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•Unit III• (Japanese for Beginners)

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Japanese for beginners – the Verb


I hesitated for a few weeks,what my next lesson to be about. It’s not like I have no idea. Just the opposite. I’ve had many,many teachers until I met a wonderful linguist,Japanese linguist. Yeah,my last teacher was and still is a Japanese linguist.


So,it’s not like I haven’t bumped into different ways of teaching. I myself am a teacher,in some ways.

But lately,I started wondering,what the brain can consume better and easily,to form so called language base.

We’ve talked about the kana,the kanji,the sentence structure,the first step into the language,nationalities and languages,the important ”です” verb,honorifics and introducing oneself.

If one is really following my lessons,they most probably are hungry for more.


I’ve read many books related to Japanese as a language,even history books about the old Japanese. Many had the so called individual way of teaching,and many had similarities. I though want to dart into an easy and unique way of teaching. So,I think it’s time although teachers think it’s early, to introduce you how Japanese verbs work. They are the base and it’s not only in Japanese.


Later on,I will carefully choose texts or even books for children(though surprisingly one of the most hardest books to read are exactly the books for kids) and we’ll step into the language usage.

Remember a thing I’ll tell you as a student,and as a teacher – be confident.

It isn’t only about the language,but in life as well. I am not a native English speaker,but as you see,I play,somehow, well with the English grammar. Even if I am to make a mistake,I won’t panic that someone will laugh at me,or will mock on me. Those who laugh at your hard work,I am sorry for being rude,but they are losers. (:

Build your confidence,I will help you.




Call it simple,if you dare; call it difficult,if you dare. But in Japanese,there is no plural. Alas, the verbs aren’t inflected according to person,to gender,to whatever. They simply have only the tenses you have to memorize,of course a few other usages,but that’s a bit too early to talk about. What I mean,say,in English,let’s inflect the verb ”go”-

”I go”, ”You go”, ”She goes“,”He goes” and so on.


Notice how the verb is inflected in third person. Yes,yes, in Japanese though we don’t have that. The verb stays same way with all persons.


Say,in French, these that speak the language know that in a certain form the verb must be inflected according to the gender. In Japanese we don’t have that either.


How about the regular and irregular verbs? Actually,there are very,very little irregular verbs in Japanese,if I can call them irregular. Why’s that? Well,even in their irregularity they are regular. Ahahaha,yeah,crazy,I know. Mainly the verbs

する(suru) and くる(kuru) will have their ”jumpy” forms to memorize. Yeah,I’ll tell you later their meaning.


What we have in Japanese? Three main groups, in which every verb has its place. Let’s see these groups,their stem,and lastly how the verbs are categorized.


•Irregular verbs – する( to do) and くる( to come);

•Ichidan verbs – All verbs that their ending is either いる(iru) or える(eru); Some are exceptions and go into the last category(godan verbs),but rest assured,it’s stated so by the teachers;

•Godan verbs – All the rest of verbs in Japanese ( with endings, う(u), く(ku), ぐ(gu), す(su), つ(tsu), ぬ(nu), ぶ(bu), む(mu) or る(ru).)


There is a well-known fact that I should mention. If you go ask your Japanese friend about ”Godan” verbs,for example – they’ll have…no damn idea what are you talking about.

You see,Japanese,native Japanese speakers,don’t study the verbs this way. The types of verbs were made for non-native speakers.

Interesting,ne? And,it’s not only about the verbs,but about many other things.


I had so many ideas,how to order the things I should say about Japanese verbs,and these that I shouldn’t say since it’s kind of early for you. But,I decided to make the things into bites.

To not confuse you,I’ll just say the following thing,

As we have the three verb types, ichidan,godan,and irregular verbs – this way we have each of the types with five bases.

Each verb has five bases. A certain tense,a certain form and polite,or impolite inflecting ,yeah,such things are important and so the bases help us to inflect the verb into the right tense,form and even if needed politeness can be showed.


I said, you’ll get awfully tired and confused by this lesson,so I want to make the things into bites.

