Japanese Verb Conjugation
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Japanese Verb Conjugation

This is a list of Japanese verb conjugations. Almost all of these are regular, but there are a few Japanese irregular verbs, and the conjugations of the few irregular verbs are also listed. Japanese verb conjugation is the same for all subjects, first person ("I", "we"), second person ("you") and third person ("he/she/it" and "they"), singular and plural. The present plain form (the dictionary form) of all verbs ends in u. In modern Japanese, there are no verbs that end in fu, pu, or yu, no verbs ending in zu other than certain forms (such as kin-zu), and (, shinu; to die) is the only one ending in nu in the dictionary form.

This article describes a set of conjugation rules widely used in order to teach Japanese as a foreign language. However, Japanese linguists have been proposing various grammatical theories for over a hundred years and there is still no consensus about the conjugations[according to whom?]. Japanese people learn the more traditional "school grammar" in their schools, which explains the same grammatical phenomena in a different way with different terminology (see the corresponding Japanese article).

A revision sheet visually summarizing the conjugations and uses described below

Summary of verb conjugations

Verb conjugates are often grouped into consonant-stems (?, godand?shi)(V5) (type I) and vowel-stems (?, ichidand?shi, , iru and eru forms)(V1)(type II). The plain form of a type I verb has an ? u sound (u, tsu, ru, ku, gu, nu, bu, mu, su), the ~ -masu form has an ? i sound (i, chi, ri, ki, gi, ni, bi, mi, shi), and the negative form has an ? a sound (wa, ta, ra, ka, ga, na, ba, ma, sa). The potential form has an ? e sound (e, te, re, ke, ge, ne, be, me, se) and the volitional form has an ? sound (?, t?, r?, k?, g?, n?, b?, m?, s?).

dictionary form

polite form[i]

negative form[ii]

"te" form

"ta" form
~? -u[iii] ~ -imasu ~ -wanai ~ -tte ~ -tta
~? -tsu ~ -chimasu ~ -tanai
~? -ru ~ -rimasu ~ -ranai
~? -ku[iv] ~ -kimasu ~ -kanai ~ -ite ~ -ita
~? -gu ~ -gimasu ~ -ganai ~ -ide ~ -ida
~? -nu ~ -nimasu ~ -nanai ~ -nde ~ -nda
~? -bu ~ -bimasu ~ -banai
~? -mu ~ -mimasu ~ -manai
~? -su ~ -shimasu ~ -sanai ~ -shite ~ -shita
(~?)? -iru[v] ~ -masu ~ -nai ~? -te ~? -ta
(~?)? -eru[v]
~ -suru ~ -shimasu ~ -shinai ~ -shite ~ -shita
~ -kuru ~ -kimasu ~ -konai ~ -kite ~ -kita
  1. ^ Since the polite ~ -masu form ends with ~? -su, the polite past form mostly follows the ~? -su rules. So for example the polite form of hanasu is ? hanashimasu, and the polite past form is hanashimashita, but the polite negative form is hanashimasen. See other examples of the polite form here.
  2. ^ Since the negative ~ -nai form ends with ~? -i, any further inflection of the negative form will behave as an i-adjective. For example, ? hanasanai "not talking" becomes () hanasanakatta(desu) "didn't talk".
  3. ^ Two exceptions are tou "to question" which conjugates to toute and the even less common kou "to request" which conjugates to koute.
  4. ^ The only exception is iku which conjugates to itte.
  5. ^ a b Not all verbs ending with iru or eru are vowel stems, some are consonant stems instead like hashiru "run" and kaeru "return". A full list of the exceptions can be found here.

dictionary form
potential form
conditional form
volitional form
~? -u ~ -eru ~ -eba ~ -?
~? -tsu ~ -teru ~ -teba ~ -t?
~? -ru ~ -reru[iv] ~ -reba ~ -r?
~? -ku ~ -keru ~ -keba ~ -k?
~? -gu ~ -geru ~ -geba ~ -g?
~? -nu ~ -neru ~ -neba ~ -n?
~? -bu ~ -beru ~ -beba ~ -b?
~? -mu ~ -meru ~ -meba ~ -m?
~? -su ~ -seru ~ -seba ~ -s?
(~?)? -iru ~ -rareru[v] ~ -reba ~ -y?
(~?)? -eru
suru dekiru sureba shiy?
kuru ? korareru[v] kureba koy?
  1. ^ All of the potential forms end in eru or iru so they follow the vowel-stem (?, ichidand?shi) rules. hanaseru becomes ? hanasemasu.
  2. ^ Conditional form is like saying "if ..." or "when ...".
  3. ^ Also called the conjectural/tentative/presumptive form, it is the plain form of ~? -mash?. ~? -mash? is used as an inclusive command ("let's ..."), but becomes an inclusive query ("shall we ...?") when ka is added (? tabe mash? ka "Shall we eat?"). -? to omoimasu indicates the speaker's conjecture ("I think (I will)") and -? to omotte imasu indicates the speaker's current intentions ("I'm thinking (I will)"). -? to suru/-? to shite iru/-? to shite imasu indicates intention ("(be) about to").[1]
  4. ^ The exception is wakaru "to understand" which already expresses ability innately without a conjugation.
  5. ^ a b Note that colloquially the ? ra is dropped meaning these two become ~ -reru and koreru.
dictionary word
polite form
negative form
participle form
perfective form
? arau "wash" araimasu arawanai aratte aratta
?? matsu "wait" ? machimasu ? matanai ? matte ? matta
?? toru "take" ? torimasu ? toranai ? totte ? totta
?? kaku "write" ? kakimasu ? kakanai ? kaite ? kaita
? isogu "hurry" isogimasu isoganai isoide isoida
?? shinu[i]"die" ? shinimasu ? shinanai ? shinde ? shinda
?? yobu "call out" ? yobimasu ? yobanai ? yonde ? yonda
?? nomu "drink" ? nomimasu ? nomanai ? nonde ? nonda
? hanasu "speak" hanashimasu hanasanai hanashite hanashita
?? miru "see" ? mimasu ? minai ?? mite ?? mita
? taberu "eat" tabemasu tabenai ? tabete ? tabeta
suru[i]"do" shimasu shinai shite shita
benkyou "study" benkyoushimasu benkyoushinai benkyoushite benkyoushita
kuru[i]"come" kimasu konai kite kita
  1. ^ a b c The only example of this form. See Japanese irregular verbs for more.

