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Beginner's Guide To Using The Most Common Japanese Verbs

Definition: The verb expresses an action, event or state. Verbs in Japanese don't conjugate with the person, number or gender.

Polite Form of Verbs (-masu)

People use these verbs for talking to teachers, doctors, older people, or people who don't know well.

Only the verb change when people talk in polite form. The masu termination can change for conjugate time; see that hereby:

Time of the verbTerminationRomaji
polite present/futureます*-masu*
polite negative present/futureません*-masen*
polite pastました*-mashita*
polite negative pastません でした*-masen deshita*

Verbs in Japanese language are divided into two groups or conjugations that have a difference in the formation of their infinitives and stems; but there are only two irregular verbs that have different forms.

Group 1 - consonant, c-stem, u-stem or u-dropping verbs

This group is formed for any verb that doesn't end in -eru or -iru and few verbs that have these terminations. You have the verb stem when you drop the final -u in the verb; you have the infinitive when you add -i at the last of the stem.

EnglishDictionary-formMasu-form
to think*omo*u*omo**i**masu*
to go*ik*u*ik**i**masu*
to read*yom*u*yom**i**masu*

NOTE: You can consider verbs ending in -au, -iu and -ou as c-stem verbs because these verbs ended respectively in -awa, -iwa and -owa long time ago.

Group 2 - vowel, v-stem or ru-dropping verbs

This group of verbs contains most of the verbs that end in -eru or iru. You can have the stem of these verbs by dropping -ru at the finish; if you want the infinitive, it is the same as the stem.

EnglishDictionary-formMasu-form
to wake up*oki*ru*okimasu*
to eat*tabe*rutabe*masu*
to see, to look at*mi*rumi*masu*

Group 3 - irregular verbs

This group has few verbs that change in other kind of sonjugations. The only way to learn they is by memorizing

EnglishDictionary-formMasu-form
to come/arrivekuru*kimasu*
to studybenkyōsuru*benkyōshimasu*
to do/playsuru*shimasu*

In the job application process, use action verbs in resumes to describe all skills, jobs, or accomplishments. It's really important use action verbs to enhance your resume or cover letter. Demostrate a well choose resume verbs and acquire new interests and career directions. The cornerstone of Japanese business practice is consensus building, through which workers gather group approval for ideas before presenting them to senior managers and other companies. Demonstrating this consensus skill and including it in resume using appropriate verbs, you can be catapulted to job success.

Plain Form of Verbs

People use these verbs for talking to friends, inmediate family, or associates. Only the verb change when people need to conjugate in this form of talking.

Plain present/future form

Japanese people use the dictionary form when they need to talk in this form. This form is used to talk in present and furute as well.

Plain negative and past negative form

When we use the plain negative, that used for present and future, words have to end with -nai (). When we use the plain past negative form, words have to end with -nakatta ().

Group 1 - consonant, c-stem, u-stem or u-dropping verbs

When people use this form, they have to change the last u-sound to a-sound; after this they add the termination or .

The exception for this group is when the verb ends with (u); if you find this, you have to change the last to (wa) after you add the termination or .

EnglishDictionary-formNai-formNakatta-form
to think*omo*u*omo**wa**nai**omo**wa**nakatta*
to go*ik*u*ik**a**nai**ik**a**nakatta*
to read*yom*u*yom**a**nai**yom**a**nakatta*

Group 2 - vowel, v-stem or ru-dropping verbs

You can have the stem of these verbs by dropping -ru at the finish; you obtain the past form by adding the terminations or .

EnglishDictionary-formNai-formNakatta-form
to wake up*oki*ru*okinai**okinakatta*
to eat*tabe*rutabe*nai*tabe*nakatta*
to see, to look at*mi*rumi*nai*mi*nakatta*
to have/beirui*nai*i*nakatta*

Group 3 - irregular verbs

This group has few verbs that change in other kind of sonjugations. The only way to learn they is by memorizing.

EnglishDictionary-formNegativePast Negative
to come/arrivekuru*konai**konakatta*
to do/playsuru*shinai**shinakatta*
to have/bearu*nai**nakatta*

How express the verb "to be" (iru - aru)

You can express the meaning of to be by the verbs asimasu and imasu, and by the copula desu. You can use desu () when one thing is, or is equals to another. You can use arimasu () when you talk about the existence of inanimate objects (here you can include plants, which can't move). You can use imasu () when you talk about the existenece of animate objects.

The negative form of desu can be "dewa arimasen" ( ), "ja arimasen" ( ), "dewa nai desu" ( ) or "ja nai desu" ( ).

Sometimes, you can replace ni arimasu with desu when you describe about the location of something. Many people translate the verb arimasu with: "have", "there is" or "are".

Some Examples:

  • This is central park.

  • Kore wa, chūō kōen desu.

  • The school is between the hospital and the police station

  • Gakkō wa byōin to keisatsu-sho no aida ni arimasu

  • Where is Mr. takeshi?

  • Takeshi-san wa doko ni arimasu ka Many situations need a high degree of courtesy, like employer talking to its manager, the speaker has to use "gozaimasu" instead arimasu and irasshaimasu instead iru.

  • Do you have a phone in this hospital? Yes, we do.

  • Kono byōin ni denwa o motte imasu ka? Hai, gozaimasu.

  • Excuse me, how much is this jeans? It's \A58,000.

  • 8000

  • Sumimasen, kono jīnzu wa dono kuraidesu ka? Sore wa 8000-en degozaimasu

Uses for the verb "desh\F4" ()

This verb comes from desu and has different meaning in different situations for example:

  • When you use it in questions followed by ka, this verb has the same meaning of "I wonder ...".
  • I wonder what this is?
  • Kore wa nan desh\F4 ka.
  • When you use it with a rising intonation, it asks for agreement; and it has the same meaning that ne but it's softer and less direct.
  • This is Mr. Satoshi's book, right?
  • Kore wa Satoshi-san no hon desh\F4. (rising intonation)
  • When you use it with a falling intonation, the meaning of the sentence change to probably, must be or almost certainly.

  • Hokkaido is probably hot now.

  • Fukuoka wa atsui desh\F4. (falling intonation)


Author: Ichika
"新しい言語は、新たな人生の始まり。"
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