Verbs

Verbs

 

Japanese verbs are hard working words.  Remember that the verb is always at the end of the sentence.  The rest of the sentence provides information for the verb.  

Each verb is comprised of a stem and endings.  The stem remains constant, while the endings provide for tense, and other considerations.

 

Copulas

 

Most verbs involve some sort of action.  Others  simply relate a noun to another noun or an adjective.  These words are called copulas – they couple the two words or phrases. 

 

 In English, the word is, with its  many variations – was, were, are, am, etc -  is a copula.  So we say the house is big.  You can think of a copula as an equal sign – in this case, house equals big.

 

Many other words can serve as copulas.  Consider these statements:

 

The rose smells nice.

The train appears near.

The boat looks terrific.

The book became a best-seller.

 

Notice that there is no action being described by these verbs.  They simply relate the subject of the verb to its object.

 

Existence

 

In English, is can be used to tell of the existence of something: There is a house.  The horse is in the barn.  Desu can NOT be used in this way.  Instead, Japanese has imasu and arimasu for existence.  Imasu can only be used for describing the existence of a living, mobile thing (i.e., animals, including the human kind), and arimasu can only be used for non-living things.  So we can say

hito wa heya ni  imasu (there is a person in the room) and  

hon wa heya ni arimasu (there is a book in the room).

Tense

There are four tenses for Japanese verbs: non-past, past, non-past negative, and past negative.

We say non-past because that tense applies to the present and the future.  So we can say

PastKinou watashi wa tabemashita.  Yesterday I ate.m

Non-pastKyo watashi wa tabemasu.  Today I eat.

Non-pastAshita watashi wa tabemasu.  Tomorrow I eat.

Notice that the verb (tabemasu) did not change between today (present) and tomorrow (future).

You can also see that making a negative statement is also a matter of verb conjugation, while in English it is achieved with additional words:

Watashi wa ikimasen.  I am not going.

Although it will seem to be complicated, one saving grace of Japanese is that it is consistent.  English, having a variety of origins  (German, French, Latin, etc), has many different conjugations: consider is/was/were/am . .  and see/saw and hear/heard and many more. It sometimes seems as if every verb has its own conjugation!  In Japanese there are no exceptions.  Some say there are two irregular verbs  suru (to do) and kuru (to come).  But there are groupings of verbs, as we shall soon see, that have their own conjugation, and suru and kuru are simply another group.

All verbs have a root that never changes, and a variety of endings.  For instance, the verb taberu refers to eating;  here are some endings:

Tabemashita – formal past tense – ate

Tabenai  informal negative – not eat

Tabemashou  formal - let’s eat

You can see that tabe is the root. 

The root will be represented by ~.

Conjugation is presented as  forms.  The primary form is called the dictionary form – so called because it is the form in which most Japanese dictionaries are ordered.

The basic forms are non-past, past, (non-past) negative, and past negative.  For instance, in the following table, the negative form of yomu (to read) is yonai.  As you can see, the dictionary form is the informal non-past tense.

In the following  tables, xx represents an adjective.  For instance, benkyo suru means (do) study.

 

Informal  Forms

Group

Dictionary

Non-past

Past

Negative

Past Negative

Volitional

1

~u

~u

~tta

~nai

~nakatta

~imasyo

~ru

~ru

~a

~nai

~nakatta

~rimasyo

~tsu

~tsu

~a

~nai

~nakatta

~chimasyo

~bu

~bu

~nda

~nai

~nakatta

~bimasyo

~mu

~mu

~a

~nai

~nakatta

~mimasyo

~ku

~ku

~ita

~nai

~nakatta

~kimasyo

~gu

~gu

~ida

~nai

~nakatta

~gimasyo

~su

~su

~shita

~nai

~nakatta

~shimasyo

2

~ru

~ru

~ta

~nai

~nakatta

~masyo

3

xx suru

xx suru

xx shita

~nai

~nakatta

xx shimasyo

kuru

kuru

kita

~nai

~nakatta

kimasyo

Informal non-past form

Use this form for when speaking of present or future events.  Note that it is the same as the dictionary form.

Example:

Hon o kau.  (I) buy a book.

 

Informal Past form

Use this form when speaking of events that have already happened.

Example:

Pan o tabetta.  (I)  bought bread.

 

Indirect negative form.

Use this form when speaking of a negative event.

Example:

Kuruma o ikunai.  The car does not go.

 

Informal past negative

Use this form when speaking of a negative event that has happened.

Example:

Wwatashi no ashi o kowasanakatta.  I did not break my leg.   