dictionary form
passive verb
causative verb
prohibitive form
imperative form
~? -u ~ -wareru ~ -waseru ~ -u na ~? -e
~? -tsu ~ -tareru ~ -taseru ~ -tsu na ~? -te
~? -ru ~ -rareru ~ -raseru ~ -ru na ~? -re
~? -ku ~ -kareru ~ -kaseru ~ -ku na ~? -ke
~? -gu ~ -gareru ~ -gaseru ~ -gu na ~? -ge
~? -nu ~ -nareru ~ -naseru ~ -nu na ~? -ne
~? -bu ~ -bareru ~ -baseru ~ -bu na ~? -be
~? -mu ~ -mareru ~ -maseru ~ -mu na ~? -me
~? -su ~ -sareru ~ -saseru ~ -su na ~? -se
(~?)? -iru ~ -rareru (~?) -iru na ~? -ro
(~?)? -eru (~?) -eru na
suru sareru saseru suru na shiro
kuru ? korareru ? kosaseru kuru na koi
  1. ^ a b All of these verbs end in eru so conjugation from here follows the vowel-stem (?, ichidand?shi) rules. ? ru can simply be replaced with masu to make it polite.
  2. ^ With all verbs, the prohibitive form is simply obtained by adding -? to the dictionary form. It is used to command someone not to do something. An example is hairu na "Do not enter."
  3. ^ The imperative form can be used as a command, e.g. damare "shut up!", yame "stop!" or tomare "Stop (sign)". Non-volitional verbs (e.g. aru, wakaru, dekiru) have no imperative form and kureru "to give" is an exception that conjugates to kure (the plain form of ~ -te kudasai "Please (do)...").
    A politer way of telling someone to do something is to use (masu stem)~ -nasai instead (e.g. nominasai "Drink up.", ? shinasai "Do (what was said)."), or more informally, (masu stem)~? -na. Imperative form takusan tabena "Eat a lot." Prohibitive form? takusan taberu na "Don't pig out!"

Table key

The conjugation tables below will include the EDICT word class abbreviations[2] to disambiguate classes with similar word endings. See Japanese consonant and vowel verbs for more information about verb groups and their conjugations.

Abbreviation Explanation
adj-i adjective (keiyoushi)
adj-na adjectival nouns or quasi-adjectives (keiyou-doushi)
adj-t 'taru' adjective
adv-to adverb taking the 'to' particle
aux auxiliary
aux-v auxiliary verb
aux-adj auxiliary adjective
v1 Ichidan verb
v5 Godan verb (not completely classified)
v5aru Godan verb - -aru special class
v5b Godan verb with 'bu' ending
v5g Godan verb with 'gu' ending
v5k Godan verb with 'ku' ending
v5k-s Godan verb - Iku/Yuku special class
v5m Godan verb with 'mu' ending
v5n Godan verb with 'nu' ending
v5r Godan verb with 'ru' ending
v5r-i Godan verb with 'ru' ending (irregular verb)
v5s Godan verb with 'su' ending
v5t Godan verb with 'tsu' ending
v5u Godan verb with 'u' ending
v5u-s Godan verb with 'u' ending (special class)
vk Kuru verb - special class
vs noun or participle which takes the aux. verb suru


In Japanese, the basic verb form is an imperfective aspect. It is broadly equivalent to the present and future tenses of English, and is sometimes called the "non-past tense". The imperfective form of a verb is the same as its dictionary form--it is used as the headword, or lemma--and no conjugation needs to be done. For example, using the verb ("do"):

  • () (watashi wa) kaimono suru: "(I) shop", or "(I) will shop". (Japanese pronouns are usually omitted when it is clear about whom the speaker is talking.)
  • () (watashi wa) ashita benky? suru: "Tomorrow, (I) will study".

