabe wa shinai) firm avoidance

The conjunctive form is also compatible with an extensive list of auxiliary verbs.[45] One of which, ます (masu), has highly irregular inflections.[49][50][51]

Conjunctive form: Auxiliary verb example sentences
Aux. English Japanese Function
〜ます I'll write a letter. 手紙を書きます (tegami o kakimasu) polite language
〜たい I want to buy a new computer. 新しいパソコンを買いたい (atarashii pasokon o kai tai) desire
〜易い It's easy to learn mathematics. 数学が学び易い (sūgaku ga manabi yasui) easy to do
〜難い It's hard to understand classical literature. 古典文学が分かり難い (koten bungaku ga wakari nikui) difficult to do
〜過ぎる I drink too much alcohol. お酒を飲み過ぎる (o sake o nomi sugiru) excessiveness
〜ながら I'll drink coffee while walking to the station. 駅に歩きながらコーヒーを飲む (eki ni aruki nagara kōhii o nomu) simultaneous action
〜なさい Write your name here. ここに名前を書きなさい (koko ni namae o kaki nasai) polite imperative

Conjunctive: Advanced usage[edit]

The conjunctive form, like the te form, connects clauses in a similar way to how "and" does in English. However, the conjunctive and te forms are not usually interchangeable, and each form fulfills specific grammatical purposes. When a pair of verbs have a strong connection in context, only the te form can bridge them. When a pair of verbs are not directly related but happen during a shared period of time, only the conjunctive form can bridge them. Furthermore, if a pair of verbs are both controllable or uncontrollable in nature, the te form must bridge them; otherwise, when a verb is controllable whilst the other verb is uncontrollable, the conjunctive form must bridge them. Finally, the te and conjunctive forms are interchangeable if additional information is included between the verbs.[40][39]

Conjunctive: Conjunctive form vs te form
Permissible English Japanese Relationship between verbs
te form I'll go to the department store and do some shopping. デパートへ行って買い物をする
depāto e itte, kaimono o suru
closely related
te form I'll meet my friend and ask about their holiday. 友達に会って、休みのことを尋ねる
tomodachi ni atte, yasumi no koto o tazuneru
both controllable
te form The ground shook so much in the earthquake that I couldn't stand up. 地震で地面がすごく揺れて立たなかった
jishin de jimen ga sugoku yurete, tatanakatta
both uncontrollable
Interchangeable Can you open the fridge and get me the carrots from the lower right shelf? 冷蔵庫を開けて、下の棚の右に人参が取ってくれない?
reizōko o akete, shita no tana no migi ni ninjin ga totte kurenai?
additional information
between them
冷蔵庫を開け、下の棚の右に人参が取ってくれない?
reizōko o ake, shita no tana no migi ni ninjin ga totte kurenai?
Conjunctive form They were born in Japan and studied at a Japanese school. 彼らは日本で生まれ、日本の学校で勉強した
karera wa nihon de umare, nihon no gakkō de benkyō shita
unrelated
(birth is unrelated to studying)
Conjunctive form It rained, so I used an umbrella. 雨が降り、傘を使った
ame ga furi, kasa o tsukatta
uncontrollable + controllable

In the case where the conjunctive form is interchangeable with the te form, there is a stylistic means where the conjunctive form is preferred. This avoids 「て…て…て…」 (te…te…te…) repetition, much like how English users might avoid saying "and…and…and…". In practice however, such a strategy is more readily accustomed to writing and more difficult to control in spoken conversation (where the te form is usually elected for every verb).[40]

Another common usage is to form compound words, specifically compound nouns and compound verbs. As for compound nouns, the conjunctive form attaches as a prefix to another noun. Compound verbs are formed in the same way, except the conjunctive form attaches to the imperfective form. This pattern can be used to express mutuality if a transitive verb attaches to 〜合う (-au, to unite).[52]

Conjunctive form: Compound word examples
Verb [conjunctive form] + Noun/Verb [imperfective form] Compound Literal translation Dynamic translation Function
食べ (tabe, eating) (mono, thing) 食べ物 (tabe mono) "eating thing" food compound noun
切り (kiri, cutting) 離す (hanasu, to separate) 切り離す (kiri hanasu) "cutting and separating" to cut off compound verb
誓い (chikai, promise) 合う (au, to unite) 誓い合う (chikai au) "promising and uniting" to promise each other mutual verb

The conjunctive form is also used in formal honorifics, such as お使い下さい (o tsukai kudasai, "Please use this.").

