Lot’s of people seem to be interested in Japanese. When I was in Japan, I had an extremely good Japanese teacher. She was known as the best teacher of Japanese in the country. Her books are sold in several different countries. She couldn’t speak any other language other than Japanese, but she really understood language. She gave me lots of charts to study with lots of verbs on them. The charts got lost in one of our many moves, but I can remember a lot of what she taught me. There are basically two kinds of verbs in Japanese, the ichidan verbs and the godan verbs. There are only two irregular verbs in Japanese, so if you learn to follow the rules, then you can conjugate anything easily. The two irregular verbs are: suru ( to do) and kuru (to come). Ichidan verbs end with “iru” or “eru” in the infinitive form, and all other verbs are godan verbs. Japanese doesn’t used the same conjugations as English, so you have to learn to think a bit differently to understand Japanese. There is a lot of information, so I am going to have to give you this information in more than one blog. This is the first part.
Examples of ichidan verbs:
Infinitive form and meaning: You can find this form in the dictionary. This is the form used in the middle of a sentence. If you use it at the end of a sentence for simple present tense, they will understand, but you will be considered extremely rude. My Japanese teacher used to call this form “jikibi no katachi” which means “dictionary form.” If you look a verb up in the dictionary, you will get this form, and if you follow the rules I will give you, you can do whatever you want with that verb as long as it is a form the Japanese use and not one from your first language. You have to learn to think differently to speak Japanese.
taberu= to eat, iru= to be (for a person), miru – to see, neru = to sleep, kiru = to wear or put on, dekiru = to be able to, oboeru = to remember, yameru= to stop, tasukeru = to help, oshieru = to teach, deru = to exit, ireru = to put in, okiru = to get up, to wake up, to rise, ageru = to give, to lift or raise, ukeru = to receive, hajimeru = to begin or start, wasureru = to forget, koaeru = to answer, tsukareru = to get tired.
The “masu” form: This form is used for simple present tense and future tense. Things like this are what makes basic Japanese conversation easier. Just take the “ru” off and replace it with “masu.” In Japanese, you can leave the subject out, and each of these verbs could be considered a sentence, and you just understand the subject from the context.
eat, eats=tabemasu, is, am, are =imasu, look, looks, see, sees= mimasu, sleep, sleeps = nemasu, wear, wears, put on, puts on = kimasu, can, is able to, are able to, am able to = dekimasu, remember, remembers = oboemasu, stop, stops = yamemasu, help, helps = tasukemasu, teach, teaches = oshiemasu, exit, exits, go out, goes out = demasu, puts in, put in, insert, inserts = iremasu, get up, gets up, rise, rises, wake up, wakes up= okimasu, give, gives, lift, lists, raise, raises= agemasu, receive, receives = ukemasu, begin, begins, start, starts= hajimemasu, forget, forgets = wasuremasu, answer, answers, respond, responds = koaemasu, get tired, gets tired = tsukaremasu.
Questions form for simple present tense and future tense: Just add “ka” to the end of the verb. Examples: wasuremasuka? = Do you forget?/ tsukaremasuka? or Will you forget? = Do you get tired? or Will you get tired? or Will I get tired?/ demasuka? = Do you go out? or Does he go out? or Do I got out? or Do we go out? or Will we go out? or Will you go out? or Will I go out?
The “mashita” form: This is a polite past tense. Don’t be looking for all the past tenses we have in English, because this is what they have for past tense. Again, these can be used as a sentence just like they are, and people just assume the subject.
ate= tabemashita, was, were= imashita, looked, saw = mimashita, slept = nemashita, wore, put on = kimashita, could = dekimashita, remembered = oboemashita, stopped = yamemashita, helped = tasukemashita, taught = oshiemashita, exited, went out = demashita, put in, inserted =iremashita, got up, rose, woke up = okimashita, gave, lifted, raised = agemashita, received= ukemashita, began, started = hajimemashita, forgot = wasuremashita, answered, responded = koaemashita, got tired = tsukaremashita.
Question for for past tense: Again, just add “ka.” tsukaremashitaka? = Did you get tired?/ tabemashitaka? = Did you eat? / nemashitaka? = Did you sleep?/ tasukemashitaka? = Did you help? or did I help? or Did he help? or Did we help? or Did they help?..
An alternate Past Tense: This is another past tense. It means the same as the other. The only difference is this is not as polite as the first one. I recommend the “mashita” form, but you will here this form too. You just put “ta” instead of “mashita.”
ate = tabeta, looked, saw = mita, put on, dressed = kita, helped = tasuketa, taught = oshieta, etc.
A Negative form: This is the polite negative form. It is for simple present tense, and all you do is take the “masu” and make it into “masen.”
don’t eat, doesn’t eat = tabemasen, wasn’t, weren’t = imasen, doesn’t see, don’t see, doesn’t look, don’t look = mimasen, doesn’t teach, don’t teach = oshiemasen, doesn’t start, don’t start, doesn’t begin, don’t begin = hajimemasen.