 

Informal Volitional form

Use this form to suggest, urge, or initiate an act.  It is often thought of as “let’s”.  It is informal when speaking.  When used in writing it is impersonal.

 

Examples

Ikimasyo – Let’s go.

Tabemasyo – Let’s eat.

 

 

Formal speech is based on the ~masu ending, as seen here:

 

Formal

Group

Dictionary

Non-past

Past

Negative

Past Negative

1

~u

~masu

~mashita

~masen

~masen deshita

~ru

~rimasu

~rimashita

~rimasen

~rimasen deshita

~tsu

~chimasu

~chimashita

~chimasen

~chimasen deshita

~bu

~bimasu

~bimashita

~bimasen

~bimasen deshita

~mu

~mimasu

~mimashita

~mimasen

~mimasen deshita

~ku

~kimasu

~kimashita

~kimasen

~kimasen deshita

~gu

~gimasu

~gimashita

~gimasen

~gimasen deshita

~su

~shimasu

~shimashita

~shimasen

~shimasen deshita

2

~ru

~masu

~mashita

~masen

~masen deshita

3

xx suru

xx shmiasu

xx shmiasu

xx shimasu

xx shimasu

kuru

kimasu

kimashita

kimasen

kimasen deshita

Formal non-past form

Use this form for when speaking of present or future events. 

Example:

Hon o kaimasu.  (I) buy a book.

 

Informal Past form

Use this form when speaking of events that have already happened.

Example:

Pan o tabemashita.  (I)  bought bread.

 

Indirect negative form.

Use this form when speaking of a negative event.

Example:

Kuruma o ikimasen.  The car does not go.

 

Informal past negative

Use this form when speaking of a negative event that has happened.

Example:

Wwatashi no ashi o kowshiamasen deshita.  I did not break my leg.   

 

Formal Volitional form

Like the informal volitional form, use this to to suggest, urge, or initiate an act.  It is often thought of as “let’s”.  Many texts call this the mashuo form, reserving volitional for the informal form.  

 

Examples

Ikimashou – Let’s go

Tabemashou – let’s eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group

Dictionary

Masu

Imperative

Passive

Causative

1

~u

~imasu

~e

~tsurera

~wusoru

~ru

~rimasu

~re

~ysurera

~rasoru

~tsu

~chimasu

~te

~tsutera

~tasoru

~bu

~bimasu

~be

~betara

~rusoru

~mu

~mimasu

~me

~midara

~masoru

~ku

~kimasu

~ke

~tara

~kasoru

~gu

~gimasu

~ge

~idaka

~gasoru

~su

~shimasu

~se

~shitara

~sasoru

2

~ru

~masu

~rare

~tara

~sasoru

3

xx suru

xx shiasu

xxshiyou

shitara

sosaseru

kuru

kimasu

 koyou

kitara

kosaseru

 

Imperative form

Use this form as a strong command only if you are in a dominant position.  You can also use this form in an embedded clause expressing what someone asks the other to do.  It is used in road signs, slogans, and other notices.

The imperative form can also be used to express a strong wish.

Examples:

Tomare – Stop 

Gomi o suteruna  do not litter

Ame ga fure  (I ) strongly hope that it rains

 

Passive form

Use this form to:

  • Describe damage or nuisance by another

  • Express positive feelings

  • Discuss historical or social events

 

Examples:

Watashi wa otoko ni nagyareta – I was punched by a man.

Watashi wa sensei ni homererata. – I was praised by my teacher.

Orinpikku wa rainen hirakareru.-the Olympics will be hosted next year.

 

Causative form

Use this form to make or allow someone to do something.  The form is often used in formal conversation as a humble expression.

 

Examples:

Sensei wa seito o tatasetba. - The teacher made rhe student stand up.

Watashi wa kmodomo ni sooji o saseta. – I made the child clean (the room).

 

 

Other forms

There are seeveral more forms than are cited here.  For instance, the hypothetical form (“ba”) can be used for “if” and “when” sentences.  However, there are many conditions involved in using he less common forms, and they are left for the advanced reader to discover elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group

Dict

Volitional

Pot

Te

1

~u

~imashou

~emasu

~tte

~ru

~rimashou

~remasu

~tsu

~chimashou

~temasu

~bu

~bimashou

~bemasu

~nde

~mu

~mimashou

~memasu

~ku

~kimashou

~kemasu

~ite

~gu

~gimashou

~gemasu

~ide

~su

~shimashou

~semasu

~shite

2

~ru

~mashou

~raremasu

~te

3

xx suru

xx shimashou

xx dekimasu

xx shite

kuru

kimashou

koraremasu

kite

 

Imperative form

Use the imperative form to give a command or order, such as Do . . . or Don’t . . .


