中級日本語ー Basic Japanese Verb Forms in Japanese

October 25, 2010 § Leave a comment

Japanese Verb

Verbs as we all know are “action words”. Like in all other languages of the world, Japanese verbs hold a very important place in Japanese grammar. Verbs in Japanese language are called “doushi” It is a rule in Japanese language that a sentence should end with a verb. The sentence structure is always [Subject] [Object] [Verb].

Verbs in Japanese are divided into three groups, which are 

  • Group 1 called “godandoushi”.
  • Group 2 called “ichidandoushi.
  • Group 3 called “fukusoku”.

Following are the lessons, which would further give you information about the different forms of verbs, the rules that they need to follow while changing their form and the various uses of each.

The meaning of the word “godandoushi” is: “go” means five; “dan” means steps/ stairs; “doushi” means verbs. Therefore, this means that the verbs from this group change their pattern/ form 5 times. E.g. the word iku meaning “to go” can be changed into ika, iki, iku, ike and ikou.

The meaning of the word “ichidan doushi” is: “ichi” means one; “dan” means steps/ stairs; “doushi” means verbs. Therefore, the pattern of the verbs in this group changes only once.

The third group that is called “fukusoku” consists of only two verbs. These two verbs do no follow any rules to change their pattern. Their patterns are already fixed and do not undergo any changes.

Japanese verbs are of two types namely plain form and polite form. All the above three groups of verbs are included in both these types. Polite form of the verb is further divided into four forms which are “masu kei (masu form)”, “masen kei (masen form)”, “kakokei (mashita form)”, “masendeshita kei (masendeshita form)”. “Kei” in English means “form”. 

When a verb has its end as “masu” then it is called as the “masu form. This form is the present/ future affirmative tense or a verb. In the same way when a verb ends in “masen” it is called a “masen form”. This is the present/ future negative tense of a verb. A verb ending with “mashita” is called “mashita form. This is the past affirmative tense of a verb. Finally, a verb ending in “masen deshita” is called as a “masen deshita form”. This is the past negative tense of a verb.

The polite form is also divided into 5 forms namely the root verb or dictionary form, “te kei” (te form), “ta kei” (ta form), “nai kei” (nai form), “naide kei” (naide form). “te kei” is used as present/ future tense. This for of verb has many different uses in grammar. Verbs of this form end either in “te” or in “de”. “ta kei” is used as past tense and is used in different ways in Japanese grammar. The ending of this form of verb is always “ta”. “nai kei” is used as a negation and end in “nai”. “naide kei” has only one use and ends in “nai de”. Another form of verb that is not a part of either the plain form or polite form is the stem form of the verb.

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