Volitional[edit]

The volitional form (also known as the "conjectural form", "tentative form", "presumptive form" and the "hortative form") is used to express speaker's will or intention (volitional), make an inclusive command or invitation (hortative or persuasive)[53] or to make a guess or supposition (presumptive).

Volitional form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I will put off this task for later. その仕事は後回しにしよう (sono shigoto wa atomawashi ni shi)[54] personal volition
Let's go home! ろう (kae!) inclusive command
Shall we eat outside? 外で食べようか (soto de tabeyō ka?) inclusive invitation
There will probably be many objections at the meeting. 会議では多くの反論が出されよう (kaigi de wa ōku no hanron ga dasare)[54] making a guess or supposition

Volitional: Conjugation table[edit]

The volitional form is created by using the ishikei base, followed by the う・よう (u/yō) suffix. Phonetically, う is surfaced as (o) in volitional form, unlike う in dictionary/imperfective form; for example, 問う (tou, to ask) and 問おう (toō, let's ask).

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Volitional form
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row, then add
作る (tsukuru, make) +  作ろう (tsukurō, let's make)
言う (iu, say) +  言おう (, let's say)
持つ (motsu, carry) +  持とう (motō, let's carry)
探す (sagasu, look for) +  探そう (sagasō, let's look for)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add よう
見る (miru, see) + よう 見よう (miyō, let's see)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め + よう 始めよう (hajimeyō, let's begin)
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) + よう こよう (koyō, let's come back)
する (suru, do) + よう しよう (shiyō, let's do it)
Special conjugations
〜ます (-masu) 〜ましょ +  〜ましょう (-mashō, let's)
〜ない (-nai, not) かろ +  〜なかろう (-nakarō, perhaps not exist)
Honorific verbs Change to then add
Honorific verbs [i] +  〜ろう (-rō, let's)
Special exceptions
ある (aru, exist) [i] +  あろう (arō, probably exist)
[i] Theoretical conjugation only; it's unnatural and not usually used.[2]

Volitional: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

The volitional form is also used to describe intention 〜と思う (-to omou)[55] an attempt 〜とする (-to suru) or an imminent action 〜としている (-to shite iru).[56]

Volitional form: Particle example sentences
English Japanese Function
I think I'm going to make a salad. サラダを作ろうと思う (sarada o tsukurō to omou) intention
I'll try to go to bed early. 早く寝ようとする (hayaku neyō to suru) attempt
The dog is about to bark. 犬が吠えようとしている (inu ga hoeyō to shite iru) imminent action

Passive[edit]

The passive form (受身形, ukemikei) refocuses the verb as the target objective of a sentence; it emphasizes the action as the detail of importance. Although a sentence can include a specific subject enacting the passive verb, the subject is not required.[57] The passive voice can nuance neutrality, a regrettable action (suffering passive) or a means of being respectful.[58]

Passive form example sentences
English Japanese Function
This TV was made by Toshiba. このテレビは東芝によって作られた (kono terebi wa Toshiba ni yotte tsukurareta) neutrality
My beer was drunk by a friend. 私は友達にビールを飲まれた (watashi wa tomodachi ni biiru o nomareta) regrettable action
Where are you going? どちらへ行かれますか (dochira e ikaremasu ka) respectful language

Passive: Conjugation table[edit]