In most cases, the base form of the imperfective aspect cannot be used to make a progressive statement, such as in the English sentence "I am shopping". Rather, it can only be used to express habit or other actions that are expected to continue into the future, such as in "I shop". To convey the former, the te form with iru must be used.

Patterns for adjectives in an imperfective setting are:

Type of word Pattern Example as a sentence with noun
adj-i -? -i -? -i/- -i (desu), -? -i yasui (cheap) /? yasui (desu) (it is cheap) ? yasui shinamono (cheap goods)
adj-na - -? -da/- -desu, -? -na kantan (simple) / kantan da/desu (it is simple) ? kantan na koto (simple thing)
adj-t - - -taru antan (dark) antan-taru jiki (dark period)
adv-to - -? -to t?zen (entranced) t?zen to shite iru hito (entranced person)


The perfective aspect, on the other hand, has a specific suffix. The basic pattern is the -ta (or -da) ending, but various phonetic changes are made, depending on the verb's last syllable. These phonetic changes are known as onbin "euphony", and the resulting form as onbinkei "euphonic form" - see Euphonic changes ( onbin). The perfective is broadly equivalent to the English past tense, and is often called the past tense in treatments of Japanese grammar, but it is not restricted to any single tense.

Type of word Perfective Examples Perfective
adj-na (casual) ? da (copula) datta (Conjugates in conjunction with adj-i, see below)
adj-na (formal) desu (copula, polite) deshita
- -masu (polite suffix) - -mashita ? ikimasu (go [polite]) ikimashita
vs suru (do) shita ? unten suru (drive) ? unten shita
vk kuru (come) kita motte kuru (bring) motte kita
v5u -? -u - -tta tsukau (use) tsukatta
v5u-s -? -u (See Usage) - -uta, -ota tou (ask) t?ta
v5k -? -ku - -ita yaku (grill) yaita
v5k-s -? -ku - -tta iku, yuku (go) itta
v5g -? -gu - -ida oyogu (swim) oyoida
v5s -? -su - -shita shimesu (show) shimeshita
v5t -? -tsu - -tta matsu (wait) matta
v5n -? -nu - -nda shinu (die) shinda
v5b -? -bu - -nda yobu (call) yonda
v5m -? -mu - -nda yomu (read) yonda
v5r -? -ru - -tta hashiru (run) hashitta
v5r-i -? -ru - -tta aru (be, exist) atta
v5aru -? -ru - -tta irassharu (be, go [honorific]) ? irasshatta
? irashita[3]
v1 -? -ru -? -ta miru (see)

taberu (eat)



adj-i -? -i - -katta yasui (cheap)

? (polite)

? yasukatta


adj-na -? -na - -datta kantan na/da (easy) kantan datta

N.B.: A verb not ending in -iru or -eru in its Latin transcription is not an ichidan verb, and it follows that it is then either godan or irregular.


  • Non-exhaustive list of actions (like A?B is used for non-exhaustive lists of objects) hon o yondari, terebi o mitari shita (I read a book, watched TV, etc.)

Note that the perfective conjugation for verbs ending in -? more commonly follows the v5u-s pattern listed above for speakers of Western Japanese. The ? in the perfective ending - may be pronounced either as an u or as an o depending on the preceding vowel, according to regular Japanese phonological rules. Consequently, in Kansai, one may hear forms such as tsukau -> ? tsuk?ta, or iu -> iuta.[4]

Usage of the perfective aspect follows the same pattern as the imperfective aspect. For example, nihon ni iku (I go to Japan) becomes nihon ni itta (I went to Japan).


The basic pattern is: u becomes anai (informal).

Type Negative Examples Negative
aux ? da (copula) ? de wa nai

? ja nai (colloquial)

(Deviates with adj-i)
aux desu (copula, polite) ? de wa arimasen

? ja arimasen (colloquial)

vs suru (do) shinai

( sanai)

? benky? suru (study)

aisuru (love)

benky? shinai

? aisanai

vk kuru (come) konai
- -masu (polite suffix) - -masen ? ikimasu (go) ikimasen
v5u(-s) -? -u - -wanai tsukau (use) ? tsukawanai
v5k(-s) -? -ku - -kanai yaku (grill) ? yakanai
v5g -? -gu - -ganai oyogu (swim) ? oyoganai
v5s -? -su - -sanai shimesu (show) ? shimesanai
v5t -? -tsu - -tanai matsu (wait) ? matanai
v5n -? -nu - -nanai shinu (die) ? shinanai
v5b -? -bu - -banai yobu (call) ? yobanai
v5m -? -mu - -manai yomu (read) ? yomanai
v5r -? -ru - -ranai hashiru (run) ? hashiranai
v5r-i -? -ru * aru (be, exist) nai
v5aru -? -ru - -ranai kudasaru (give) kudasaranai
v1 -? -ru - -nai miru (see)

taberu (eat)


? tabenai

adj-i -? -i - -ku nai itai (painful) ? itaku nai
adj-na -? -na -? -de wa nai

-? -ja nai

kantan (simple) kantan de wa nai

kantan ja nai

The nai ending conjugates in two ways.

