Japanese Verb Endings

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Types of Verbs

Japanese verbs fall into 4 major classes. While the set of endings used for each is essentially the same, the class of the verb does exert control over any stem changes that occur when adding endings. For information more information please see each class's respective article; this article only explains the basic endings and the purposes served by them.

Type I

Type I verbs include any verbs that end in any of the following:

Verbs ending in may be Type I, or they may be Type II. While there are some exceptions, generally speaking, verbs ending in -aru (がる、まる, etc.) are Type I, while those ending in じる (jiru) or -eru (める、れる、ける、etc.) are generally Type II. Verbs ending in -iru vary, and require rote memorization.

In this article, 書く will be used as an archetype for Type I verbs.

Type II

All Type II verbs end in (ru), however not all verbs ending in る are Type II. As mentioned above, verbs ending in -aru (がる、まる, etc.) are generally Type I, while those ending in じる (jiru) or -eru (める、れる、ける、etc.) are generally Type II. Verbs ending in -iru vary, and require rote memorization.

In this article, 食べる will be used as an archetype for Type II verbs.

Type III

Only two verbs fall into the Type III category: する (suru, to do) and 来る (kuru, to come).

する Verbs

する (suru) verbs are ones that are formed by taking a noun or adjective (customarily a kanji compound) and adding the verb する (suru) after it. The net meaning is usually whatever action is most closely related to the original word (e.g. 死亡 (shibou) = death; 死亡する (shibou suru) = to die).

Tense

Tense indicates whether a verb is taking place in the past, present, or future. Japanese verbs can be explicitly marked as being in the past tense, but otherwise tense can be rather ambiguous due to the blending of the present and future tenses into what is usually referred to the nonpast tense.

Past

The past tense is indicated with the verb ending ~た (-ta). In plain speech, our archetypical verbs would look as follows:

  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書いた (kaita)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べた (tabeta)
  • する (suru) becomes した (shita)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来た (kita)

Nonpast

The nonpast tense is the default for any verb form not explicitly marked as the past tense.

Future

  • つもり
  • はず
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書くつもり (kaku tsumori)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べるつもり (taberu tsumori)
  • する (suru) becomes するつもり (suru tsumori)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来るつもり (kuru tsumori)

Negation

  • ない
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書かない (kakanai)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べない (tabenai)
  • する (suru) becomes しない (shinai)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来ない (konai)

Past

  • なかった
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書かなかった (kakanakatta)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べなかった (tabenakatta)
  • する (suru) becomes しなかった (shinakatta)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来なかった (konakatta)

Conjunctive Form

  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書いて (kaite)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べて (tabete)
  • する (suru) becomes して (shite)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来て (kite)

Conditional Form

  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書けば (kakeba)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べれば (tabereba)
  • する (suru) becomes すれば (sureba)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来れば (kureba)

Provisional Form

  • たら
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書いたら (kaitara)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べたら (tabetara)
  • する (suru) becomes したら (shitara)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来たら (kitara)

Volitional Form

  • おう/よう
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書こう (kakou)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べよう (tabeyou)
  • する (suru) becomes しよう (shiyou)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来よう (koyou)

Potential Form

  • える/られる
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書ける (kakeru)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べられる (taberareru), often shortened to 食べれる (tabereru)
  • する (suru) becomes 出来る (dekiru)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来られる (korareru)

Causative Form

  • せる/させる
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書かせる (kakaseru)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べさせる (tabesaseru)
  • する (suru) becomes させる (saseru)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来させる (kosaseru)

Passive Form

  • れる/られる
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書かれる (kakareru)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べられる (taberareru)
  • する (suru) becomes される (sareru)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来られる (korareru)

Causative Passive

  • せられる/させられる
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書かせられる (kakaserareru)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べさせられる (tabesaserareru)
  • する (suru) becomes させられる (saserareru)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来させられる (kosaserareru)

Imperative Form

  • なさい
  • え/ろ
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書きなさい (kakinasai)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べなさい (tabenasai)
  • する (suru) becomes しなさい (shinasai)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来なさい (kinasai)
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書け (kake)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べろ (tabero)
  • する (suru) becomes しろ (shiro)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来い (koi)

Formality

Plain Speech

  • dictionary form

Polite Speech

  • ます
  • 書く (kaku) becomes 書きます (kakimasu)
  • 食べる (taberu) becomes 食べます (tabemasu)
  • する (suru) becomes します (shimasu)
  • 来る (kuru) becomes 来ます (kimasu)

Honorific and Humble Speech

Basic Constructions

  • お書きになる
  • お書きする

Irregular Honorific and Humble Verbs

Nominalization

Nominalization is the process of modifying a verb such that it functions as a noun. Japanese has two primary ways of nominalizing verbs:

  • Adding the particle (no) after the dictionary form
    • e.g. 描くのが好きです。 (Kaku no ga suki desu. I like to draw.)
  • する Verbs are commonly nouns to begin with, and thus can be used without する (suru) to function as the corresponding part of speech, which most commonly is a noun
    • e.g. 転校って辛いですね。(Tenkou tte tsurai desu ne. Transferring between schools is difficult, isn't it?)
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