The passive form is created by using the mizenkei base, followed by the れる・られる (reru/rareru) suffix. For ichidan verbs and 来る (kuru), the passive form and the potential form have an identical conjugation pattern with the same られる (rareru) suffix. This makes it impossible to distinguish whether an ichidan verb adopts a passive or potential function without contextual information.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Passive form
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row, then add れる
作る (tsukuru, make) + れる 作られる (tsukurareru, be made)
言う (iu, say) [i] + れる 言われる (iwareru, be said)
持つ (motsu, carry) + れる 持たれる (motareru, be carried)
探す (sagasu, look for) + れる 探される (sagasareru, be looked for)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add られる
見る (miru, see) + られる 見られる (mirareru, be seen)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め + られる 始められる (hajimerareru, have began)
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) + られる こられる (korareru, have come)
する (suru, do) + れる される (sareru, be done)
Honorific verbs Change to then add れる
Honorific verbs [ii] + れる 〜られる (-rareru, be done)
Special exceptions
ある (aru, exist) Does not conjugate.[2]
[i] For godan verbs ending in 〜う (-u), the "" changes to "わ" (wa) in the passive conjugation. It does not change to "あ" (a).[58]
[ii] Theoretical conjugation only; it's unnatural and not usually used.[2]

Passive: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

After conjugating into the passive form, the verbs become ichidan verbs. They can therefore be further conjugated according to any ichidan pattern. For instance, a passive verb (e.g. 言われる (iwareru, be said)) can conjugate using the ichidan pattern for the te form (て形, te kei) to join sequential statements (言われて (iwarete)), or the conjunctive form to append the polite -masu (〜ます) auxiliary verb (言われます (iwaremasu)).

Causative[edit]

The causative form (使役形, shiekikei) is used to express that a subject was forced or allowed to do something.[59]

Causative form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I make them work hard. 頑張らせる (ganbaraseru) forced to
I let them play outside. 外で遊ばせる (soto de asobaseru) allowed to
The baseball coach made the players exercise. 野球のコーチは選手達に運動させた (yakyū no kōchi wa senshu tachi ni undō saseta)[i] forced to by
[i] The director causing the action can be specified with the (wa) or (ga) particle, whilst the people forced to do the action are specified with the (ni) particle.[59]

Causative: Conjugation table[edit]

The causative form is created by using the mizenkei base, followed by the せる・させる (seru/saseru) suffix.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Causative form [ii]
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row, then add せる
作る (tsukuru, make) + せる 作らせる (tsukuraseru, caused to make)
言う (iu, say) [iii] + せる 言わせる (iwaseru, caused to say)
持つ (motsu, carry) + せる 持たせる (motaseru, caused to carry)
探す (sagasu, look for) + せる 探させる (sagasaseru, caused to look for)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add させる
見る (miru, see) + させる 見させる (misaseru, caused to see)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め + させる 始めさせる (hajimesaseru, caused to begin)
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) + させる こさせる (kosaseru, caused to come)
する (suru, do) + せる させる (saseru, caused to do)
Honorific verbs Change to then add せる
Honorific verbs [iv] + せる 〜らせる (-raseru, caused to)
Special exceptions
ある (aru, exist) Does not conjugate.[2]
[ii] The causative form has a shortened variation, where the 〜せる (-seru) suffix undergoes morpheme fusion and becomes 〜す (-su); however, the short form is less commonly used than the standard conjugation.[60]
[iii] For godan verbs ending in 〜う (-u), the "" changes to "わ" (wa) in the causative conjugation. It does not change to "あ" (a).[59]
[iv] Theoretical conjugation only; it's unnatural and not usually used.[2]

Causative: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

After conjugating into the causative form, the verbs become ichidan verbs. They can therefore be further conjugated according to any ichidan pattern. For instance, a causative verb (e.g. 言わせる (iwaseru, caused to say)) can conjugate using the ichidan pattern for the te form (て形, te kei) to join sequential statements (言わせて (iwasete)), or the conjunctive form to append the polite -masu (〜ます) auxiliary verb (言わせます (iwasemasu)).