  1. As an i adjective. For example, the past tense of ? tabenai is tabenakatta and the te form is tabenakute.
  2. There is a special te/naide form made by adding ? de which yields naide - this can be replaced with ? zu in formal usage.
    • Requesting someone to cease/desist? tabenaide kudasai "Please don't eat (this)"
    • Joining a subordinate clause: tabenaide, neta "Without eating, I went to bed."

i form

The i form, or ren'y?kei, is very regular, and in almost all cases it is formed by replacing the u with i. Phonetically, this changes ? su to ? shi, and ? tsu to ? chi.

Type i form Examples i form
aux ? da, desu de ari
vs suru (do) ? shi ? benky? suru benky? shi
vk kuru (come) ? ki
v5u(-s) -? -u -? -i tsukau (use) tsukai
v5k(-s) -? -ku -? -ki yaku (grill) yaki
v5g -? -gu -? -gi oyogu (swim) oyogi
v5s -? -su -? -shi shimesu (show) shimeshi
v5t -? -tsu -? -chi matsu (wait) machi
v5n -? -nu -? -ni shinu (die) shini
v5b -? -bu -? -bi yobu (call) yobi
v5m -? -mu -? -mi yomu (read) yomi
v5r -? -ru -? -ri hashiru (run) hashiri
v5r-i -? -ru -? -ri aru (be, exist) ari
v5aru -? -ru -? -i kudasaru (give) kudasai
v1 -? -ru - miru (see)

taberu (eat)

? mi



The i form has many uses, typically as a prefix. These include:

  • To form polite verbs when followed by the - -masu ending? iku -> ?ikimasu, tsukau -> ? tsukaimasu.
  • To express a wish when followed by the ending - -tai tabetai: "I want to eat it", ? ikitai: "I want to go". (The -tai ending conjugates as an -? -i adjective.)
  • To express a strong negative intention when followed by -? -wa shinai? iki wa shinai yo, anna tokoro "no way I'm going someplace like that".
  • To express mutuality when a transative verb is followed by -, which means "to match": uchitokeau: "to open up to each other", ? chikaiau: "to promise each other".
  • To form a command when followed by
    • - -nasai? kore o tabenasai: "eat this", asoko e ikinasai: "go over there".
    • -? -na massugu kaerina "go straight home": nakayoku asobina "play nice". (Used with children, etc.)
  • To express that something is easy or hard when followed by - -yasui or - -nikui: shitashimiyasui: "easy to befriend"? wakarinikui: "hard to understand".
  • To express excessiveness when followed by the verb - -sugiru? nomisugiru: "to drink too much". (sugiru can also be used with the stems of adjectives.)
  • To express doing something in conjunction with something else. When followed by the suffix - -nagara, the verb becomes an adverb that means doing something while doing something else.
    • ? arukinagara hon o yonda: "I read a book as I walked."
  • When followed by the verb - -yagaru in harsher colloquial speech to express affronted contempt (a conjugation of opposite polarity to the honorifics) showing disrespect in the form of hatred combined with haughty/macho disdain for the doer/subject of the action/verb? koroshiyagaru: "to have the <expletive> gall to kill ___" (e.g. without my permission). (The te form can be substituted for the i form.)

The i form also has some uses on its own, such as:

  • To express purpose, with ? ni? tabe ni ikimashita: "I went there to eat". This is called the infinitive of purpose.
  • In formal honorifics such as o tsukai kudasai: "Please use this".
  • In conjunctions in formal writing.

For some verbs, the i form also forms part of related words in ways that are not governed by any general rules. For example:

  • The i form of taberu (to eat) can prefix ? mono to form tabemono (food). Similarly with nomu (to drink) and kau (to buy).
  • The i form of kakeru (to bet) is a word on its own? kake, which means "a bet".
  • hanasu (to separate) can be suffixed to the i form of kiru (to cut) to form ? kirihanasu (to cut off).
  • In most cases, ? or are used to nominalize a verb, but the i form is also capable of that. There are verbs for which this more natural, predominantly composite verbs, such as those suffixed by the abovementioned -.

te form

The te form of a Japanese verb (sometimes called the "participle", the "gerund", or the "gerundive form") is used when the verb has some kind of connection to the following words. This originally came from the combination of the "i" form described above plus the particle "te". For all verbs, it is formed by changing the -a of the perfective aspect form to -e. Adjectives behave slightly differently.

Type Becomes Examples Te form
aux ? da (copula) ? de
vs suru (do) shite aisuru (to love) aishite
vk kuru (come) kite
- -masu (polite suffix) - -mashite ? akemasu (open) akemashite
v5u -? -u - -tte tsukau (use) tsukatte
v5u-s -? -u - -ute tou (ask) t?te
v5k -? -ku - -ite yaku (grill) yaite
v5k-s iku (go) itte iku (go) itte
v5g -? -gu - -ide oyogu (swim) oyoide
v5s -? -su - -shite shimesu (show) shimeshite
v5t -? -tsu - -tte matsu (wait) matte
v5n -? -nu - -nde shinu (die) shinde
v5b -? -bu - -nde yobu (call) yonde
v5m -? -mu - -nde yomu (read) yonde
v5r -? -ru - -tte hashiru (run) hashitte
v5r-i -? -ru - -tte aru (be, exist) atte
v5aru -? -ru - -tte irassharu (be in honorific speech) ? irasshatte
? irashite
v1 -? -ru -? -te miru (see)

taberu (eat)



adj-i -? -i - -kute yasui (cheap) yasukute
adj-na -? -na -? -de kantan na (simple) kantan de