Let’s talk about the Base II.




As a teacher I want to teach you the polite language. We can always mention the daily bent Japanese,but you need a good base in your Japanese. Here the ”Base II” comes. It’s used to form the polite verbs, the present tense and it’s actually the verb’s stem can be seen there.




Let’s see Base II of godan verbs. To get the Base II stem,you just need to change the ”u” ending vowel to an ”i”. Let’s make some exercises. (:



Kau (to buy) – Kai;

Aruku (to walk) – Aruki;

Isogu (to hurry) – Isogi;

Kasu (to lend) – Kashi;

Matsu (to wait) – Machi;

Shinu (to die) – Shini;

Asobu (to play) – Asobi;

Yomu (to read) – Yomi;

Kaeru (to return) – Kaeri.


See? It’s not this hard. Just like a child’s game. ;D


When you want to turn these stems into the polite form of theirs,just a normal polite verb. Add ”masu” after the Base II.



Kai – Kaimasu;

Aruki – Arukimasu;

Isogi – Isogimasu;

Kashi- Kashimasu;

Machi – Machimasu;

Shini – Shinimasu;

Asobi – Asobimasu;

Yomi – Yomimasu;

Kaeri – Kaerimasu.


Now you have the polite form of these godan verbs,as well the present simple tense(or future tense).That’s right,you have the present simple tense which ends on ”masu”. (:




How about ichidan verbs? They differ from godan verbs. To form the stem,you drop the ”ru” part from the ending. Just a snap,and they are ready for conjugating.



Taberu (to eat) – Tabe;

Miru (to see,watch) – Mi.


Dropping the ”ru” , you have now the Base II of ichidan verbs. Let’s put the in polite form ,adding ”masu” at the end.



Tabe – Tabemasu;

Mi – Mimasu.


Is it hard? (: No,it’s not. Don’t stress out with many verbs,it’ll do no good. Keep it simple until you reach the level when things get a bit harder,but not impossible.


Before we go to the irregular verbs,let’s make two sentences for example with a godan verb and an ichidan verb. I have to show you something very important. (:


Example with godan verb:


(Taka-san wa manga wo yomimasu.)

Taka reads manga.


Now, you see that when we talked about the verb ”desu”,I said ”wa” goes with ”desu”. That was true,and is still true. To form the person ”Taka-san”,or ”you”,”I”,”we”,”they” and so on,we need the particle ”wa”. It’s always stuck right after the main subject.

In our case it’s ”Taka-san wa”,which in English gets only as a translation – (Mr.) Taka.

Just a rule,folks. You must memorize it. (:


Let’s go to our grammatical ”o”,or known as ”wo” -> を



The Japanese particle を (pronounced “o”, not “wo”) is used to mark an object that is affected by a verb. The particle を is placed just after the object modified by the verb, similar to the way the particle は immediately follows the subject.


Simple grammar structure: Subject + は + Object + を + Verb.


Now when we mentioned the grammatical ”o”,or ”wo” – we can move to the next example for ichidan verb.


Example with ichidan verb:


(Watashi wa terebi wo mimasu.)

I watch TV.


If you have questions,leave them behind your head now,and focused on the irregular verbs,folks.




We have to see Base II of the verbs する( to do) and くる( to come); These two verbs have their exceptions more often than any other verb in Japanese. But we won’t talk about it now,I’ll just state their stem and the polite forms,adding ”masu”.


Kuru – Ki – Kimasu


”Ki” is the stem,Base II.


Suru – Shi – Shimasu.


”Shi” is the stem,Base II.


I bet you have met ”shimasu” and ”kimasu”. These verbs are a common thing in the language. It’s good because you’ll meet them often and won’t be afraid that you’ll forget the so called exceptions.(:


That’s all for this lesson,seriously. I hope you won’t confuse things,and things you’ve heard. Because I said I have to avoid things,or else you’ll just get lost in this lesson. So,if you don’t see a thing you know in this lesson,it’s because I skipped on purpose. (:


If you have questions,feel free to ask.

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