How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Kuru" (to Come)

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The word kuru is a very common Japanese word and one of the first that students learn. Kuru, which means "to come" or "to arrive," is an irregular verb. The following charts will help you understand how to conjugate kuru and use it correctly when writing or speaking.

Notes on "Kuru" Conjugations

The chart provides conjugations for ​kuru in various tenses and moods. The table begins with the dictionary form. 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.

This is followed by the -masu form. The suffix -masu is added to the dictionary form of verbs to make sentences polite, an important consideration in Japanese society. 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.

Note also the conjugation for the -te form, which is an important Japanese verb form to know. It does not indicate tense by itself; however, it combines with various verb forms to create other tenses. Additionally, it has many other unique usages, such as speaking in the present progressive, connecting successive verbs, or asking for permission.

Conjugating "Kuru"

The table presents the tense or mood first in the left column, with the form noted just below. The transliteration of the Japanese word is listed in bold in the right column with the word written in Japanese characters directly below each transliterated word.

Kuru (to come)
Informal Present
(dictionary form)
Formal Present
(-masu form)
Informal Past
(-ta form)
Formal Past kimashita
Informal Negative
(-nai form)
Formal Negative kimasen
Informal Past Negative konakatta
Formal Past Negative kimasen deshita
-te form kite
Conditional kureba
Volitional koyou
Passive korareru
Causative kosaseru
Potential korareru

"Kuru" Sentence Examples

If you're curious about how to use kuru in sentences, it can be helpful to read examples. A few sample sentences will allow you to peruse how the verb is used in various contexts.

Kare wa kyou gakkou ni konakatta.
He didn't come to school today.
Watashi no uchi ni
kite kudasai.

Please come to my house.
Kinyoubi ni korareru?
Can you come on Friday?

Special Uses

The website Self Taught Japanese notes that there are several special uses for kuru, particularly to specify the direction of an action, as in:

  • Otōsanha `arigatō' tte itte kita. (お父さんは「ありがとう」って言ってきた。) > My dad said "thanks" to me.

This sentence also uses kita, the informal past (-ta form). You can also use the verb in the -te form to indicate the action has been going on for some time up until now, as in:

  • Nihongo o dokugaku de benkyō shite kimashita. (日本語を独学で勉強して) > Up until now, I’ve studied Japanese on my own.

Self Taught Japanese adds that in this example, it’s difficult to capture the nuance in English, but you can think of the sentence meaning that the speaker or writer has been gathering experience before "arriving" at the present moment.

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Abe, Namiko. "How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Kuru" (to Come)." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Abe, Namiko. (2023, April 5). How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Kuru" (to Come). Retrieved from Abe, Namiko. "How to Conjugate the Japanese Verb "Kuru" (to Come)." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 2, 2023).