Languages › Japanese Learn How to Conjugate Japanese Verbs Helpful Charts to Guide Verb Conjugation in Romaji Share Flipboard Email Print haya_p/Getty Images Japanese Japanese Grammar History & Culture Essential Japanese Vocabulary By Namiko Abe Japanese Language Expert B.A., Kwansei Gakuin University Namiko Abe is a Japanese language teacher and translator, as well as a Japanese calligraphy expert. She has been a freelance writer for nearly 20 years. our editorial process Namiko Abe Updated February 28, 2020 In this lesson, you will learn how to conjugate Japanese verbs in the present tense, past tense, present negative, and past negative. If you are not familiar with verbs yet, read "Japanese Verb Groups" first. Then, learn "The ~te form," which is a very useful form of the Japanese verb. The "Dictionary" or Basic Form of Japanese Verbs The basic form of all Japanese verbs ends with "u". This is the form listed in the dictionary, and is the informal, present affirmative form of the verb. This form is used among close friends and family in informal situations. The ~ Masu Form (Formal Form) The suffix "~ masu" is added to the dictionary form of the verbs to make sentence polite. Aside from changing the tone, it has no meaning. This form is used in situations requiring politeness or a degree of formality, and is more appropriate for general use. Check out this chart of different groups of verbs and the accompanying ~ masu forms of the basic verbs. Group 1 Take off the final ~u, and add ~ imasu For example: kaku --- kakimasu (to write) nomu --- nomimasu (to drink) Group 2 Take off the final ~ru, and add ~ masuFor example: miru --- mimasu (to watch) taberu --- tabemasu (to eat) Group 3 For these verbs, the stem will change For examples: kuru --- kimasu (to come) suru --- shimasu (to do) Note that the ~ masu form minus "~ masu" is the stem of the verb. The verb stems are useful since many verb suffixes are attached to them. ~ Masu Form The stem of the verb kakimasu kaki nomimasu nomi mimasu mi tabemasu tabe Present Tense Japanese verb forms have two main tenses, the present and the past. There is no future tense. The present tense is used for future and habitual action as well. The informal form of the present tense is the same as the dictionary form. The ~ masu form is used in formal situations. Past Tense The past tense is used to express actions completed in the past (I saw, I bought etc.) and present perfect tense (I have read, I have done etc.). Forming the informal past tense is simpler for Group 2 verbs, but more complicated for Group 1 verbs. The conjugation of Group 1 verbs varies depending on the consonant of the last syllable on the dictionary form. All Group 2 verbs have the same conjugation pattern. Group 1 Formal Replace ~ u with ~ imashita kaku --- kakimashitanomu --- nomimashita Informal (1) Verb ending with ~ ku: replace ~ ku with ~ ita kaku --- kaitakiku (to listen) --- kiita (2) Verb ending with ~ gu: replace ~ gu with ~ ida isogu (to hurry) --- isoidaoyogu (to swim) --- oyoida (3) Verb ending with ~ u, ~ tsu and ~ ru: replace them with ~ tta utau (to sing) --- utattamatsu (to wait) --- mattakaeru (to return) --- kaetta (4) Verb ending with ~ nu, ~ bu and ~ mu: replace them with ~ nda shinu (to die) --- shindaasobu (to play) --- asondanomu --- nonda (5) Verb ending with ~ su: replace ~ su with ~ shita hanasu (to speak) --- hanashitadasu --- dashita Group 2 Formal Take off ~ru, and add ~ mashita miru --- mimashitataberu ---tabemashita Informal Take off ~ ru, and add ~ ta miru --- mitataberu --- tabeta Group 3 Formal kuru --- kimashita, suru --- shimashita Informal kuru --- kita, suru ---shita Present Negative To make sentence negative, verb endings are changed into negative forms with the ~ nai form. Formal (All Groups) Replace ~ masu with ~ masen nomimasu --- nomimasentabemasu --- tabemasenkimasu --- kimasenshimasu --- shimasen Informal Group 1 Replace the final ~ u with ~anai (If verb ending is a vowel + ~ u, replace with ~ wanai) kiku --- kikanainomu --- nomanaiau --- awanai Informal Group 2 Replace ~ ru with ~ nai miru --- minaitaberu --- tabenai Informal Group 3 kuru --- konai, suru ---shinai Past Negative Formal Add ~ deshita to the formal present negative form nomimasen --- nomimasen deshita tabemasen --- tabemasen deshita kimasen--- kimasen deshita shimasen--- shimasen deshita Informal Replace ~ nai with ~ nakatta nomanai --- nomanakatta tabenai --- tabenakatta konai --- konakatta shinai ---shinakatta Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Abe, Namiko. "Learn How to Conjugate Japanese Verbs." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/how-to-conjugate-japanese-verbs-4058457. Abe, Namiko. (2020, August 26). Learn How to Conjugate Japanese Verbs. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-conjugate-japanese-verbs-4058457 Abe, Namiko. "Learn How to Conjugate Japanese Verbs." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-conjugate-japanese-verbs-4058457 (accessed June 21, 2021). copy citation How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Kuru" (to Come) The 3 Japanese Verb Groups Japanese Verb Conjugations: Group One Useful Japanese Verbs All About Japanese Adjectives Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Suru" Expressions of Ability and Potential Verbs in Japanese Frequently Asked Questions in Introductory Japanese Bamboo and Japanese Culture Japanese Children Song "Donguri Korokoro" Using the Verb "Te" in Japanese The Meaning of '-N Desu' in Japanese Japanese Verb Conjugations: Group Two Japanese Verb Conjugations - Matsu How to Say Thank You in Japanese With 'Arigatou Specificity of Japanese Verbs 'to Wear' and 'to Play'