動詞の変化

Verb Conjugation

Jump Directly To:

This section provides an introduction to the dynamics of Japanese verbs, how they are conjugated and their usage in Japanese. In Japanese the verb always comes at the end of the clause or sentence.

An Overview of Japanese Verbs

Like adjectives, it is important to understand the different levels of politeness when conjugating verbs.  The four levels are:

Informal Used among friends and family when referring to just about anything, except people or things that you wish to show reverence for.  Can also be used in formal situations when you are addressing a 目下 [meshita, subordinate/inferior].
Polite Used when referring to anything other than yourself or your family and possessions in a formal situation and when you are addressing a 目上 [meue, senior/superior].
Humble Used when referring to yourself or your family or possessions in a formal situation.
Honorific Often used by high class store clerks when addressing customers.  Used if you are talking to someone like the Emperor, the CEO of Matsushita, or the Prime Minister.

Of the four levels of politeness we will cover only informal speech and polite speech. The others are less frequently used and can be easily learned later when one has a better understanding of the first two.

A Japanese verb consists of two parts: the base (よみがな) and the remaining hiragana suffix (おくりがな), which is conjugated in a number of ways to determine tense and what not. Many times よみがな is represented entirely by kanji (usually one, sometimes more). An example of this is 見る [miru, to see]. Sometimes よみがな will be represented by kanji and hiragana that is not changed with the おくりがな during conjugation.  An example of this would be 教える [oshieru, to show/teach]. Observe the following:

よみがな おくりがな Combined
見る
なかった 見なかった
教え 教える
教え なかった 教えなかった

If you are just starting, don't worry about remembering which verbs have hiragana that is not included in the おくりがな, this will become clearer when you begin learning kanji. 

First let's explore the three groups of Japanese verbs. Group one, the vowel-stem verbs have only two variations: -iru and -eru. Group two, the consonant-stem verbs have nine: -su, -bu, -mu, -nu, -ku, -gu, -tsu, -u, and -ru. All Japanese verbs will fall under one of these eleven variants (except for する, くる and いく, and a the less frequently used なさる, おっしゃる, いらっしゃる and ござる) so it's good to get them mastered right away. The following examples are in the present/future informal form, also known as the dictionary form since this is the form verbs take when listed in a Japanese dictionary. As discussed previously, present and future tenses are both conveyed by the same form. The following tables show the three groups and eleven variants along with example verbs for each:

Group 1 - Vowel Stem Verbs
-iru
 見る
[miru, to see]
  いる [iru], 着る [kiru], 似る [niru]
-eru
 食べる
[taberu, to eat]
  見せる [miseru], 間違える [machigaeru]
 
Group 2 - Consonant Stem Verbs
-su
 話す
[hanasu, to speak]
  出す [dasu], 指す [sasu], 探す [sagasu]
-bu
 飛ぶ
[tobu, to fly]
  呼ぶ [yobu], 遊ぶ [asobu], 浮かぶ [ukabu]
-mu
 読む
[yomu, to read]
  飲む [nomu], 刻む [kizamu]
-nu
 死ぬ
[shinu, to die]
 
-ku
 聞く
[kiku, to hear]
  書く [kaku], 引く [hiku], 招く [maneku]
-gu
 泳ぐ
[oyogu, to swim]
  注ぐ [sosogu], 脱ぐ [nugu]
-tsu
待つ
[matsu, to wait]
  持つ [motsu], 建つ [tatsu], 勝つ [katsu]
-u
 習う
[narau, to learn]
  言う [iu], 買う [kau], 会う [au]
-ru
座る
[suwaru, to sit]
  渡る [wataru], ある [aru], 帰る [kaeru]*
 
Group 3 - Irregular Verbs
する [suru, to do] 来る [kuru, to come] 行く [iku, to go]

*There are a number of exceptions among group 1 verbs. The following 8 common verbs are examples of these exceptions. Although ending in -iru or -eru and thus looking like group 1 vowel stem verbs, they are actually consonant stem verbs and conjugate as such:

入る [hairu] 帰る [kaeru] 知る [shiru] 走る [hashiru]
限る [kagiru] 要る [iru] 切る [kiru] 喋る [shaberu]

How to Conjugate Japanese Verbs

To conjugate group 1 vowel stem verbs in dictionary form, one need only drop the おくりがな (-る) and add the desired suffix (-ない, -て, -た, -ます, -よう, -れば, etc.) to the verb base. However with group 2 consonant stem verbs the conjugation requires a formative (which correlates to one of the 5 vowel variants represented in the Hiragana chart depending upon the verb and the suffix) followed by the desired suffix. Following is a chart detailing formative usage in group 2 verbs. Note that while formatives correlate to the Hiragana chart, only vowel formatives and formatives beginning with consonant sounds k, g, s, t, n, b, m, and r are seen among Japanese verbs. Also note that the one exception to the Hiragana chart correlation is that the vowel あ formative is represented as わ (so its 習わない not 習あない). Lastly, while these formatives apply to most group 2 conjugations, they do not apply to all of them (such as -て and -た):