Causative passive[edit]

The causative passive form expresses that a reluctant subject was positioned (or forced) into doing something they would rather avoid. The causative passive form is obtained by conjugating a verb into its causative form and further conjugating it into the passive form. However, because words such as 待たせられる (mataserareru) are considered difficult to pronounce, the conjugational suffix is often contracted in colloquial speech. Specific to godan verbs only, the せら〜 (sera-, from せられる) contracts into さ〜 (sa-).[61]

Causative passive form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I'm made to study by my parents. 両親に勉強させられる (ryōshin ni benkyō saserareru) formal
I'm made to wait. たされる (matasareru) colloquial present
I was made to buy something. わされた (kawasareta) colloquial past

Imperative[edit]

The imperative form functions as firm instructions do in English. It is used to give orders to subordinates (such as within military ranks, or towards pet animals) and to give direct instructions within intimate relationships (for example, within family or close friends). When directed towards a collective rather than an individual, the imperative form is used for mandatory action or motivational speech.[31] The imperative form is also used in reported speech.

Imperative form example sentences
English Japanese Function
To a pet dog: Sit! 座れ! (suware!) giving orders
Traffic signage: STOP 止まれ (tomare) mandatory action
Do your best! 頑張れ! (ganbare!) motivation speech
Direct speech: "Please begin."
I was told to begin.
直接話法:「始めて下さい」 (chokusetsu wahō: "hajimete kudasai")
始めろと言われた (hajimero to iwareta)
reported speech
止まれ STOP signs in Japan use the imperative form of 止まる (to stop) to command mandatory action.

However, the imperative form is perceived as confrontational or aggressive when used for commands; instead, it is more common to use the te form (with or without the 〜下さい (-kudasai, please do) suffix), or the conjunctive form's polite imperative suffix, 〜なさい (-nasai).[31]

Imperative: Conjugation table[edit]

The imperative form uses the meireikei base.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Imperative form
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row
作る (tsukuru, make) 作れ (tsukure, make it)
言う (iu, say) 言え (ie, say it)
持つ (motsu, carry) 持て (mote, carry it)
探す (sagasu, look for) 探せ (sagase, look for it)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add or [i]
見る (miru, see) + 見ろ (miro, see it) [spoken]
見よ (miyo, see it) [written]
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め + 始めろ (hajimero, begin it) [spoken]
始めよ (hajimeyo, begin it) [written]
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) くるこい こい (koi, do come)
する (suru, do)[i] する しろ しろ (shiro, do it) [spoken]
せよ せよ (seyo, do it) [written]
Special conjugations
〜ます (-masu) 〜ま 〜ませ (-mase, do)
Honorific verbs Remove then add
下さる (kudasaru, give) 下さ 下さい (kudasai, give it)
Special exceptions
ある (aru, exist) [ii] あれ (are, do exist)
[i] 〜ろ (-ro) is used for the spoken imperative form, while 〜よ (-yo) is used for the written imperative form.[19]
[ii] Theoretical conjugation only; it's unnatural and not usually used.[2]

Non‑volitional verbs, such as 分かる (wakaru, to understand) and できる (dekiru, to be able), have no imperative form.

Potential[edit]

The potential form describes the capability of doing something.[62] It is also used to ask favors from others, just as "Can you…?" does in English. However, unlike in English, the potential form does not request permission; the phrase この林檎が食べられる? (kono ringo ga taberareru?, "Can I eat this apple?" ) is always understood to mean "Do I have the ability to eat this apple?" or "Is this apple edible?" (but never "May I eat this apple?" ).

Potential form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I can read Japanese. 日本語が読める (nihongo ga yomeru) capability
Can you buy some coffee? コーヒーが買える (kōhii ga kaeru?) requesting favors

For transitive verbs, the potential form uses the (ga) particle to mark direct objects, instead of the (o) particle.