This form is not used in ordinary conversation, it is used to quote an order or request, and is used in road signs, slogans, or notices.

 

Examples:

Tmare – Stop!

Gomo o suteruna – do not litter

The imperative form of unintentional verbs expresses the speaker's hope or wish.

ex.

Ame ga fure!

Fure is the imperative form of furimasu / furu which is an intransitive verb and it does not express any intention of the subject.
The subject of this verb is usually an inanimate thing such as 
ame "rain" or yuki "snow".
But if you use the imperative fureame ga fure, it means you strongly hope that it rains.

 

Te form

Use this form to:

Request an action, using kudasai.

Relate an on-going action.

Connect sentences into one.

Ask permission to join in an action  (with mo ii desu ka)

 

Examples:

Kyoto e itte kudasai.  Please go to Kyoto.

Sumo o mite imasu.  I am watching sumo.

Supa ni itte kouhii kaimashita.  I went to the supermarket and bought coffee.

Itte mo ii desu ka.  May I go?

 

Commonly used Verbs

tabemasu

to eat

 

moraimasu

to receive, be given

vnomimasu

to drink

 

karimasu

to borrow, rent

kaimasu

to buy

 

agarimasu

to go up, rise

mimasu

to watch, look, see

 

sagarimasu

to go down, drop

misemasu

to show

 

fuemasu

to increase

kakimasu

to write, draw, paint

 

herimasu

to decrease

okurimasu

to send

 

naraimasu

to learn

tsukurimasu

to make, produce, cook

 

oboemasu

to memorize, learn, master

tsukaimasu

to use

 

oshiemasu

to teach, inform, notice, let somebody know

aimasu

to meet / to match, fit

 

shirabemasu

to check, investigate

ikimasu

to go

 

wasuremasu

to forget

kimasu

to come

 

hajimarimasu

to begin, start, open

kaerimasu

to return

 

owarimasu

to finish, end

arimasu

to have, be at, exist (inanimate object)

 

akemasu

to open

imasu

to have, be at, exist (animate object)

 

shimemasu

to close

hanashimasu

to talk, speak

 

kachimasu

to win

yakushimasu

to translate

 

makemasu

to lose (a game)

nemasu

to lie down, go to bed

 

magarimasu

to turn, curve

okimasu

to get up, wake up, happen, occur

 

tomarimasu

to stop / to stay (the night), lodge

kowaremasu

to be broken

 

norimasu

to get on, ride

naoshimasu

to repair, fix

 

orimasu

to get off

agemasu

to give, present / to raise, lift up

 

suwarimasu

to sit, have a seat

kirimasu

to cut

 

araimasu

to wash

kimasu

to wear, put on (clothes)

 

yakimasu

to grill, bake, roast, toast

nugimasu

 

to take off (shoes, clothes).

 

torimasu

 

to take, get / to take a picture..

 

Suru verbs

Example – Benkyo shimasu

benkyoo

to learn, study

 

kesseki

be absent from

choosa

to investigate, inquire

 

kikoku

to return to one's country

chuumon

to order (goods)

 

kookan

to exchange, replace

denwa

to phone, call

 

koshoo

to be broken

genshoo

to decrease, drop

 

renraku

to contact, get in touch, inform

hantai

to oppose, be against

 

renshuu

to practice, drill

happyoo

to announce

 

rikon

to divorce

hatsubai

to release, be on sale

 

riyoo

to use

henji

to reply, answer

 

ryokoo

to travel, make a trip

henka

to change

 

ryoori

to cook

honyaku

to translate

 

sansei

to agree, support

hookoku

to report

 

shigoto

to work

insatsu

to print

 

shokuji

to have a meal

kaihatsu

to develop

 

shucchoo

to go on a business trip

kakunin

to check, confirm

 

shuushoku

to get job

kanri

to manage, control

 

shusseki

to attend

kansei

to complete

 

shuuri

to repair, fix

keisan

to calculate

 

soodan

to consult, discuss, talk with

kekkon

to get married

 

sotsugyoo

to graduate

kenkyuu

to study, research

 

undoo

to take exercise

kensa

to check, test, inspect

 

unten

to drive

kensaku

to search

 

yakusoku

to promise, make an appointment

kentoo

to discuss, study, think over

 

yoyaku

to reserve, book

yuushoo

to win championship

 

yunyuu

to import

zooka

to increase, grow

 

yushutsu

to export

.

 

 

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