  • In general, the te form indicates that the verb is operating in conjunction with another verb, which may be left out for various reasons and to various effects.
  • In requests with kureru and kudasai. These words may be left off in casual speech, which is usually the reason a sentence ends with a te form. This version of the te form also serves as a light command that is more socially proper than the true imperative.
    • Hon o yonde kudasai: "Please read the book."
    • Koroshite kure: "Please kill me."
    • Tabete: "(Please) Eat."
    • Yonde: "(Please) Read."
  • The te form is used for a reproach or rebuke, to communicate anger or exasperation on the speaker's part.
  • A sentence that ends with the te form may be meant to draw attention, either serving the purpose of an exclamation mark or to indicate the speaker isn't done and may want the listener to have a moment to process, may want the listener to give permission to continue, or may want the listener to infer the rest. The latter case is equivalent to ending a sentence in English with "so..."
  • The te form combined with the dictionary form of "to give" means that there is a favour involved and can be best understood as "doing the favor of". If the te form + "to give" isn't used, the implication is that there's no gratitude.
    • -? -te kureru: Used when somebody does you (or the person from whose perspective is spoken of) a favour.
    • - -te kurete arigatou: "Thank you for (doing the favour of) (for me)". For example, "?" mite kurete arigatou: "Thank you for (doing the favour of) watching (for me)".
    • -? -te kudasaru: Used when a superior does you (or the person from whose perspective is spoken of) a favour
    • -? -te ageru: Used when you (or the person from whose perspective is spoken of) do someone a favour.
    • -? -te morau: Used when somebody does you (or the person from whose perspective is spoken of) a favour that you have initiated. For instance, an order being delivered is a favour (delivery) that directly came about due to an action of the speaker (order). This can be translated with "get them to do (the favour of) (for me)" or "make them do (the favour of) (for me)"
  • To combine clauses or adjectives, as if by the English conjunction "and". It might also serve an explanatory function, in which case it's more akin to "because" or "in order to". Note that, just as with English, the order of the clauses may be reversed to create emphasis, in which case the sentence will end on the te form instead of having it in the middle.
    • ? yakkyoku e itte, kusuri o kau: "(I am going to) go to the pharmacy and buy medicine."
    • ? kusuri o kau, yakkyoku e itte: "To buy medicine, (I am going to) go to the pharmacy."
    • ano hito wa shinsetsu de, atama ga yokute, wakariyasui: "That person is kind, smart, and easy to understand."
    • yasukute ii ne: "It's good that it's cheap." (lit. "Being cheap, it is good.")
  • With the verbs :
    • iru: Forms a progressive or continuous tense. For example:
      • matte iru: "I am waiting"
      • shitte iru: "I know" (lit. "I keep knowing")
      • motte iru: "I have" (lit. "I continue to have")
      • koko ni sunde iru: "I live here" (lit. "I am living here")
      • ? Nete iru: "They are sleeping" / "They keep sleeping" / "They are asleep"
      • Colloquially, in this form, the "i" often disappears (also in the past tense), so matte iru becomes ? matteru and shitte iru becomes ? shitteru.
    • oru: Can express a continuing situation. It is the humble form of iru.
    • oku: To indicate an action in advance of something else. ? obent? o tsukutte oita: "I have made a boxed lunch (for later)". Colloquially, in this form, the "e" often disappears, so tsukutte oita becomes tsukuttoita.
    • aru: This shows that something was left in a certain state, generally one of completion. More implicit than te + oku, there's a meaning to te + aru that the action was done in preparation of something else. Combined with a transitive verb, the combination gets a passive meaning? koko ni moji ga kaite aru: "There are some characters written here". Contrast to "kaite iru", "I am writing", which applies to the person doing the writing rather than what is written.
    • shimau: This implies something is completed or done, usually unintentionally or accidentally or unexpectedly and sometimes expressing that the action is contrary to right or correct action? katazukete shimatta: "I have finished tidying". It can also suggest a regrettable situation? watashi no kagi ga kiete shimatta: "My keys have disappeared".
      The form -? -te shimau is shortened to the very commonly used and casual - -chimau or - -chau with the same consonant doubling as the te form. For example, "I forgot my mobile phone!": "keitai wasurechatta!" "!" The -de shimau form is shortened to - -jau or - -jimau in colloquial speech.
    • miru: It means "to try doing". Understand it as "see if I can do".
    • miseru: It means "to definitely do". Understand it as "show that I do".
    • iku: Can express continuous action or a change of state in the future.
    • kuru: Can express continuous action or a change of state in the past.
  • With particles in formations such as:
    • - -te wa ikenai: "You must not ...". For example, tabete wa ikenai: "You must not eat this". (Other words of prohibition, such as dame, can be substituted for ikenai.)
    • -? -te mo ii: "You may do/It's ok if you do". For example, tabete mo ii: "You may eat it".
    • -? -te mo kamawanai: "You may do/I don't mind if you do"
    • -? -te hoshii: "I want you to do (for me)"
    • - -te sumimasen: "Sorry for making you go through the trouble of"
    • - -te yokatta: "Thank goodness that"


The general pattern is: u becomes eru.

