Grammar Doubt 3!

Sorry I’m just going to keep numbering the topics for later use haha. My doubt for today is when do we know what to put after an u-verb while using the long form “masu”?

For example, how do we convert kaesu and asobu to the masu form? Sorry if this was a dumb question :joy:

Thanks in advance!

See this article: How to Conjugate Japanese Stem Form.

Both 返す and 遊ぶ are godan verbs, which when conjugated, shift the /u/ ending kana, to an /a/, /i/, /e/, or /o/ ending kana. To conjugate into polite form, you shift the vowel from /u/ to /i/, so す→し, and ぶ→び.

So the stem form of 返す is かえ + the consonant /s/, and 返す becomes 返し + ます! If we do the same process for 遊ぶ, the stem form is あそ + the consonant /b/, so 遊ぶ becomes 遊び + ます!


Jisho also has the “Show Inflections” link on the side of verbs, so you can just click that and see the main inflections.


For my learning purposes I actually split verbs into more groups than the standard ichidan and godan, so perhaps this may come in handy to you:

写す「うつす」        写した        写します    写しました        to copy
沸かす「わかす」      沸かした       沸かします  沸かしました      to heat up
放す「はなす」        放した        放します    放しました        to free sth

広がる「ひろがる」     広がった      広がります  広がりました       to extend
放る「はなる」        放った        放ります    放りました        to be free
座る「すわる」        座った        座ります    座りまた          to sit

切れる「きれる」      切れた        切れます    切れました        to be cut
見分ける「見分ける」   見分けた      見分けます  見分けました       to distinguish
生える「はえる」      生えた        生えます    生えました        to sprout

です「です」        だった        です        でした         to be (coppola)
来る「くる」        来た        来ます        来ました        to come
する「する」        した        します        しました        to do

引く「ひく」        引いた        引きます    引きました        to pull
泳ぐ「およぐ」      泳いだ        泳ぎます    泳ぎました        to swim
開く「あく」        開いた        開きます    開きました        to be open

笑う「わらう」        笑った        笑います    笑いました        to laugh
歌う「うたう」        歌った        歌います    歌いました        to sing
違う「ちがう」        違った        違います    違いました        to differ

生む「うむ」        生んだ        生みます    産みました        to give birth
遊ぶ「あそぶ」      遊んだ        遊びます    遊びました      to play (games)
死ぬ「しぬ」        死んだ        死にます    死にました        to die

打つ「うつ」        打った        打ちます    打ちました        to hit
育つ「そだつ」      育った        育ちます    育ちました        to be raised
持つ「もつ」        持った        持ちます    持ちました        to hold

I keep it in Google Docs so if people are interested, I can share it :slight_smile: .

Once you drill each group, you’ll start noticing a phonetic pattern and assigning new verbs to groups will become a lot easier.


oh this is comprehensive thank you!!

You can use Short Grammar Questions for these questions if you want.


This looks awesome, could you share the whole doc?

Here’s the doc: Verbs - Google Docs

Hmm we could also pin it somewhere so other people can use it, too?

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Please, just us the general thread for your grammar concerns. There is no need to post a new topic every time you have a question.

There is also the Short Language question thread for misc questions


sorry! I’ll do that next time thanks :blush:

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It’s no biggie! ^^ I didn’t find those threads in time for my first posts like that. But, it’s good to know people post there. I mean, you can also read the threads as they’re full of tips and tricks! ^>^

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@sanjanag I’ll try to break this down by consonant group so hopefully the pattern is more explicit. I’ll be using some rōmaji because these patterns are easier (for English speakers) to see when the stem vowel can be separated from the consonant. Honestly though, I’d be surprised if most beginners’ textbooks don’t have some version of this table somewhere for the 〜た forms of godan verbs. Mine did. Then again, that was a weekly summary lesson that was meant to teach conjugation. Maybe other beginners’ textbooks don’t aim to get students conjugating independently fast… Also, the rule is the same for both the 〜て and 〜た forms of verbs, so be sure to use this knowledge to its fullest potential.

