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Part 4: Verbs and Adjectives

About Verbs

Japanese verbs are, in a lot of ways, easier to conjugate than English verbs. Japanese verbs always occur at the end of the sentence and they do not change for person, number, gender, or whatever the subject of the sentence may be. Also, there are only two irregular Japanese verbs and only a handful of irregular conjugations in others verbs.

Japanese verbs have many conjugated forms, but they are usually defined by their Dictionary form(which is how they are listed in the dictionary.) In their Dictionary form, all verbs end with an -u syllable sound which is the part, or base, that is conjugated(and written in hiragana.) The first part, or stem, holds the real meaning of the verb and does not change in conjugation(and is written in kanji.) In the sample below, the stem of the verb is in plain text and the base is in bold.

aruku = (I) walk(this is the Dictionary form)

aruita = (I) walked

arukeru = (I) can walk

arukitai = (I) want to walk

Japanese verbs are generally classified into three different catergories: Yodan, Ichidan, or Irregular. Yodan verbs(sometimes called Regular 1 verbs) end with one of the following bases: -u, -ku, -gu, -su, -tsu, -ru, -mu, -nu, or -bu. Ichidan verbs(sometimes called Regular 2 verbs) end with either -iru or -eru. As for Irregular verbs, there are only two: "kuru"(come) and "suru"(do.) They are called irregular because they do not conjugate like other -ru verbs.

Verb Conjugation

In the lists below, I've shown how all the different kinds of verbs are conjugated in the seven basic conjugation forms. Just to make it clear, the stem of each verb is in plain text, the base is in bold, and the conjugated ending which gives the verb meaning is in parentheses. I use "I" as the subject but you can use any subject you want("he," "she," "they," etc.) Like I said, the subject of the sentence does not change the way the verbs are conjugated.

Note: I only cover the most basic verb conjugations in this section. Besides what I've listed here, there are many other ways to conjugate verbs. Also, there's a lot more to be said about each of the seven conjugation forms than just what I have here. But it would be way too much for me to cover everything about Japanese verbs. So if you really want to learn about them in more detail, you'll have to find another source ^^,,,

Yodan Verbs

All Yodan verbs generally follow the same pattern, which you'll probably notice as you read through their different conjugations. You'll also notice that the bases of the first five conjugation forms follow the order of the Japanese vowel sounds(-a, -i, -u, -e, -o) so that makes them a bit easier to memorize.

-KU Verbs

sample verb: kaku = write

-GU Verbs

sample verb: oyogu = swim

-SU Verbs

sample verb: sagasu = search

-TSU Verbs

sample verb: matsu = wait

-NU Verbs

sample verb: shinu = die

*"shinu" is the only -nu verb*

-BU Verbs

sample verb: hakobu = carry

-MU Verbs

sample verb: yasumu = rest

-RU Verbs

sample verb: hashiru = run

-U Verbs

sample verb: au = meet

Ichidan Verbs

Ichidan verbs conjugate differently than Yodan verbs. A big difference is that there's no base for their Negative and Conjunctive forms. Also, be careful not to get them mixed up with Yodan -ru verbs.

-IRU Verbs

sample verb: miru = see

-ERU Verbs

sample verb: ageru = give

Irregular Verbs

kuru = come

suru = do

Verb List

Here's a list of some common Japanese verbs. See if you can conjugate them youself! ^.^

Yodan verbs

Motsu = Hold

Kau = Buy

Iu = Say

Hanasu = Speak

Yobu = Call

Yomu = Read

Utau = Sing

Ugoku = Move

Aruku = Walk

Omou = Think, Feel

Asobu = Play

Kiku = Listen

Noru = Get on, Ride

Narau = Learn

Uru = Sell

Naku = Cry

Warau = Laugh, Smile

Ganbaru = Do one's best, Hold on

Tatsu = Stand

Iku = Go

Suwaru = Sit

Tsukau = Use

Hairu = Enter

Kesu = Erase

Katsu = Win

Chigau = Be wrong

Umu = Give birth

Tobu = Fly

Kaeru = Return, Go back

Shiru = Know

Owaru = End

Korosu = Kill

Saku = Bloom

Naru = Become

Isogu = Hurry

Wakaru = Understand, Know

Ichidan verbs

Akeru = Open

Shimeru = Close

Dekiru = Be able to

Oshieru = Tell, Teach

Todokeru = Deliver

Taberu = Eat

Deru = Leave, Exit

Miseru = Show

Okiru = Get up

Kotaeru = Answer

Yameru = Stop, Resign

Shinjiru = Believe, Trust

Kanjiru = Feel, Sense

Nigeru = Run away, Escape

Wasureru = Forget

Tasukeru = Save

Akirameru = Give up

Hajimeru = Begin

Tsuzukeru = Continue

Umareru = Be born


There are two different kinds of Japanese adjectives: -i adjectives and -na adjectives. Like the verbs, the first part, or stem, of Japanese adjectives is written in kanji, and the ending, or base, which is the part that is conjugated(either -i or -na) is written in hiragana. Below I've shown how each of the two kinds of adjectives is conjugated and used in a simple sentence. The stem is in plain text and the base is in bold. I use "hana"(flower) as the subject of the sentences, but just like the verbs, you can use any subject you want and it won't change the conjugation. And again, there's way more to Japanese adjectives than just what I have here. Like the verb section, this page only covers the basic stuff ^^,,,

-I Adjectives

sample adjective: oukii = big

-NA Adjectives

*to conjugate -na adjectives, you simply drop the -na ending(and conjugate "desu" the "to be" verb instead.) The only time you'll include the -na ending is when the adjective is modifying a noun.

sample adjective: kireina = pretty, clean

Adjective List

Here's a list of some common Japanese adjectives. Try your luck at conjugating them!

-I adjectives

Oukii = Big

Chiisai = Small

Atsui = Hot

Tsumetai = Cold

Samui = Cold(weather only)

Takai = High, Tall, Expensive

Hikui = Low, Short

Yasui = Cheap

Segatakai = Tall(used for people)

Segahikui = Short(used for people)

Atatakai = Warm

Suzushii = Cool

Omoi = Heavy

Karui = Light

Akarui = Bright

Kurai = Dark

Semai = Narrow

Hiroi = Wide

Mazui = Not tastey

Oishii = Tastey, Delicious

Hayai = Fast

Osoi = Slow

Akai = Red

Aoi = Blue

Kuroi = Black

Shiroi = White

Chairoi = Brown

Kiiroi = Yellow

Atarashii = New

Furui = Old

Wakai = Young

Toshiyori = Old(for people)

Warui = Bad

Omoshiroi = Interesting, Funny

Tsumaranai = Boring

Muzukashii = Difficult

Yasashii = Gentle, Easy

Tooi = Far, Distant

Chikai = Close

Abunai = Dangerous

Itai = Painful

Amai = Sweet

Suppai = Sour

Isogashii = Busy

Tanoshii = Pleasant, Fun

Yakamashii = Noisy

-NA adjectives

Jyouzuna = Skilled

Hetana = Not skilled

Shinsetsuna = Kind, Helpful

Fushinsetsuna = Unkind

Shizukana = Quiet

Nigiyakana = Lively

Yuumeina = Famous

Himana = Free

Genkina = Well, Cheerful

Benrina = Convenient

Fubenna = Inconvenient

Anzenna = Safe

Daijina = Important

Sukina = Likable

Kiraina = Unlikable

Shitsureina = Rude

Damena = No good

Fushigina = Mysterious, Strange

Onto Part 5: Honorifics and Politeness Levels

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