This is great, thanks!
Yeah the way Genki categorizes them as う-verbs and る-verbs didn’t really work for me. I watched a video that described them as いる/える verbs in one group (食べる・寝る) and other verbs in the other group (飲む・わかる・話す). It’s the same two categories, but for some reason her explanation just clicked better with me.
Regarding verb groups, well, look at various resources and see what works for you. I don’t know how Genki does it, but the way I usually see/explain them is as follows. (I don’t think I’ve ever tried this on complete beginners, though, so read at your peril. )
Read at your peril
One group is consonantal (stem ends in a consonant), the other vocalic (stem ends in a vowel, which can only be either -i or -e). Examples:
- yom- (to read), kik- (to listen), ar- (to be), hasir- (to run), omow- (to think) are consonantal;
- tabe- (to eat), mi- (to see), tuke- (to attach), ne- (to sleep), araware- (to appear) are vocalic.
All conjugations you will learn consist of a suffix that you attach to the stem. Most suffixes are the same for both groups and follow a very important rule:
- if the suffix starts with a vowel and the stem ends in a vowel, the second vowel (the one belonging to the suffix) drops;
- similarly, if the suffix starts with a consonant and the stem ends in a consonant, the second consonant (belonging to the suffix) drops.
Examples of conjugations:
- Polite non-past active affirmative is -imasu.
- They eat (polite) = tabe+
imasu, the i drops => tabemasu.
- They read (polite) = yom+imasu => yomimasu. (I use they as a generic pronoun.)
- They eat (polite) = tabe+
- Plain non-past active affirmative is -ru. This is where the u-verb vs ru-verb naming convention comes from, as should be apparent below.
- They eat (plain) = tabe+ru => taberu.
- They read (plain) = yom+
ru, the r drops => yomu. Note that omow- should make *omowu, but since Japanese doesn’t have wu, it becomes omou = they think.
- Polite non-past active negative is -imasen, which works exactly like -imasu.
- Plain non-past active negative is -anai:
anai => tabenai they do not eat.
- yom+anai => yomanai they do not read; omow+anai => omowanai they do not think.
- Plain non-past passive affirmative is -rareru:
- tabe+rareru => taberareru they are eaten.
rareru => yomareru they are read.
- Provisional (a kind of “if”) affirmative is -reba:
- tabe+reba => tabereba if they eat.
reba => yomeba if they read.
This works even for advanced conjugations: you learn the suffixes and verb stems. There is a second very important rule that you will learn later regarding some suffixes that start with -it- (they undergo a phonetic change when merging with the stem), and there are a couple of exceptions, where the vocalic and consonantal verbs take wholly different suffixes, but they are few and far in between, so you can learn them on a case by case basis.
P.S.: In the dictionary, it is traditional to list verbs by their -ru form, and to indicate its group in the definition. So if it says “ru-verb” or “ichidan” then drop -ru to get the stem, if it says u-verb or godan then drop the -u.
P.S.’: Note that this scheme cannot be represented in kanas, so a lot of resources choose not to present it this way, which IMHO is a shame.
I appreciate this so much. You honestly explained it so well and I will absolutely be studying this from now on! ありがとうございます！！
Any insights on how to distinguish -ru verbs from -u verbs that happen to end in -ru?
Aside from the fact that vocalic verbs only end in -i and -e? Not really. This question pops up often but the reasonable answer is in fact: you don’t practically need to.
- If you’re practically asking about how to memorise them, just memorise the stem (vocalic / consonantal) or the group along with the dictionary form, if you prefer. You could also memorise the dictionary form and the infinitive (“stem” as Genki calls it), the one with the -i suffix.
- If you’re asking how to look up verbs, well, chances are they will not be in dictionary form when you find them in text, so you will have to guess based on whatever form you actually encounter. If it’s in dictionary form, easy: just plug it in your dictionary! However, there are several conjugations you will see later that just merge for different types of verbs, such that you will just need to guess the dictionary form to look it up. For example, yonda is both the perfect of yom- and yob-.
So yeah, just learn your verbs along with their group and your conjugations well so that when you see one form in the wild, you will be able to narrow down the possibilities. When you see a new conjugation, take note of how it relates to its stem, and then try to match the suffixes when you see them in texts. It’s the same with most languages, really.
