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How to conjugate verbs in Japanese Part Ⅱ


How to conjugate verbs in Japanese Part Ⅱ

Last time Shiho explained the very basics of verb conjugations in Japanese, including the three verb groups (u-verbs, ru-verbs, and irregular verbs) and how to conjugate each group from its “辞書形 (dictionary form)” to the masu- and nai-form.
In this lesson Shiho reviews some of the grammar from Part Ⅰ and explains further about exceptions from previously established rules.

Table of Contents
[Two expressions using “ナイ形”]


In order make the following explanations easier to understand, let’s first of all review some of what we learned last time. Let’s start off with a little quiz – can you guess which group every verb belongs to and how to conjugate it into the dictionary, masu- and nai-form? See the solutions at the bottom.

Q1. わたしはりんごをべたい。
I want to eat an apple.

Q2. 明日あしたふくかいいにこう。
Let’s go clothes shopping tomorrow.

Q3. 週末しゅうまつは、映画えいがようおもいます。
I’m thinking of going to see a movie on the weekend.

Q4. 今日きょう午後ごごいえあそびにください。
Please come over to my house this afternoon.

Q5. 掃除そうじしてからあそびにきなさい。
You can go play once you’re done cleaning.

Q1. Group ②: ru-verb

Q2. Group ①: u-verb

Q3. Group ②: ru-verb

Q4. Group ③: irregular verb

Q5. Group ③: irregular verb


[Two expressions using “ナイ形”]

Now that you have learned how to conjugate verbs and adjectives into their negative form, let’s take a look at two expressions for which you always have to utilize the “ナイ形”.


This fish is not very/particularly delicious.


I don’t have any money at all.

Remember that these two expressions always need to be constructed with a negative. If you for example say “この魚はあまりおいしい”, lots of listeners, even native speakers, may be confused as to what you want to express – is this fish good? Is it bad? So make sure to conjugate the verb/adjective you are using correctly and always use “ナイ形” with these expressions.


Lastly please take a look at the following verbs:

To be in a hurry
To go home, to return

To kick, to reject
To chat, to talk
To slip, to glide

To decrease, to diminish
To twist, to wrench

To shine

To knead

According to the rules we’ve learned so far, you’d think that all of these verbs belong to the group of ru-verbs. Which means you’ve understood how the rules work and is commendable – however, these verbs are all exceptions and actually belong to the group of u-verbs!

And the list of exceptions goes on. Please check the list below for further common verbs ending on ru but belonging to the group of u-verbs:

To know

To cut
To enter, to go in
To run
To grasp, to seize

To need
To be mixed
To restrict, to limit

To fall, to scatter
To chew, to bite
(humble) to go, to come

You will have to remember these words as belonging to the u-verbs and conjugate them to those rules.

[How to determine which group a verb belongs to]
With all these exceptions it may seem impossible to distinguish between the different groups. However, there is a 4-step-flow you can follow to help you determine what group a verb belongs to:

Step ①
Is the verb in question “くる” or “する”?
Yes → It’s an irregular verb!
No → Proceed to Step ②

Step ②
Does the dictionary form of the verb end on “ru”?
Yes → Proceed to Step ③
No → The verb belongs to the group of u-verbs!

Step ③
Is the syllable before “ru” either “i” or “e”?
Yes → Proceed to step ④
No → The verb belongs to the group of u-verbs!

Step ④
Is the verb in question part of the group of exceptions?
Yes → The verb belongs to the group of u-verbs!
No → The verb belongs to the group of ru-verbs!

It is important to be able to distinguish between the different groups to know how to conjugate the verb in question. Therefore try practicing verb conjugations, and you will see, at some point it will start coming naturally to you!

Don’t forget to check out the video on this class and tune in to our livestream every wednesday at 6pm (JST) for the real deal!

単語たんごリスト(Vocabulary list)
復習ふくしゅう Revision
りんご Apple
明日あした Tomorrow
ふく Clothes
週末しゅうまつ Weekend
映画えいが Movie
午後ごご Afternoon
掃除そうじする To clean
あそびに To go out and play, to go and visit (e.g. a friend)
表現ひょうげん Expression
例外れいがい Exception
い・ゆ To go

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