Past tense negative: Again, you take the “mashita” and change it to “masendeshita.”
didn’t eat = tabemasendeshita. didn’t begin, didn’t start= hajimemasendeshita. didn’t sleep = nemashendeshita, didn’t see, didn’t look = mimasendeshita.
Another past tense form: If you use this past tense at the end of the sentence, it is considered impolite, but you will hear people doing it. You need to know this past tense because it comes inside of the sentence, and it is used to build other forms of the verb. Remember to pronounce the vowels separately. For example, “mianai” is pronounced: “mee–ah–na-eey.”
don’t eat, doesnt eat = tabenai, doesn’t look, don’t look, doesn’t see, don’t see = mianai, doesn’t teach, don’t teach = oshienai, doesn’t forget, don’t forget = wasuranai. can’t, isn;t able to, aren’t able to, am not able to = dekinai.
The “te” form: You need to know the “te” form because it is base for the present progressive, past progressive, and request form. To make the present progressive, just use the “te” form and “imasu.” To make it past progressive, us the “te” form and add “imashita.” To make it a request form, use the “te” form and add “kudasai.”
I am eating, you are eating, he is eating = tabete imasu. I was eating, he was eating, you were eating, we were eating, etc. = tabete imashita. Please eat = tabete kudasai.
I am beginning, you are beginning, he is beginning = hajimete imasu. I was beginning, he was beginning, we were beginning, etc. = hajimete imashita. Please begin = hajimete kudasai.
I am sleeping, you are sleeping, he is sleeping, they are sleeping = nete imasu. I was sleeping, they were sleeping, etc. = nete imashita. Please sleep = nete kudasai.
I am teaching, you are teaching, he is teaching, etc. = oshiete imasu. I was teaching, you were teaching, etc. = oshiete imashita. Please teach = oshiete kudasai.
Please don’t do it form: You will need the negative “nai” form and the “te” form changed to “de” combined with the “kudasai.”
Please don’t eat = tabenai de kudasai. Please don’t be able to do it= dekinai de kudasai. Please don’t teach = oshienai de kudasai. wasuranai de kudasai = please don’t forget. Please don’t look = minai de kudasai. Please don’t get up = okinai de kudasai.
The “want to” form: If you want to say you want to do something, just use the same form you use if you are making an impolite negative verb, and put “tai” instead of “nai.” “I want to eat” = tabetai. I want to teach = oshietai. I want to sleep = netai. I want to begin = hajimetai.
“Must” or “have to” form: This form seems long, but once you learn one ending, it is all the same. It has a double negative to make it an imperative. You take the “nai” form, and turn it into “na” instead of “nai,” next, you put “kereba” which is a kind of “if,” ten you use the “masen” fomr on the end. Remember, the pronoun is not included, but they guess at the pronoun.
has to or have to eat = takbena kereba narimasen. has to or have to sleep = nena kereba narimasen. has to or have to stop = yamena kereba narimasen. has to or have to see = mina kereba narimasen. has to or have to forget = wasurana kereba narimasen.
The “can” form: In English, all we do is take the infinitive of the verb and put “can” before a verb to say we can do something. It looks more complicated in Japanese, but all you have to do is learn the pattern, and use it will all the verbs. You use the infinitive form (jiki no katachi), then you put “kotoga,” then put “dekimasu” which means “can do.”
can eat = taberu kotoga dekimasu. can teach =- oshieru kotoga dekimasu. can forget = wasureru kotoba dekimasu. can remember = oboeru kotoga dekimasu. can look or can see = miru kotoga dekimasu. can get up = okiru kotoga dekimasu.
The “can’t” form: This is easy if you know the “can” form and can make “dekimasu” negative.
can’t eat = taberu kotoga dekimasen. can’t teach = oshieru kotoga deimasen. can’t forget= wasureru kotoga deimasen. can’t remember = oboeru kotoga dekimaen. can’t look or can’t see = miru kotoga dekimasen. can’t get up = okiru kotoga dekimasen.
What form do you use if you want to use a “when” clause? Remember, at the beginning, I said you needed the “jikibiki no katachi” or the infinitive form if you wanted to put a verb inside of a sentence. If you want to say, “When you eat,” say “taberu no toki ni.” Just use the infinitive form and say “no toki ni” for “when.” “Toki” actually means “time,” “ni” means “at,” and “taberu no toki ni” literallly means, “at the time of eating.” “dekiru no toki ni,” means, “when you can do it,” or “when I can do it.” etc.
Which form do you use to say “if”? If you are talking about a verb, use “ba.” at the end of the infinitive form of the verb after you take the final “u” off and change it to “e,” then add “ba” to the end of the verb: if you get up = okireba, if you look = mireba, if you can do it = dekireba. “Wasureru” becomes “wasurereba.”
There is so much more that can be said about verbs. These are just some basic forms of the ichidan verbs. In the next blog, I will tell you what to do with the godan verbs. If you learn these forms. You won’t know everything in Japanese, but you will be able to get around and communicate. You will be able to carry on conversations if your vocabulary commensurates with the amount of verb knowledge your have. You need about 800 words to begin speak, and understanding