Appendix:Japanese verbs

Modern JapaneseEdit

This section deals only with Japanese as written and spoken in 21st and late 20th centuries.

ConjugationEdit

There are two major types of conjugation: in Japanese "school grammar" they are called godan katsuyō (五段活用) and ichidan katsuyō (一段活用). They are also called constant-stem and vowel-stem, u-verb and ru-verb, and some textbooks use Group I and Group II. The main difference is that in the dictionary (lemma) form, godan verbs can end in any -u sound while ichidan verbs can only end with ru. In addition, ichidan katsuyō is further divided into kami ichidan katsuyō (上一段活用) and shimo ichidan katsuyō (下一段活用) based on whether they end in -iru or -eru (no other vowel before the ru is possible). That said, if a regular verb in its dictionary form ends in -iru or -eru, it will be ichidan in most cases. In all other cases it is godan.

Modern Japanese has mainly two irregular verbs: 来る and する. Some textbooks categorize the two as well as derivatives of the latter (旅行する, ジョギングする) as Group III. In school grammar they also have their own categories: カ行変格活用 and サ行変格活用. In addition, irregular conjugation also occurs in Japanese honorific speech as well as a small number of words derived from する (like 愛する).

Negative formEdit

The negative form of ある is ない, and for all other verbs, the verb is first conjugated to its 未然形 and then attached ない:

  • godan verbs: change the -u to -a (but -wa if it has no consonant) and attach -nai. For example, 読む becomes 読まない.
  • ichidan verbs: drop the -ru and attach -nai. For example, 見る becomes 見ない.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes konai, suru becomes shinai.

Once a verb reaches negative form, it can be further inflected like an -i adjective. For example, negative past is negative form with なかった instead. Sometimes , , or is attached instead of ない-based endings.

Past formEdit

The past form of a verb is formed by attaching to its 連用形. However, there are several kinds of euphonic changes (音便), and some change the attached to its voiced version . Therefore some textbook lists the past form (as well as the similar te-form) as a separate conjugation itself. The all-in-one rules are as follows:

  • godan verbs: if the final kana is く, ぐ, one of ぶ/む/ぬ, one of つ/る/う, or す, they're changed to いた, いだ, んだ, った, and した, respectively. For example, 読む becomes 読んだ. (Occasionally exceptions might apply, such as 行く行った, 問う問うた.)
  • ichidan verbs: drop the -ru and attach -ta. For example, 見る becomes 見た.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes kita, suru becomes shita.

Continuative formEdit

The 連用形 of a verb is also called its stem or continuative form.

  • godan verbs: change the -u to -i. For example, 読む becomes 読み.
  • ichidan verbs: simply drop the -ru. For example, 見る becomes .
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes ki, suru becomes shi.

The 連用形 is sometimes used to turn the verb into a noun (yasumu means to take a rest while yasumi means holiday, absence, etc.) and make compound words (like 読みやすい, 読み, 読み返す). It is also useful in certain kinds of expressions: 読みます (polite form of 読む), 読みたい (want to read), 読みながら (while reading), 読みな(さい) (please read!), 読みそう (seem to read),

Conjunctive or te formEdit

The te form of a verb, also called the conjunctive form, is formed in the same way as the past form, but with instead of (and, in the case of an 音便, instead of ):

  • godan verbs: if the final kana is く, ぐ, one of ぶ/む/ぬ, one of つ/る/う, or す, they're changed to いて, いで, んで, って, and して respectively. For example, 読む becomes 読んで. (Occasionally exceptions might apply, such as 行く行って, 問う問うて.)
  • ichidan verbs: drop the -ru and attach -te. For example, 見る becomes 見て.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes kite, suru becomes shite.

A series of events can be expressed by conjugating all but the last verb to their te form (or in formal writing to the 連用形):

図書館 (としょかん) ()って、勉強 (べんきょう)をした。それから (いえ) (かえ)って宿題 (しゅくだい)をした。
Toshokan ni itte, benkyō o shita. Sorekara ie e kaette shukudai o shita.
Went to library and studied. After that went home and did homework. (Only the last verb in each sentence conjugate according to the tense.)

The form is also useful in certain kinds of expressions: 読んでから (after reading), 読んで(いい) (even if read (it's ok)), 読んでだめ/いけない/ならない (it's not ok to read), 読んで下さい (please read), 読んでいる (in the state of reading), 読んである (have been read, lit. been read and exists), 読んでばかり (is always reading), 読んであげる (help others read), 読んでくれる (help me/us read), 読んでもらう (receive the favor of reading), 読んでおく (read in preparation, for example for a test), 読んでしまう (read completely or by accident), 読んでみる (try reading), etc. When followed by いく (from 行く) or くる (from 来る) as a set expression, the basic meaning is to do something towards a direction (帰る is "return", 帰っていく is "go back", while 帰ってくる is "come back") and the notion of the direction can be abstract (towards the future, up to the present, come to the state, etc.) Also, if a sentence ends with a verb in the te form, it's probably a contraction of ~て下さい and is a request:

 (たす)けて!
Tasukete!
Help!

