In the previous lesson, you were taught the basics of Japanese. Now it is important that you learn how to conjugate Japanese verbs. Verbs are a very important part of Japanese, especially since some sentences can be made up entirely of verbs! This can happen in many languages, but in Japanese, it is very common (more common than in English).
First we will learn how to conjugate verbs in the present tense (both affirmative and negative conjugations).
In the chart below, you will find ten basic, common verbs that you will need to learn. Study the chart before moving on.
In order to use some verbs correctly, you must use particles. Particles will mark the object of the sentence. For now, we will focus on the particles を, に, and で. You should use を when you use the verbsみる, たべる, する, かう, かく, and きく. に is used when the verbs いく, かえる, and くるare used. で can be used with multiple verbs, but it is for when you want to say you did something at a specific location. You will see this particle used more later. Some verbs, such as ねる, don’t need particles.
Let’s look at the basic sentence structure again: X は Y です. Now that you are learning verbs, you can replace the です in this basic sentence with whichever verb is relevant. You must conjugate the verb, but then you can plug it into this sentence and add the necessary particles in order to make a coherent sentence. Whichever particle corresponds to the verb you are using should appear before the verb in the sentence. In most cases, it should go after the object and before the verb.
When conjugating verbs, it is important to know that there are three types of verbs: る verbs, う verbs, and irregular verbs. The explanations below will describe how to conjugate each type of verb into the present affirmative and present negative types.
To conjugate a る verb, you must first remove the る from the dictionary form of the verb. After this, you add ます for the present affirmative. If you want to make the verb negative, you would add ません after removing the る instead of adding ます.
The る verbs in the chart above are: みる, たべる, and ねる. Each is conjugated in the table below.
To conjugate a う verb, you must look at the last syllable. Change that last syllable to the syllable with the same consonant but “i” as the vowel. If there is no consonant, change it to “i” like this: る changes toり and う changes to い. Some う verbs can actually end in る, so they can look like る verbs. You must be careful with this! Each time you learn a new verb, learn whether or not it is a る verb or a う verb. You should also look at a conjugation table, just so you can get used to thinking of how to conjugate that verb.
After you change the syllable, add ます or ません appropriately.
The う verbs in the chart above are: かえる, いく, かう, かく, and きく. Each in conjugated in the table below.
Next are the irregular verbs. These two verbs are called irregular because they don’t follow either pattern for conjugation. The two verbs are する and くる. Any verb that ends in する will conjugate as if it were just する (there are longer verbs that end in する, such as べんきょうする). Look at the table below and memorize their forms.
Study the above charts and you will be well on your way to using Japanese verbs!
Below are the kanji for the verbs you learned above. Each verb has been Romanized so that you can tell which symbols were replaced by the kanji. Practice these by writing them over and over again until you have mastered them!
Practice—Conjugate each verb you learned. Use kanji where appropriate. Conjugate into both the present affirmative and the present negative. Check your answers by looking back through the lesson!
*Tip: It may be easiest to practice writing kanji on grid paper. As you get more comfortable with it, you can make the symbols smaller. Sometimes writing the kanji much bigger than you would normally write is easier. Some kanji have many strokes, so it helps to learn like this.