Potential: Conjugation table[edit]

The potential form is created by using the kanōkei base, followed by the る・られる (ru/rareru) suffix. する (suru, to do) has its own suppletive potential form 出来る (dekiru, can do). For ichidan verbs and 来る (kuru), the potential form and the passive form have an identical conjugation pattern with the same られる (rareru) suffix. This makes it impossible to distinguish whether an ichidan verb adopts a passive or potential function without contextual information.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Potential form
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row, then add
作る (tsukuru, make) +  作れる (tsukureru, can make)
言う (iu, say) +  言える (ieru, can say)
持つ (motsu, carry) +  持てる (moteru, can carry)
探す (sagasu, look for) +  探せる (sagaseru, can look for)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add られる [i]
見る (miru, see) + られる 見られる (mirareru, can see) [i]
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め + られる 始められる (hajimerareru, can begin) [i]
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) + られる こられる (korareru, can come) [i]
する (suru, do) するできる できる (dekiru, can do)
Special exceptions
分かる (wakaru, understand) [ii] 分か +  分かれる (wakareru, can understand)
ある (aru, exist) Does not conjugate.[2]
[i] Colloquially the (ra) is removed from れる (rareru) in a phenomenon known as ら抜き言葉 (ranuki kotoba).[62] For example, れる (korareru, can come) becomes これる (koreru). This contraction is specific to the potential form, and is not reciprocated in the passive form.
[ii] Theoretical conjugation only; it's unnatural and not usually used. 分かる (wakaru) expresses potential innately without having to conjugate it to the potential form.

Potential: Grammatical compatibility[edit]

After conjugating into the potential form, the verbs become ichidan verbs. They can therefore be further conjugated according to any ichidan pattern. For instance, a potential verb (e.g. 言え (ieru, can say)) can conjugate using the ichidan pattern for the te form (て形, te kei) to join sequential statements (言え (iete)), or the conjunctive form to append the polite -masu (〜ます) auxiliary verb (言えます (iemasu)).

Conditional[edit]

The conditional form (also known as the "hypothetical form", "provisional form" and the "provisional conditional eba form") is broadly equivalent to the English conditionals "if…" or "when…". It describes a condition that provides a specific result, with emphasis on the condition.[63] The conditional form is used to describe hypothetical scenarios or general truths.[64]

Conditional form example sentences
English Japanese Function
If you see it, you'll understand. 見れば分かる (mireba wakaru) hypothetical
When you multiply 3 by 4, it becomes 12. 3に4を掛ければ12になる (san ni yon o kakereba jūni ni naru) general truths

Conditional: Conjugation table[edit]

The conditional form is created by using the kateikei base, followed by the (ba) suffix.

Dictionary form Pattern [2] Conditional form
Godan verbs Shift the 〜〇 kana to the row, then add
作る (tsukuru, make) +  作れば (tsukureba, if to make)
言う (iu, say) +  言えば (ieba, if to say)
持つ (motsu, carry) +  持てば (moteba, if to carry)
探す (sagasu, look for) +  探せば (sagaseba, if to look for)
Ichidan verbs Remove then add れば
見る (miru, see) + れば 見れば (mireba, if to see)
始める (hajimeru, begin) 始め + れば 始めれば (hajimereba, if to begin)
Irregular verbs
来る (kuru, come) +  来れば (kureba, if to come)
する (suru, do) +  すれば (sureba, if to do)
Special conjugations
〜ない (-nai, not) 〜なけれ +  〜なければ (-nakereba, if not) [i]
[i] Colloquially the 〜なければ (-nakereba) form is contracted to 〜なきゃ (-nakya) or 〜なくちゃ (-nakucha), which comes from 〜なくては (-nakutewa). For example, 行かなければ (ikanakereba) could become 行かなきゃ (ikanakya) or 行かなくちゃ (ikanakucha).