Imperative formEdit

The imperative form (命令形) is often irregular in honorific speech; in other cases it can be rude in everyday conversation except when quoted or used in -clauses. It is conjugated:

  • godan verbs: change the -u to -e. For example, 読む becomes 読め.
  • ichidan verbs: change the -ru to -ro. For example, 見る becomes 見ろ.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes koi, suru becomes shiro.

Volitional formEdit

The volitional form carries the meaning of "let's do something" and in the polite form of verbs, this is done by changing the ます to ましょう. For dictionary (lemma) forms of verbs it has the same meaning when used alone and means "try to do" when followed by する. It also means "I want to do something", but a less direct way to say this is to follow it by 思う. The conjugation is:

  • godan verbs: change the -u to . For example, 読む becomes 読もう.
  • ichidan verbs: change the -ru to -yō. For example, 見る becomes 見よう.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes koyō, suru becomes shiyō.

Hypothetical conditional formEdit

One of way to say "if" is to attach to the 仮定形 of a verb, which is formed by changing the final vowel u (whether in -u, -ru, kuru, suru) to an e. "AばB" implies that A is a condition for B to happen.

Potential formEdit

  • godan verbs: change the -u to -eru. For example, 読む becomes 読める.
  • ichidan verbs: change the -ru to -rareru. For example, 見る becomes 見られる.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes korareru, suru becomes dekiru.

Sometimes the ra can be left out (a practice called ら抜き言葉). The result can be further conjugated like an ichidan verb; for example, 信じられない (unbelievable).

Causative formEdit

  • godan verbs: change the -u to -a (but -wa if it has no consonant) and attach seru. For example, 読む becomes 読ませる.
  • ichidan verbs: change the -ru to -saseru. For example, 見る becomes 見させる.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes kosaseru, suru becomes saseru.

The result can be further conjugated like an ichidan verb. Sometimes the せる is abbreviated as a single す and conjugates as godan verbs. The object is usually introduced with , but when there is another object with (such as "A made B sing a song"), is used instead.

Passive formEdit

  • godan verbs: change the -u to -a (but -wa if it has no consonant) and attach reru. For example, 読む becomes 読まれる.
  • ichidan verbs: change the -ru to -rareru. For example, 見る becomes 見られる.
  • irregular verbs: kuru becomes korareru, suru becomes sareru.

The result can be further conjugated like an ichidan verb. Aside from the passive voice (where the performer of the verb is introduced with or によって), the form is also used to show politeness in which case the sentence structure does not change. In casual speech, the せる can be abbreviated as a single す and conjugates as godan verbs. The passive form is sometimes used for a victimhood state, for example, 逃げられた is not "was run away by the rabbit", but "rabbit ran away, resulting in loss".

Stem formsEdit

These are the basic forms of verbs as taught in Japan. Verbs have six associated stem forms; three of these each appear in two different ways that are not given separate names, but are used in disjoint contexts. The izenkei (已然形, classical perfective form) is also called the kateikei (仮定形, hypothetical form in modern Japanese). The shūshikei (終止形, terminal form) and rentaikei (連体形, attributive form) are identical for verbs in modern Japanese.

