The Japanese Verb Form "Te"

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The ~ te form is a useful form of the Japanese verb. It does not indicate tense by itself, however it combines with other verb forms to create other tenses. It has many other uses as well. To make the ~ te form, replace the final ~ ta of the informal past tense of the verb with ~ te, and ~ da with ~ de.

Click here for a list of essential Japanese verbs.

Here are some examples.

  • nonda (飲んだ) - nonde (飲んで)
  • tabeta (食べた) - tabete (食べて)
  • kita (来た) - kite (来て)

Here are some other functions of the ~ te form.

Request: the ~ te form kudasai

  • Mite kudasai. (見てください。) - Please look.
  • Kiite kudasai. (聞いてください。) - Please listen.

The present progressive: the ~ te form iru or imasu (formal)

  • Hirugohan o tabete iru. (昼ご飯を食べている。) - I am having lunch.
  • Terebi o mite imasu. (テレビを見ています。) - I am watching TV.

It is also used to describe a habitual action and a condition.

Listing successive actions

It is used to connect two or more verbs. The ~ te form is used after all but the last sentence in a sequence.

  • Hachi-ji ni okite gakkou ni itta. (八時に起きて学校に行った。) - I got up at eight and went to school.
  • Depaato ni itte kutsu o katta. (デパートに行って靴を買った。) - I went to department store and bought shoes.

Asking permission: the ~ te form mo ii desu ka

  • Terebi o mite mo ii desu ka. (テレビを見てもいいですか。) - May I watch TV?
  • Tabako o sutte mo ii desu ka. (タバコを吸ってもいいですか。) - May I smoke?