If I’m not wrong, the way the conjugations worked historically was that the い form of the verb (aka the masu-stem that we see in front of ‘masu’ all the time) would have て or た attached to it. Over time, pronunciation changes occurred, and we ended up with what we have now.

Irregular verbs
I’ll just get these out of the way since they’re both fairly important and fairly rare (as a proportion of all verbs, regardless of frequency). There are only three main ones: する、来る and 行く. You could add だ・である・です to this list, but that’s really just a special application of ある. There are a few other verbs that are irregular but only in the 〜て・た forms, like 問う, but you can just learn those as exceptions to the rules when you come across them. In any case, learn the conjugation patterns for these three as well as you can through whatever means necessary. To help yourself, you can probably look for similarities between these verbs and godan or ichidan patterns, like how a stem ending in い seems to do most of the work for all three, but they’re still irregular overall.

Ichidan verbs
These are the words with only one stem, to which you attach whatever you’re supposed to attach (ます、た、て、other verb to form a compound verb etc). One of the most common examples is 食べる.

Godan verbs
They’re called ‘godan’ (五段) because they have five stems: negation (-A), infinitive/masu (-I), end-of-sentence/noun-modifying (-U), command/imperative (-E), volitional (-O). You can find out what each of these stems is for on Wikipedia or Wikiversity, but if that doesn’t interest you right now, or it seems too technical, don’t worry about it: you’ll come across these forms as you study.

As far as the 〜て・た forms go, there are three broad categories. (You can skip all my explanations and just read the headings in bold, if you prefer):

The endings that become little っ – つ・る・う: historically, they would have been ちて、りて and ひて (most modern -う verbs used to end in -ふ). I’m not sure how you’ll remember this group… You could say

  • うつる is a verb that is in this group (I leave you to pick exactly which うつる you want, because there are at least two)
  • つる means ‘crane’. Maybe you can lengthen the last syllable for fun in your head (つるー), or go, ‘Ooooh (う), tsuru!’ (‘Ooooh, a crane!’) and imagine the little っ is the crane’s foot or crest.
  • Big つ becomes little っ. Logical. R is a sound that often gets reduced in Japanese, so it’s not strange that, say, 売りて became 売って (‘selling’/‘sell and…’). For the I vowel alone… try saying いひて(言ひて)really fast. Don’t you feel like it would be easier without that breathy ひ in the middle? Plus, you can barely hear it, right? Why shouldn’t it become っ?

The endings that become いて・いで – く・ぐ: same test as before – try saying words like かきて(書きて)and およぎて(泳ぎて)really fast. Blocking the airstream in your throat to make the K or G sounds is too troublesome after a while, isn’t it? You might then ask, ‘But why is one て and the other で?’ Well, G is a voiced consonant (the vocal cords vibrate when it’s pronounced), and it’s the voiced version of K, which is voiceless (the vocal cords don’t vibrate). Similarly, T and D are a voiceless-voiced pair. The vocal cord vibrations just got ‘transferred’ to the next consonant.

The endings that become んで – ぬ・む・ぶ: This set is easy. ん is the sound in Japanese that often comes before all sorts of sounds that require you to close your mouth or at least bring your lips really close together. ぬ and ん sound very similar, so that’s no problem. M and B are the two sounds (along with P) for which you must close your lips, otherwise they’re impossible to pronounce. Your mouth ends up in a similar position to what you need to pronounce any of a number of possible sounds for ん, so once again, it’s really natural. As for why it’s で and not て… this is my best guess, but notice how all the consonants involved here are voiced. It would be hard to keep て sounding purely voiceless when you pronounce it after one of these sounds, no?

That’s about it. I figured some explanation might help make these sound changes seem more ‘reasonable’ and thus easier to learn, but I know these explanations might not work for you, and in any case, you’ll need to find a way to make this knowledge your own. All the best, anyhow. :slight_smile:


this really helped! I’m sure when i apply these in sentences I’ll get the hang of it if not right away haha. But I did get a good understanding. Thank you :slight_smile:

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