Type Potential Examples Potential
vs suru dekiru

(? serareru)
( seru)

? benky? suru

sassuru (guess)
aisuru (love)

benky? dekiru


vk kuru ? korareru


v5u(-s) -? -u - -eru tsukau (use) tsukaeru
v5k(-s) -? -ku - -keru yaku (grill) yakeru
v5g -? -gu - -geru oyogu (swim) oyogeru
v5s -? -su - -seru shimesu (show) shimeseru
v5t -? -tsu - -teru matsu (wait) materu
v5n -? -nu - -neru shinu (die) shineru
v5b -? -bu - -beru yobu (call) yoberu
v5m -? -mu - -meru yomu (read) yomeru
v5r -? -ru - -reru hashiru (run) hashireru
v5r-i aru ? ari eru/uru
v5aru -? -ru - -ri eru/uru kudasaru (give) kudasari eru/uru
v1 -? -ru - -rareru miru


? mirareru


v1 -? -ru - -reru[5] (colloquial form,

so-called ra-nuki kotoba)




? tabereru


The potential is used to express that one has the ability to do something. Since this is a passive form, what would be a direct object in English is marked with the particle ? ga instead of ? o. For example, ? nihongo ga yomeru: "I can read Japanese" (lit. "Japanese can be read").

It is also used to request some action from someone, in the exact sense of the English "Can you ... ?" For example, ? k?h? kaeru?: "Can (you) buy (some) coffee?" However, sometimes in English "Will you...?" and "Can you ... ?" is used interchangeably to make requests. Though it is possible in Japanese, k?h? kau?, it is very casual and might also mean simply "Are you buying/Will you buy coffee?" in a very dry factual sense.

Unlike in English, the potential is not often used to express permission (as in the sentence "Can I eat this apple?") as it is almost always understood to mean "Do I have the ability to eat this apple?"? kono ringo ga taberareru?. And since the -reru form is more often used in speech than the more standard passive potential form -rareru, and subjects are often implied in Japanese, it may implicitly be asking (in this case) if the apple is edible. So, to seek permission, a more polite form is used, such as the -? -te mo ii or more casual - "-te ii"" usage of the -? -te form, resulting in something literally more like "Is eating this apple OK?" Kono ringo o tabete mo ii desu ka? or Kono ringo o tabete ii?.

The potential -ru ending conjugates as a vowel stem verb.

Consonants and vowels conjugate differently; see Japanese consonant and vowel conjugation.

There is no potential equivalent for ; other constructions for expressing may-be situations are used:

  • Using expression. For verbs: ashita furu kamo shirenai "It may rain tomorrow.", i-adj ryokou wa takai kamo shirenai "The journey is perhaps expensive.", na-adj taisetsu kamo shirenai "(This thing is) probably important."
  • Using adverbs. ? osoraku furu "It probably will rain", ? tabun furu "Perhaps it will rain"
  • (A rather strange and archaic-literary-sounding possibility is by transforming to and then constructing the potential, .)


The general pattern for the passive voice is: -u becomes -areru.

Type Passive Examples Passive
vs suru sareru ai suru (love) ? ai sareru
vk kuru (come) ? korareru
v5u(-s) -? -u - -wareru tsukau (use) ? tsukawareru
v5k(-s) -? -ku - -kareru yaku (grill) ? yakareru
v5g -? -gu - -gareru oyogu (swim) ? oyogareru
v5s -? -su - -sareru shimesu (show) ? shimesareru
v5t -? -tsu - -tareru matsu (wait) ? matareru
v5n -? -nu - -nareru shinu (die) ? shinareru
v5b -? -bu - -bareru yobu (call) ? yobareru
v5m -? -mu - -mareru yomu (read) ? yomareru
v5r -? -ru - -rareru hashiru (run) ? hashirareru
v1 -? -ru - -rareru miru


? mirareru


  • The -? -ru ending of the passives becomes the new verb ending. This conjugates as a vowel stem verb. Thus past, -? -te, or polite forms can all be added to the verb.
  • The copula, ? da, does not form a passive.
  • For the - masu form, the - -masu is added to the passive of the plain verb.


The passive is used:

  • as a passive kono terebi wa Toshiba ni yotte tsukurareta: "This TV was made by Toshiba."
  • as a suffering passive, indicating that a regrettable thing was done to someone watashi wa tomodachi ni biiru o nomareta: "I had (my) beer drunk by a friend" (and I am not happy about it).
  • as a form of respectful language dochira e ikaremasu ka: "Where are you going?"


The causative forms are characterized by the final u becoming aseru for consonant stem verbs, and ru becoming saseru for vowel stem verbs.