Prototype 起きる 食べる 書く 行く 剥ぐ 射す 待つ 死ぬ 呼ぶ 飲む 掘る 買う 問う くる する
okiru taberu kaku iku hagu sasu matsu shinu yobu nomu horu kau tou kuru suru
Class 上一 下一 カ五 カ五 ガ五 サ五 タ五 ナ五 バ五 マ五 ラ五 ワ五 ワ五 変格 変格
kami-1 shimo-1 ka-5 ka-5 ga-5 sa-5 ta-5 na-5 ba-5 ma-5 ra-5 wa-5 wa-5 ka-hen. sa-hen.
Stem 起き 食べ irreg. irreg.
oki- tabe- ka- i- ha- sa- ma- shi- yo- no- ho- ka- to- irreg. irreg
Mizenkei (未然形) 起き 食べ 書か 行か 剥が 射さ 待た 死な 呼ば 飲ま 掘ら 買わ 問わ irreg.
Imperfective (general) oki- tabe- kaka- ika- haga- sasa- mata- shina- yoba- noma- hora- kawa- towa- ko- irreg.
Mizenkei (未然形) 起き 食べ 書こ 行こ 剥ご 射そ 待と 死の 呼ぼ 飲も 掘ろ 買お 問お
Imperfective (volitional) oki- tabe- kako- iko- hago- saso- mato- shino- yobo- nomo- horo- kao- too- ko- shi-
Ren'yōkei (連用形) 起き 食べ 書き 行き 剥ぎ 射し 待ち 死に 呼び 飲み 掘り 買い 問い
Continuative (-i) oki tabe kaki iki hagi sashi machi shini yobi nomi hori kai toi ki shi
Ren'yōkei (連用形) 起き 食べ 書い 行っ 剥い 射し 待っ 死ん 呼ん 飲ん 掘っ 買っ 問う
Continuative (other) oki- tabe- kai- i_- hai- sashi- ma_- shin- yon- non- ho_- ka_- tou- ki- shi-
Shūshikei (終止形) 起きる 食べる 書く 行く 剥ぐ 射す 待つ 死ぬ 呼ぶ 飲む 掘る 買う 問う くる する
Terminal okiru taberu kaku iku hagu sasu matsu shinu yobu nomu horu kau tou kuru suru
Rentaikei (連体形) 起きる 食べる 書く 行く 剥ぐ 射す 待つ 死ぬ 呼ぶ 飲む 掘る 買う 問う くる する
Attributive okiru taberu kaku iku hagu sasu matsu shinu yobu nomu horu kau tou kuru suru
Izenkei (已然形) 起きれ 食べれ 書け 行け 剥げ 射せ 待て 死ね 呼べ 飲め 掘れ 買え 問え くれ すれ
Classical Perfective okire- tabere- kake- ike- hage- sase- mate- shine- yobe- nome- hore- kae- toe- kure- sure-
Meireikei (命令形) 起きよ 食べよ 書け 行け 剥げ 射せ 待て 死ね 呼べ 飲め 掘れ 買え 問え こい せよ
Imperative (written) okiyo tabeyo kake ike hage sase mate shine yobe nome hore kae toe koi seyo
Meireikei (命令形) 起きろ 食べろ 書け 行け 剥げ 射せ 待て 死ね 呼べ 飲め 掘れ 買え 問え こい しろ
Imperative (spoken) okiro tabero kake ike hage sase mate shine yobe nome hore kae toe koi shiro

The ren'yōkei (連用形, -i form), shūshikei (終止形, terminal form), rentaikei (連体形, attributive form), and meireikei (命令形, imperative form) can appear on their own. The other inflections require suffixes.

Complex formsEdit

Form Classes Stem Suffix Result is Examples
Passive 受動態 1, kuru imperfective (general) られる shimo-1 verb 食べられる
5 imperfective (general) れる shimo-1 verb 書かれる
suru irreg. irreg. shimo-1 verb される
Causative 使役態 1, kuru imperfective (general) させる or さす shimo-1 verb 食べさせる
5 imperfective (general) せる or shimo-1 verb 書かせる
suru irreg. irreg. shimo-1 verb させる or さす
Potential 可能法 1 imperfective (general) られる shimo-1 verb 食べられる
5, kuru, 1 (colloq.) classical imperfective shimo-1 verb 書ける, 起きれる
suru defective defective 出来る (せる in compounds)

Other formsEdit

Form Classes Stem Suffix Result is Examples
Volitional 1, kuru, suru imperfective (volitional) よう indeclinable 食べよう, こよう, しよう
5 imperfective (volitional) indeclinable 書こう, 話そう
Negative all imperfective (general) ない i-adjective 食べない, 書かない, こない, しない
Negative (archaic) all imperfective (general) indeclinable 食べぬ, 書かぬ
Negative Continuative (-zu) 1, 5, kuru imperfective (general) indeclinable 食べず, 書かず, こず
suru irreg. irreg. indeclinable せず
Negative Conjunctive (-naide) all imperfective (general) ないで indeclinable 起きないで, 書かないで, こないで, しないで
Past tense 1, kuru, suru, (ka,sa,ta,ra,wa)-5 continuative (other) indeclinable 食べた, きた, した, 書いた, 行った, 話した, 待った, 作った, 払った, 問った
(ga,na,ba,ma)-5 continuative (other) indeclinable 泳いだ, 死んだ, 読んだ, 飲んだ
Conjunctive (-te) 1, kuru, suru, (ka,sa,ta,ra,wa)-5 continuative (other) indeclinable 食べて, きて, して, 書いて, 行って, 話して, 待って, 作って, 払って, 問って
(ga,na,ba,ma)-5 continuative (other) indeclinable 泳いで, 死んで, 読んで, 飲んで
Hypothetical (-ba) all classical imperfective (hypothetical) indeclinable 起きれば, 書けば, くれば, すれば
Conditional (-tara) 1, kuru, suru, (ka,sa,ta,ra,wa)-5 continuative (other) たら indeclinable 食べたら, きたら, したら, 書いたら
(ga,na,ba,ma)-5 continuative (other) だら indeclinable 泳いだら, 死んだら, 読んだら, 飲んだら
Currently incomplete

Suffixes to the continuative (-i) formEdit

There are several suffixes that attach to the continuative (-i) form. These are some of the most common:

Form Suffix Result is Examples
Formal (-masu) ます irregular verb 行きます
Desire (-tai) たい i-adjective 食べたい