Conjugation Bits and Pieces ... Any Sites that Break it Down?

I’m grammaring away (I’m sure that’s a verb, isn’t it?), and I’ve started to notice some similarities, and wondering if there was a site that encapsulates more of an overarching approach, instead of just “memorize each conjugation”.

For instance, the casual copula (i.e. da, not desu). (And sorry to do it in romaji, I understand hiragana but it’s faster to express my thoughts if I don’t have to flip keyboards for the examples).

Present/future = da, past = datta. Negative is jyanai, negative past is jyanakatta.

So it seems immediately clear that jyana (which I’ve learned is a contraction of the slightly-more polite dewana) signals negativity, and is itself conjugated so that present negativity is dewa-nai, and past is dewa-nakatta.

In formal/polite speech, the negative is dewa-arimasen, and the past is dewa-arimasen-deshita. And arimasen is the negative of to exist, and deshita is the past tense polite copula. And if I can remember that polite form uses sort of a double-negative (dewa, and arimasen), and I can remember the past tense (deshita), I can put it all together. And that’s so much easier than having to remember the string “dewaarimasendeshita” because I tried to do it months ago and it did not go well.

But now that I understand the components better, all is relatively peachy.

So is there a site that shows what the forms are, the bits that agglomerate together (I think I’m using that correctly), rather than simply saying unhelpfully that “dewaarimasendeshita” is the conjugation?

Like, given that desu = is, why does deshyou mean “is probably?” or desuyo mean “it definitely is, I know so!” What are the shyou and the yo doing there? Those kinds of questions.

Or for RU-verbs (ichidan verbs) … their conjugate is -ru, -nai, -da, -nakatta … which is an awful lot like our good friends da, dewanai, datta, dewanakatta. Essentially the conjugation’s the same, if you replace the da or dewa with the verb stem (other than the present tense dictionary form, where you add the “ru” to it), and soften the tta of datta to da …

I find it easier to discover the system and apply it, than to memorize lots of similar but different examples.

Does this make any sense at all? And if so, what sites/books/programs/apps out there organize their teaching a bit like this?

Fingers crossed!

P.S. I’m level 28 Wanikani at the time of writing, which I mention because the profile is always updating as I advance.

1 Like

I’ve tried a lot of the various resources, but none of them have explained it nearly as well as Cure Dolly on YouTube. If you can get past the voice, it’s a remarkable resource.


I’m sure many people can recommend good grammar resources they are using, so I apologize for not addressing the larger question, but was -da supposed to be -ta there?

I don’t know about any grammar resources that do what you described but the romaji was confusing the shit out of me so…

PS the よ in ですよ is just a particle that adds emphasis.


Oops, yes. I misread the bunpro conjugation! Well, that’s even more sensible, no softening of the sound required.

Thank you, and thanks so much for restating it with hiragana. I hadn’t even thought to myself I could write it out, go back and alter it, and thus only have to switch keyboards once! That’s how flustered I get when thinking about grammar :wink:

1 Like

I should have mentioned I love her and am working my way through her videos. The only problem is it’s in video form, not written, so it’s hard to use as a reference for looking things up. But absolutely she’s likely the reason I’m looking to these breakdowns–rather than waiting for Video Lesson 77, “clearing up yet another bit of verb,” I could read it all now :wink:

1 Like

I wasn’t really sure what you meant by this. では is not itself negative. Not trying to screw up your understanding of it or anything, but…

The basis for ではない being a negative copula is the affirmative copula である. It’s possible to just say でない, without the topic particle, but it would change the grammar. The topic particle は is merely inserted into this cluster quite frequently, since using the topic particle in negative statements is quite common.

Of course, it’s become so normal now that it kind of feels like では and ではない etc, are just one solid block of characters that have meaning as a chunk, but when you see である > でない > ではない, you can see how it came to be.

For a bit more info


Just to clarify, you want to know if there’s like a site that says
“Past conjugation: Do this
Potential conjugation: Do this
Present magnetic invariable (Making up a conjugation): Do this”

Then like for example would do it, reading Genki also has that whenever there was a conjugation chapter, I Feel like any textbook would have that.

I’m sure there must also be like big tables that compile every conjugation in just one place.

Not trying to screw up your understanding of it or anything, but…

No, not at all. I’m making guesses in the dark, because most of my textbooks are merely presenting conjugations without explaining why. And sometimes that will just be the case (as in English: why is the “ed” in worked, lifted, sighed, etc. an “ed”? I don’t know, it just is.) But when I see that “I wanted to sing” is expressed as 歌いたかったです I expect that the 歌い means something (the “sing” part), and rather than simply accepting that たかったです means “wanted to” I’m imagine that perhaps た and maybe かった and です are each contributing something individual to the mix. Like “sing-want-past-is” perhaps …

Yes, that’s almost exactly what’s happening… are you just guessing? Do your textbooks not explain what’s happening?

歌う- infinitive verb form
歌いたい - stem 歌い + たい expressing want --> becomes i-adjective
歌いたかった - i-adjective conjugated in the past tense
歌いたかったです - polite form


I get the impression that you might benefit from learning (or reinforcing) conjugations from a Japanese native perspective. For example, you say ない・た・なかった in ichidan verb conjugations resemble the conjugations of だ. Well, they don’t resemble one another. They are the same thing.

Let’s take a single example: past tense. In order to conjugate something into the past tense, you change the word into its 連用形 form, and then attach the auxiliary verb .

Type Example 連用形 Past Tense Auxiliary Full Conjugation
形容詞 楽しい 楽しかっ 楽しかった
だっ だった
ない ない なかっ なかった

It helps to look at it from this perspective, because you’re just doing conjugations and attaching auxiliary verbs as needed. You don’t need to memorize that the negative past tense of a 形容詞 is くなかった. You can look at it as:
楽しい --> 楽しく --> 楽しくない --> 楽しくなかっ --> 楽しくなかった

And to your question of sites to break this down, I of course suggest the site I linked to a bunch in this post. It’s entirely in Japanese, but if that’s too much you can still look at the conjugation tables.


I experimented with charts some time back to illustrate the patterns. This is as far as I got (example shown for godan る verbs):

I’m sure it could do with more work.


Someone on here once recommended this site, Katsu (I think it was the creator?), and I’ve found it super helpful in practicing conjugating verbs and adjectives. It might help you, although I don’t think it was exactly what you were asking for.

I used this site for a long time, and eventually didn’t need it as much anymore. I still struggle occasionally with weird/complex conjugations the first time I have to use them in conversation, but generally speaking I don’t have issues anymore.

My favorite study resources are:
An introduction to Japanese

Aeron Buchanan’s Conjunction Chart

This Cure Dolly video specifically helped me understand how to read Aeron Buchanan’s Chart

Hope these help


These resources are all great and recommended but nothing will cement this in your own head like taking your own notes.

Are you taking notes as you watch Cure Dolly’s videos?

Whether you take them by hand or by computer make sure you are and that way you can make your own conjugation charts as you go through them. That way they’ll click better.

1 Like

If it’ll help any, here’s the subtitles for the first 154 videos.


Thank you :slight_smile:

jyanakatta looks so weird in Romaji lol

It’s ok. If you gotta, you gotta. :wink: It was tough for me at first, but now it’s pretty easy to switch.

For resources, this site is a pretty good conjugation review generator. I prefer this over reviewing the rules since you tend to internalize the pattern after a while:

1 Like

I am … I’ve been assembling my own excel spreadsheet table (as one does), but am also happy to have more resources. This thread has already proven a treasure trove for me! If I haven’t thanked you individually, let me thank you all en masse.