Type Causative Examples Causative
vs suru (do) saseru ? benky? suru (study) benky? saseru
vk kuru (come) ? kosaseru
v5u(-s) -? -u - -waseru tsukau (use) ? tsukawaseru
v5k(-s) -? -ku - -kaseru yaku (grill) ? yakaseru
v5g -? -gu - -gaseru oyogu (swim) ? oyogaseru
v5s -? -su - -saseru shimesu (show) ? shimesaseru
v5t -? -tsu - -taseru matsu (wait) ? mataseru
v5n -? -nu - -naseru shinu (die) ? shinaseru
v5b -? -bu - -baseru yobu (call) ? yobaseru
v5m -? -mu - -maseru yomu (read) ? yomaseru
v5r(-i) -? -ru - -raseru hashiru (run) ? hashiraseru
v5aru -? -ru causative not used in honorific speech
v1 -? -ru - -saseru miru


? misaseru


  • The -ru ending of the causative form becomes the new verb ending. This conjugates as a vowel stem verb.
  • Negatives are not normally made into causatives. Instead, a negative ending is added to the causative of the verb. Thus, for example, Tabesasenai: "Do not let eat".
  • Adjectives are made causative by using the adverb form plus saseru.
  • A shortened causative form exists where the final -u becoming -asu for consonant stem verbs, and -ru becoming -sasu for vowel stem verbs.


The causative is used for:

  • Making someone do something: shukudai o saseru: "(I) make (him) do homework".
  • Letting someone do something: soto de asobaseru: "(I) let (him) play outside".
  • With explicit actors: sensei ga kodomo ni benky? o saseta: "The teacher made the children study."
  • The honorific forms sasete morau or sasete itadaku using the verbs morau or its humble equivalent itadaku.

Causative passive

The causative passive form is obtained by first conjugating in the causative form and then conjugating the result in the passive form.


As its rule suggests, the causative passive is used to express causation passively ry?shin ni benky? saserareru: "(I) am made to study by (my) parents".

Because words such as mataserareru are considered to be difficult to pronounce, frequently in colloquial speech, the middle part of the causative passive would contract. That is, mataserareru (I was made to wait), would become matasareru. Another example such as "(I) was made to buy (something)" would formally be kawaserareta from the verb kau, but colloquially, it is frequently contracted to kawasareta. This abbreviation is not used for vowel-stem verbs, nor for the irregular suru and kuru.

Provisional conditional eba form

The eba provisional conditional form is characterized by the final -u becoming -eba for all verbs (with the semi-exception of -tsu verbs becoming -teba).

Type Conditional Examples Conditional
aux ? da (copula) ? de areba
vs suru sureba ? benky? suru (study) benky? sureba
vk kuru kureba
v5u(-s) -? -u - -eba tsukau (use) tsukaeba
v5k(-s) -? -ku - -keba yaku (grill) yakeba
v5g -? -gu - -geba oyogu (swim) oyogeba
v5s -? -su - -seba shimesu (show) shimeseba
v5t -? -tsu - -teba matsu (wait) mateba
v5n -? -nu - -neba shinu (die) shineba
v5b -? -bu - -beba yobu (call) yobeba
v5m -? -mu - -meba yomu (read) yomeba
v5r -? -ru - -reba hashiru (run) hashireba
v5r-i -? -ru - -reba aru (be, exist) areba
v1 -? -ru - -reba miru



? tabereba

adj-i -? -i - -kereba samui ? samukereba
adj-na -? -na -? -de areba kantan kantan de areba
v5 (negative) nai (negative) -? -nakereba ? ikanai ikanakereba
  • na adjectives and nouns are usually used with the nara conditional, instead of with ? de areba.
  • The ? nakereba form used for the negative form can be colloquially contracted to nakya or ? nakucha (this has roots in ?). Thus ikanakereba can become ikanakya.


The -eba provisional conditional form is used:

  • In conditionals where the emphasis rests more on the condition than the result. For example? nani o sureba ii ka - "What should I do?" (lit. "It would be good if I did what?") ; wakareba ii - "As long as you understand" (lit. "If you understand, it is good.") ; ? jikan ga areba, kaimono wo shiy? - "If there's time, let's go shopping."
  • Expressing obligations: The expression nakereba naranai (or in a more formal manner nakereba narimasen), where naru is the verb "to become", means literally "if you don't..., it's no good" or in other words "you must" or "you have to". The negative "don't have to ..." is expressed with - nakute mo ii. For example: Jiko shoukai wa Nihongo de nakereba narimasen ("Your self-introduction must be in Japanese.")

The nakereba negative conditional form means "if not X" or also "unless X". It is obtained by replacing the final -i of the plain negative form with -kereba. (tabenakereba: "if I don't eat" or "unless I eat")

The conditional is also called the "provisional form" in some grammars, because the implied condition is "provided that X happens" (mireba shiru: "provided that you see, you'll know" = "if you see, you'll know").

Conditional ra form

The conditional ra form (also called the past conditional) is formed from the past tense (TA form) by simply adding ra. ba can be further added to that, which makes it more formal.


The conditional ra form can be used in the same way as the provisional eba form. However, it implies more certainty about the condition, and therefore places more emphasis on the result than the condition. It can be used to mean more like "if and when", and is typically preferred over the eba form when this meaning is more accurate. For example:

  • nihon ni ittara, kamera wo kaitai: "If (when) I go to Japan, then (when that has happened) I want to buy a camera."

