November 5, 2022

JLPT N5 Grammar: て te Form in Japanese

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Makoto+ Members, click here to download a PDF with worksheets to practice making the て form. Practice makes perfect!

て Form

■ The て form has many usages. The primary uses are:

Simple commands (do something) [日本語(にほんご)勉強(べんきょう)して! Study Japanese!]

Connecting sentences as a conjunction in a sequence (and) [(ばん)(はん)()べて()る。 Eat supper and (then) go to sleep.]

To show an action that is currently occurring (present participle -ing) [勉強(べんきょう)しています。 (I) am studying.]

There are other usages you'll pick up as you progress.

For example, the "and" usage above can sometimes show a causal relationship which should be translated as "so" rather than "and." This restaurant has delicious food, so I love it. 

But for now, learn a few examples to get a feel for how to use it.

 How to Use:

Before we look at usage, let's first learn how to form the verb and adjective forms separated by affirmative and negative tenses.

Prerequisite: If you don't know how to make the simple past (た) form, please click here for how to do that. We'll use this knowledge to construct the て form.

Affirmative Verbs Form: Add to the simple past tense of the verb. This form is surprisingly regular. Simply change the ending to and ending to . This works for all types of verbs (Group 1, 2, and irregular verbs)

Take the simple past of a verb and change the た to て (or だ to で) 


ate (simple past)


please eat


read (simple past)


please read

Negative Verb Form: Addで to the simple negative form.


to not eat


Don't eat.


to not read


Don't read.

Affirmative Adjective Form: For i-adjectives, change the into くて.


high; expensive


high; expensive (and)

Affirmative Adjective Form: For -na adjectives, simply add .




famous (and)

Negative Adjective Form: For i-adjectives, change the ない into なくて. For -na adjectives, you change the auxiliary verb after the adjective.


not high; not expensive


not high; not expensive (and)


not famous


not famous (and)

Study Notes:

Simple Commands: Use the form as a way to utter a command. If this is too direct, add ください to make it more polite.


cake | (direct object marker) | eat | please

 Please eat the cake.


supermarket | to | go

Go to the supermarket.

And here are examples of how to command someone to not do something:


cake | (direct object marker) | don't eat | please

Please do not eat the cake.


supermarket | to | don't go

Don't go to the supermarket.

Linking Sentences (conjunction): It can also be used as a conjunction "and" or "and then…"


I | as for | movie theater | to | went and | friend | with | met

I went to the movies and met a friend.

I could have written that as two sentences:


I | as for | movie theater | to | went | friend | with | met

I went to a movie theater. I met a friend.

But combining them with the て form sounds more natural.

Another example:


house | to | returned and | beer | (direct object marker) | drank

I returned home and drank a beer.

And here are two more examples using the negative form:


dinner | (direct object marker) | didn't eat and | slept

I went to bed without eating supper. 


ticket | as for | wasn't expensive and | buy | easy | is

The tickets are not expensive and easy to buy.

Present Participle—Action is Currently Occurring: This is the -ing form. This is used with いる or the more polite version います (to be) after the - form to indicate continuing action. What are you doing now?


now | Japanese language | (direct object marker) | study | am doing

Now, (I) am studying Japanese.

[しています is the て form of する (to do) and いる (to exist; to continue)]

まだ (not yet) is often used with the negative:


as of yet | mail | (subject/object marker) | didn't arrive

The mail hasn't arrived yet.

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Makoto+ Members, click here to download a PDF with worksheets to practice making the て form. Practice makes perfect!

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