日本語 | Basic Verb Conjugation in Japanese

Verb conjugation is the process of changing a verb to indicate something about it, obeying the grammatical rules of the specific language.

In language, a stem is the main part of the word; the part that holds the most meaning. To change the tense of the word, or to make it negative, parts are added onto the stem (for example, suffixes are added to the end). In Japanese, verbs need to be converted from their dictionary form into the stem before these changes are made.

 

How to form the stem

 

U-verbs: the stem is formed by replacing the -u at the end with an -i.
e.g. iku (to go) 行く→ iki 行き

Ru-verbs: the stem is formed by deleting the –ru at the end.
e.g. taberu (to eat) 食べる → tabe食べ

Irregular verbs: the two main irregular verbs are suru (to do) する and kuru (to come) くる
suru (to do) する → shi
kuru (to come) くる → ki

 

How to conjugate verbs

 

Present tense

Stem + masu ます
e.g.

私は日本に行きます
Watashi wa Nihon ni ikimasu
I go to Japan.

Past tense

Stem + mashita ました
e.g.

私は日本に行きました
Watashi wa Nihon ni ikimashita
I went to Japan.

Negative present

Stem +masen ません
e.g.

私は日本に行きません
Watashi wa Nihon ni ikimasen
I don’t go to Japan.

Negative past

Negative present + deshita でした
e.g.

私は日本に行きませんでした
Watashi wa Nihon ni ikimasen deshita
I didn’t go to Japan.

 

*Any native Japanese speakers, please feel free to make any corrections. This information is based on studying from the Genki series of textbooks (Genki I, 2nd edition).*

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