Conditional: Advanced usage[edit]

In its negative conjugation (〜なければ, -nakereba), the conditional form can express obligation or insistence by attaching to 〜ならない (-naranai, to not happen) or 〜なりません (-narimasen, to not happen (polite) ). This pattern of grammar is a double negative which loosely translates to "to avoid that action, will not happen". Semantically cancelling out the negation becomes "to do that action, will happen" ; however the true meaning is "I must do that action".[65][66]

Conditional form example sentences
English Japanese Function
I have to help. 手伝わなければならない (tetsudawanakereba naranai) obligation
I must go to the dentist. 歯医者に行かなければならない (haisha ni ikanakereba naranai) insistence
Your self‑introduction has to be in Japanese. 自己紹介は日本語でなければならない (jiko shoukai wa nihongo denakereba naranai yo) obligation / insistence

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Banno et al. 2020a, pp. 86–88, "Lesson 3, Grammar 1: Verb Conjugation".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 576–579, "Appendix 1 Basic Conjugations" (Verbs).
  3. ^ McClain 1981, pp. 5–6, "Verbs: Functions of Six Bases".
  4. ^ a b c Nakano 2008, pp. 103–105, "2.可能表現の形態とその内容の変遷ー動作主体性の発達" (Potential).
  5. ^ a b c Miyake 2016, "可能形" (Potential).
  6. ^ a b Nakamura 2009, "音便形" (Euphonic Change).
  7. ^ a b Sakaki 2019, "音便形" (Euphonic Change).
  8. ^ a b Koyanagi 2014, "意志形" (Volitional).
  9. ^ a b c McClain 1981, p. 6, "Verbs: 3. Third Base" (終止形/連体形; Conclusive/Attributive Base).
  10. ^ a b c d e Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 580–581, "Appendix 1 Basic Conjugations" (Adjectives).
  11. ^ McClain 1981, pp. 6–13, "Verbs: Conjugation Charts".
  12. ^ McClain 1981, p. 6, "Verbs: 4. Fourth Base" (仮定形 Conditional Base).
  13. ^ McClain 1981, p. 6, "Verbs: 5. Fifth Base" (命令形 Imperative Base).
  14. ^ McClain 1981, p. 5, "Verbs: 1. First Base" (未然形 Negative Base).
  15. ^ a b McClain 1981, p. 6, "Verbs: 6. Sixth Base" (推量形 Tentative Base).
  16. ^ McClain 1981, pp. 5–6, "Verbs: 2. Second Base" (連用形 Continuative Base).
  17. ^ a b Digital Daijisen Dictionary: Onbinkei.
  18. ^ McClain 1981, p. 38-46, "Verb-Following Expressions: I. Expressions which follow the First Base of the Verb".
  19. ^ a b Makino & Tsutsui 1989, p. 578, "Appendix 1 Basic Conjugations" (Verbs: Footnote 7).
  20. ^ Shirane 2005, pp. 24–25, "3.1 The Six Inflected Forms".
  21. ^ a b Chamberlain 1888, p. 148, "The Verb: Peculiarities of the First Conjugation ¶ 239".
  22. ^ Banno et al. 2020, pp. 232–233, "Lesson 22, Grammar 1: Causative Sentences".
  23. ^ McClain 1981, p. 8-11, "Verbs: Conjugation of Japanese Verbs: II. Consonant-stem verbs".
  24. ^ McClain 1981, p. 10-11, "Verbs: Conjugation of Japanese Verbs: III. Irregular verbs".
  25. ^ McClain 1981, pp. 39–86, "Verb-Following Expressions".
  26. ^ McClain 1981, p. 17-18, "Verbs: How to form Ta- and Te-form of Verbs: II. Consonant stem verbs".
  27. ^ Lombardo et al. 2019.
  28. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 100–102, "Main Entries: darō だろう".
  29. ^ a b Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 452–457, "Main Entries: ~tara 〜たら".
  30. ^ a b Banno et al. 2020a, pp. 190–191, "Lesson 8, Grammar 1: Short Forms".
  31. ^ a b c Banno et al. 2020b, p. 234, "Lesson 22, Grammar 3: Verb Stem + なさい".