The conditional ra form can also be used when the main clause is in the past tense. In such situations, it means "when", and carries the additional implication that the result was unexpected. For example:

  • ?kissaten ni ittara, Suzuki-san ni deatta: "When I went to the cafe, I came across Suzuki."


Most of the imperative forms are characterized by the final u becoming e.

Type Becomes Examples Imperative
aux ? da (copula) de are
vs suru shiro

(? se)

? benky? suru (study)

aisuru (love)

? benky? shiro

? benky? seyo
ai seyo

vk kuru koi
- -masu (polite suffix) - -mase irasshaimasu (come, go) irasshaimase
v5u(-s) -? -u -? -e tsukau (use) tsukae
v5k(-e) -? -ku -? -ke yaku (grill) yake
v5g -? -gu -? -ge oyogu (swim) oyoge
v5s -? -su -? -se shimesu (show) shimese
v5t -? -tsu -? -te matsu (wait) mate
v5n -? -nu -? -ne shinu (die) shine
v5b -? -bu -? -be yobu (call) yobe
v5m -? -mu -? -me yomu (read) yome
v5r -? -ru -? -re hashiru (run) hashire
v5r-i -? -ru -? -re aru (be, exist) are
v5aru -? -ru -? -i irassharu




v1 - -iru, - -eru - -iro, - -iyo

- -ero, - -eyo

? kigaeru (change clothes) ? kigaero

? kigaeyo

  • The v5aru rule for polite verbs ending in -ru applies to the consonant-stem honorific verbs irassharu, ossharu, kudasaru, gozaru, and nasaru, whose imperative forms are the same as their irregular i forms.


The imperative and prohibitional forms are used

  • in orders, such as in the military, or to inferiors, or to very intimate friends or family depending on the nature of the relationship (e.g., among very close male friends), or to pets, or in textbook exercises -- highly risky for use by learners until cultural nuances have been well and truly mastered. The te form and the i form are preferable in most cases.
  • in set phrases such as nani shiro: "no matter what".
  • in reported speech, where a polite request may be reported using a plain imperative: kashite kudasai (direct) kase to iwareta (he told me to lend it to him).
  • on traffic signs or mandatory action labels such as tomare: "STOP".
  • in motivational speech, especially when it is perceived as directed at a collective, rather than individual, listener (e.g., ?!? ganbare!, "Do your best!"). As with the first usage, this can come off as brusque and rude if used inappropriately

Volitional, presumptive, or hortative

Type Volitional Examples Volitional
aux ? da (copula) dar?
aux desu (polite copula) ? desh?
vs suru (do) shiy?

( s?)

? benky? suru (study)

aisuru (love)

benky? shiy?


vk kuru (come) koy?
- -masu (polite suffix) -? -mash? ? ikimasu (go, polite) ikimash?
v5u(-s) -? -u - -? tsukau (use) tsuka?
v5k(-s) -? -ku - -k? yaku (grill) yak?
v5g -? -gu - -g? oyogu (swim) oyog?
v5s -? -su - -s? shimesu (show) shimes?
v5t -? -tsu - -t? matsu (wait) mat?
v5n -? -nu - -n? shinu (die) shin?
v5b -? -bu - -b? yobu (call) yob?
v5m -? -mu - -m? yomu (read) yom?
v5r -? -ru - -r? hashiru (run) hashir?
v5r-i -? -ru - -r? aru (be, exist) ar?
v1 -? -ru - -y? ? kigaeru (change clothes) kigaey?
adj-i -? -i - -kar? chikai (near) ? chikakar?
adj-na -? -na - -dar? suki (like) suki dar?
v5 (negative) nai (negative) -? -nakar? ? mienai (invisible) mienakar?


In general, the volitional form expresses intention, such as in these cases:

  • In volitional ("let's" or "I shall") statements? benky? shiy?: "Let's study" or "I shall study".
  • To ask volitional ("shall we") questions ik? ka: "Shall (we) go?"
  • To express a conjecture with desh?: ashita hareru desh?: "Tomorrow will probably be sunny."
  • To express what one is thinking of doing, via omou: ka? to omou: "(I) am thinking of buying (it)".
  • In the form shiy? to suru: be about to or be trying to. Inu ga hoey? to shite iru: "The dog is about to bark."

See also


  1. ^ Rita Lampkin (14 May 2010). Japanese Verbs & Essentials of Grammar, Third Edition. McGraw-Hill Education. pp. 14-40. ISBN 978-0-07-171363-4.
  2. ^ EDICT abbreviation list: http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/jmdict_dtd_h.html
  3. ^ Herr, John [1] Archived 2010-05-22 at the Wayback Machine Nihongo Web. University of Alabama. Retrieved May 19, 2010.
  4. ^ "''? - (&) - !goo" [What is the past tense of "tou"? - Other (Lit. & Edu.) - Tell Me! goo] (in Japanese). 2002-06-18. Retrieved . ?hyeon?->()->()->()->(?)->(?)?+
  5. ^ Eri BANNO et al. Genki--An Integrated Course In Elementary Japanese, volume 2. The Japan Times, 1999, p. 10

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