The biggest part is as Carvs mentioned, that if a verb does not have -iru or -eru at the end, it will 100% be a -u verb.
So, わかる must be a -u verb because it ends in -aru.
However there are also some -u verbs that end in -eru or -iru: for example 帰る, or 限る.
But there’s another hint to see whether an -iru / -eru verb conjugates as a -u or -ru verb: the okurigana. If you compare
帰る (-u verb)
変える (-ru verb)
混ぜる (-ru verb)
見える (-ru verb)
限る (-u verb)
走る (-u verb)
握る (-u verb)
借りる (-ru verb)
浴びる (-ru verb)
降りる (-ru verb)
You might notice that the -ru verbs have the -i / -e hiragana behind the kanji as okurigana, while the -u verbs only have る directly after the kanji.
With this, you can determine for another good portion of verbs (at least when written in kanji) whether they are -u or -ru verbs.
The only problem remaining are verbs with only two morae:
知る, 要る, 減る, 見る, 切る, 着る
I’m afraid you will have to memorize these.
(I am only aware of one exception: 混じる・交じる, but there might be more, so no guarantees or anything.)
Edit : you made this exact example
I think it’s better to learn it by heart for each i/e verb. for example
切る / 着る are both “kiru” but one is u-verb, the other ru-verb.
Before making complicated rules, for the beginner it’s easier to just learn it forcefully, if you’re more advanced then I think you can start thinking about rules and origins.
Shouldn’t say: “For casual present…” ?
こんにちはみんな！Here are the answers for this week. Hope all is going good with studying! Verb conjugation has been one of the toughest things to learn in Japanese because of all the different parts (dictionary form, present/past, affirmative/negative, stems, etc). I have been studying Japanese for some time and even now there are occasions that I have to rack my brain to remember the right conjugation.
One tip that I would like to pass on, that I wish I had done, is make sure you understand how verb conjugation works before moving on to the next chapter. It will continue to build on this foundation. There were many times that I had to go back to this chapter to re-read the grammar. It’s definitely not bad to continue using this as a reference, but I wish I hadn’t just moved on without fully understanding the information. We can do it though, everyone is so great in this community in helping each other. Thanks all and have a great week!
I don’t see any issue with it.
お茶が飲まない would mean “Tea doesn’t drink.” It’s true, but I don’t think it’s what you meant.
Here are my answer and questions!
５．べんきょうするをしますか。or 学をしますか。 (I think I thought about this too hard now I’ve confused myself)
Since I didn’t get the first one right, I’ll ask another question.
And here are my answers:
For #5…Hmm, since there’s no specification to what we are studying, I think in this case you could just leave it at べんきょうしますか。If you wanted to add a direct object, we could say something like 日本語をべんきょうしますか。
「飲まない」then is an adjective/形容詞?
Honestly, Japanese and English grammar are so different, including what is verb/adj/adverb, that I would try to halt comparing them as soon as possible. The faster you can get out of English mind, the faster you can start feeling Japanese, actualizing it as a part of you.
「が」and 「を」will require some getting used to. It’s generally a good idea, especially in the beginning, to learn the particles with the 動詞. After you get a feel for things, you’ll also understand where it’s okay just to drop the particles entirely.
Strictly speaking, yes, in the typical native understanding of grammar ない in that construction is an auxiliary adjective (補助形容詞) that attaches to the imperfective form of the verb (未然形). But for whatever reason, it does not influence what particles can attach to things the way たい seems to.
This usually isn’t how grammar is taught to non-natives though, and I think there’s good reason for that.
EDIT: Added Japanese terms
It helps to know their -ます forms.
Yeah, I just don’t look at it that way at all. All of these non-masu 動詞 forms can be adjectival, including 無い, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them adjectives. Again, I think it’s best to not think in English grammatical terms.
Well, I mean if you just want to use the Japanese terms, ない is a 形容詞.
But yeah, I don’t consider 形容詞 to be the same as English adjectives, nor 動詞 to be the same as English verbs. So when we’re tossing around the terms “adjective” and “verb”, I think it’s only a matter of time before it gets a little confusing. This is why I advocate moving into Japanese mind as soon as possible, getting a feel for the grammar instead of debating it straight out of Genki I, chapter 3, if you know what I mean.
Thanks, btw, for your illustration.