Group 2 Verb Conjugation
よみがな おくりがな Example
Base Base Formative Example Suffix
a i u e o
 -ない
[negative form]
 習わない
[narawanai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 習います
[naraimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 習う
[narau]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 習えば
[naraeba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 習おう
[naraou]
 -ない
[negative form]
 聞かない
[kikanai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 聞きます
[kikimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 聞く
[kiku]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 聞けば
[kikeba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 聞こう
[kikou]
 -ない
[negative form]
 泳がない
[oyoganai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 泳ぎます
[oyogimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 泳ぐ
[oyogu]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 泳げば
[oyogeba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 泳ごう
[oyogou]
 -ない
[negative form]
 話さない
[hanasanai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 話します
[hanashimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 話す
[hanasu]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 話せば
[hanaseba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 話そう
[hanasou]
There are no verbs that use these characters as formatives
 -ない
[negative form]
 待たない
[matanai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 待ちます
[machimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 待つ
[matsu]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 待てば
[mateba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 待とう
[matou]
There are no verbs that use these characters as formatives
 -ない
[negative form]
 死なない
[shinanai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 死にます
[shinimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 死ぬ
[shinu]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 死ねば
[shineba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 死のう
[shinou]
There are no verbs that use these characters as formatives  
 -ない
[negative form]
 飛ばない
[tobanai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 飛びます
[tobimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 飛ぶ
[tobu]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 飛べば
[tobeba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 飛ぼう
[tobou]
There are no verbs that use these characters as formatives
 -ない
[negative form]
 読まない
[yomanai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 読みます
[yomimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 読む
[yomu]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 読めば
[yomeba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 読もう
[yomou]
There are no verbs that use these characters as formatives  
 -ない
[negative form]
 座らない
[suwaranai]
 -ます
[polite form]
 座ります
[suwarimasu]
 
[dictionary form]
 座る
[suwaru]
 -ば
[conditional form]
 座れば
[suwareba]
 -う
[tentative form]
 座ろう
[suwarou]
There are no verbs that use these characters as formatives

Japanese Verb Bases

Most Japanese textbooks will begin their discussion of verbs with an overview of the six verb bases to which suffixes are added to create all the various possible conjugations. While it is probably helpful to eventually understand the dynamics of these bases in traditional Japanese grammar, it's really not necessary for the beginner to start observing how Japanese verbs are conjugated using the charts on this page. Japanese verb bases are what this site refers to as a base+formative and are as follows:

Japanese Base = Verb base + formative Used for suffixes:
Group 1 formative Group 2 formative
未然形 [mizenkei] "a" formative
-ない
[negative form]
-られる/-れる
[passive form]
-させる/-せる
[causative form]
-させられる/-せられる
[passive-causative form]
連用形 [renyoukei] "i" formative
-ます
[polite form]
-たい
[desire form]
-たがる
[3rd party desire form]
連体形 [rentaikei] "u" formative
 
[dictionary form]
仮定形 [kateikei] "e" formative
-ば
[conditional form]
命令形 [meireikei] "e" formative
 
[imperative form]
推量形 [suiryoukei] "o" formative
-う
[Tentative form]

Sixteen Verb Forms

There are hundreds of various verb endings and verb-following expressions used in the Japanese language. It is outside the scope of the site to provide an exhaustive list of all the expressions possible.  Instead we will focus on the following sixteen verb forms, which should provide more than enough material for the student of Japanese.
-ます (-masu, polite form)
-た (-ta, past form)
-て (-te, conjunctive form)
-て (-te, request/directive form)
-ている (-te iru, progressive form)
-ない (-nai, negative form)
-なかった (-nakatta, past negative form)
-られる / -える (-rareru/-eru, potential form)
-よう / -おう (-you/-ou, tentative form)
-れば / -ば, -たら (-reba/-ba,-tara, conditional forms)
-たい, -たがる (-tai,-tagaru, desire form)
-られる / -れる (-rareru/-reru, passive or honorific form)
-させる / -せる (-saseru/-seru, causative form)
-させられる / -せられる (-saserareru/-serareru, causative-passive form)
他動詞 / 自動詞 (tadoushi/jidoushi, transitive/intransitive)
方向の動詞 (houkou no doushi, directional verbs)


ホーム  平仮名と片仮名  日本語の名詞  日本語の助詞  だ/です
ある/ いる  形容詞の変化  動詞の変化  漢字辞典  日本語クイズ

This page and all content is ©1998-2014 Scott Lyons. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Validation: XHTML CSS