  32. ^ a b c Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 271–273, "Main Entries: ~nai de 〜ないで".
  33. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1995, pp. 315–317, "Main Entries: -nu ぬ".
  34. ^ Banno et al. 2020a, p. 214, "Lesson 9, Grammar 1: Past Tense Short Forms".
  35. ^ Banno et al. 2020a, pp. 259–260, "Lesson 11, Grammar 2: 〜たり〜たりする".
  36. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 458–461, "Main Entries: ~tari ~tari suru 〜たり〜たりする".
  37. ^ Banno et al. 2020b, pp. 119–121, "Lesson 17, Grammar 3: 〜たら".
  38. ^ Banno et al. 2020a, pp. 150–151, "Lesson 6, Grammar 1: Te-form".
  39. ^ a b c Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 464–467, "Main Entries: -te て".
  40. ^ a b c d Makino & Tsutsui 1995, pp. 556–560, "Main Entries: Vmasu".
  41. ^ Banno et al. 2020a, p. 152, "Lesson 6, Grammar 4: 〜てもいいです, Grammar 5: 〜てはいけません".
  42. ^ a b Makino & Tsutsui 1989, p. 593, "Appendix 4 Connection Forms of Important Expressions: F. Vte+__".
  43. ^ Banno et al. 2020a, p. 151, "Lesson 6, Grammar 2: 〜てください".
  44. ^ Tofugu: Stem Form.
  45. ^ a b Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 589–590, "Appendix 4 Connection Forms of Important Expressions: B. Vmasu+__".
  46. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1995, pp. 561–563, "Main Entries: Vmasu as a Noun".
  47. ^ Kim 2017, "Polite Form and Verb Stems".
  48. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 297–299, "Main Entries: ni⁵ に".
  49. ^ Kamermans 2010, p. 70, "Verb grammar — § 2.3 Noun inflection".
  50. ^ Kamiya 2001, p. 36, "Auxiliaries".
  51. ^ McClain 1981, p. 13, "Conjugation of Suffix masu ます".
  52. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1995, p. 626, "Appendix 2 Compound Verbs".
  53. ^ Banno et al. 2020b, pp. 74–75, "Lesson 15, Grammar 1: Volitional Form".
  54. ^ a b Digital Daijisen Dictionary: Yō.
  55. ^ Banno et al. 2020b, p. 75, "Lesson 15, Grammar 2: Volitional Form + と思っています".
  56. ^ Lampkin 2010, pp. 14–40.
  57. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 33–35, "Characteristics of Japanese Grammar: 5. Passive".
  58. ^ a b Banno et al. 2020b, pp. 210–212, "Lesson 21, Grammar 1: Passive Sentences".
  59. ^ a b c Banno et al. 2020b, pp. 232–233, "Lesson 22, Grammar 1: Causative Sentences".
  60. ^ Tofugu: 〜させる (Causative).
  61. ^ Banno et al. 2020b, pp. 254–255, "Lesson 23, Grammar 1: Causative-passive Sentences".
  62. ^ a b Banno et al. 2020b, pp. 27–28, "Lesson 13, Grammar 1: Potential Verbs".
  63. ^ Banno et al. 2020b, pp. 234–235, "Lesson 22, Grammar 4: 〜ば".
  64. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 81–83, "Main Entries: ba ば".
  65. ^ Banno et al. 2020a, pp. 279–280, "Lesson 12, Grammar 5: 〜なければいけません/〜なきゃいけません".
  66. ^ Makino & Tsutsui 1989, pp. 274–276, "Main Entries: ~nakereba naranai 〜なければならない" (Must).

Bibliography[edit]

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External links[edit]

  • Japanese Verb Conjugator, online tool giving all forms for any verb
  • Japanese Verb Conjugator, online tool with romaji, kana, and kanji output
  • JLearn.net, an online Japanese dictionary that accepts conjugated terms and returns the root verb
  • [1] Guide to conjugation te form of Japanese verbs
  • [2] List of Free Online Verb Dictionaries
  • [3] Handbook of Japanese Verbs - National Institute of Japanese Language and Linguistics