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Verb Forms

Verb forms in Japanese
Verb Form Logo Image

There are many ways to change the form of a verb to give it a new function. This page looks at only a few very useful forms.


This page will look at how to form & use verbs. A lot can be done with verbs. You simply take the beginning (root) of the verb, chop off the rest, and add on set endings and presto! You have a new way to use the verb!

Getting used to using the various verb form endings correctly takes time, but if you listen to native speech and take heed to your *many* mistakes, you should be able to get a feel for what should go where. This page is a brief survey of what can be added to verb roots.

A Prelude...
BEFORE THE LESSON YOU NEED TO KNOW...
  • About the 3 groups of verbs : CLICK HERE TO REVIEW
  • That Godzilla's real name is Cynthia - just kidding...
始めましょう! Let's begin...

Happy Face Image VERB FORMS Happy Face Image
With each form, there are various ways of changing or adding to the verb to create various meanings. We will look at a few under each form's section. And yes, there are more, but these forms should be very useful

1. DICTIONARY FORM - so called because that is what you find in the dictionary! (simple (not-so-formal) present)
2. MASU FORM - Ends in a -masu (some-what formal present)
3. TA FORM - Ends in -ta (simple (not-so-formal) past)
4. LET'S DO THIS FORM - usually ends in -ou
5. CAN-DO-IT FORM - The form that shows ability to do the verb

Star Image THE VERB ROOT IS IN RED Star Image

Let's first look at the dictionary form. If you memorize verbs in this form (as it is written in the dictionary) you can then change them to whatever form is necessary.

1. DICTIONARY FORM

The dictionary form always ends in u
This form is also called the present (or non-past) informal form

VERB GROUP 1

ENDINGS: -u

The last two letters could be -u, -ru, -tsu, -bu, -su, -mu, -nu, -ku, gu

kaku - to write
asobu - to play

VERB GROUP 2

ENDS in -ru

miru - to see
食べ taberu - to eat
IRREGULAR VERBS する suru - to be

来る kuru - to come

IF YOU KNOW THE DICTIONARY FORM, YOU CAN MAKE OTHER USAGES:

1) CAN DO [Dict. form + koto ga dekiru or koto ga dekimasu]

食べることができる taberu koto ga dekiru - (I) can eat.
漢字を書くことができる kanji o kaku koto ga dekiru. - I can write kanji.


2) INTEND TO; PLAN TO... [Dict. form + tsumori (desu)]

アメリカへ行くつもりです amerika e iku tsumori desu. - I plan to go to America.

Star Image Notice the root of kaku is ka but keep in mind the "k" following the "ku." For Group 1 verbs, this "k" (or whatever letter it may be) will be important in making other forms.

GET to know the roots very well as all forms are made by taking the root + something.

2. MASU FORM

Remember when I said the "k" following "KU" in kaku may be important? Well here it is!

The masu form always ends in masu
This form is also the present (or non-past) formal form

VERB GROUP 1

Arrow Image In romaji you can see the root (in red) is followed by one letter and an "i" then ADD -masu

きます kakimasu - to write
びます asobimasu - to play

VERB GROUP 2

Simply ADD -masu to the root

ます mimasu - to see
食べます tabemasu - to eat

IRREGULAR VERBS

The good news is there are only 2 irregular verbs

します shimasu - to be (changed from suru)

来ます kimasu - to come (from kuru to kimasu)

All 3 groups use the follow endings :

Example: 食べる taberu - to eat

食べます tabemasu - eat; non-past (present or future)
食べました tabemashita - ate; past
食べません tabemasen - not eat; negative non-past (present or future)
食べませんでした tabemasen deshita - didn't eat; negative past
食べましょう tabemashou - Let's eat; "let's" suggestion or command - Also see VERB FORM # 4 below



3. TA FORM

Ends in -ta (simple (not-so-formal) past)
The endings are a little harder to guess, but they will end in either a ta or a da

VERB GROUP 1

The group 1 verbs will take some time to get used to

いた kaita - wrote
んだ asonda - played

VERB GROUP 2

These are fairly simple as you just add TA or DA to the root

mita - saw
食べ tabeta - ate
IRREGULAR VERBS した shita - was, -ed

来た kita - came

IF YOU KNOW THE TA FORM, YOU CAN MAKE OTHER USAGES:

1) JUST DID THAT [TA form + bakari]

食べたばかり tabeta bakari - (I) just ate.


2) HAVE YOU EVER ... [TA form + koto ga aru or koto ga arimasu]

富士山を見たことがありますか? fujisan o mita koto ga arimasu ka? - Have you ever seen Mt. Fuji?


3) If... [TA form + ra]

ケーキを食べたら、太る。 ke-ki o tabetara, futoru. - If (I) eat cake, I will get fat.

 

4. LET'S... FORM

Take the -masu form, and replace the -masu with -mashou

VERB GROUP 1

The group 1 verbs will take some time to get used to

きましょう kakimashou - Let's write
びましょう asobimashou - Let's play

VERB GROUP 2

These are fairly simple as you just add the mashou to the root

ましょう mimashou - Let's see
食べましょう tabemashou - Let's eat
IRREGULAR VERBS しましょう shimashou - Let's... (do ...)

来る kiru - to come [You wouldn't ever say, "Let's come to..." :)]

 

来た、見た、勝った。
kita, mita, katta
"I came, I saw, I conquered!"

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Very Good

This lesson is very helpful! (Spam)

nice

very helpful, thank you. :]

sakurablossom's picture

thanks for this-were doing

thanks for this-were doing this in class and this help very much!

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