How do you practice what group a verb belongs to?

I noticed that one of the infos given during the lessons is whether a verb is godan/ichidan etc.
Since this only comes up once in the beginning I tend to forget though.
How do you practice this?
(Besides Anki, that is. I haven’t set up Anki yet, I might do that though if I ever I find a guide that has the kind of info that I want.)

I didn’t. Never have and never will!

It seems like something you have to memorize but in reality you sorta just figure it out. Never had a problem with messing up the usage. One of them just sounds right and one of them just sounds wrong.

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If you really cared Tofugu has a lot of grammar articles with conjugation charts and they break them down by verb groups maybe you can get a rough idea of what group a word belongs to. But there is really no benefit to memorizing which one belongs to which unless you are trying to teach Japanese.

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You don’t, really. I’m going to make a big assumption you haven’t started any grammar study yet (or are using Genki) because once the topic of verb conjugation comes up, you start to learn what it means to be an ichidan or godan verb. And the very easy rule for determining which are which.

There’s about a dozen exceptions to this rule and luckily they’re all pretty common verbs so you’ll be using them often enough to learn them anyway.

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I imagine any Japanese teacher knows how to conjugate all the verbs they’d ever need to teach, and if you know how to conjugate them you can work out what group they belong to without memorization.

Assuming you didn’t already start from knowing the groups.

As for the OP’s question, only a subset of all verbs are ambiguous in the first place. If you know what the verb groups are, you can tell which group most verbs belong to just by looking at them. For others you might have to look it up if all you know is the dictionary form, but it’s not a majority.

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Specifically, it’s the verbs that end in る.

All 一段 verbs end in る, while all verbs that don’t end in る are 五段. The overlap is that there are some 五段 verbs that end in る - for example: 帰る, 走る, 始まる. There’s apparently rules you can learn that help you spot the exceptions more easily, but honestly, you just get a feel for it after a while.

(And also する and 来る, which play by their own rules.)

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Even fewer. Only verbs finishing in -eru or -iru are ambiguous at all.

All verbs finishing with -aru, -uru or -oru MUST be godan. I assume there should be some historical phonetic reason, but for example Japanese language simply won’t allow for はじまる to become はじまます, もちうる to もちうます, or なおる to なおます. The overlapping group is indeed very small in the end.

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Yeah, that’s one o’ them rules I never really learnt (maybe because my gut feelings instinctively understood from the beginning that things like はじまます sound daft).

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Frellesvig’s A History of the Japanese Language says that there’s been a different conjugation type that only had -eru and -iru verbs for back basically as far as we have written evidence (though it used to be more complicated than the one we have today). It briefly describes the current theory as being that this is because this set of verbs were originally verb or adjective + some morpheme with a specific grammatical meaning, which then got fused together and simplified in sound (he quotes “ake- < *akay < *aka-y” as a proposed way we got an OJ ‘akeru’ ‘to redden’ from ‘aka-’ the adjective ‘red’).

This is all uncertain because it’s guesswork about what the language was like in the time before we have any evidence for it, but the general idea seems plausible that some no-longer-live morpheme is responsible for both the different conjugation group and for its verbs all having the same sounds at the end.

PS: Frellesvig also says that some verbs have migrated between groups at various points in history. ける “to kick” apparently used to be in the other group, for example. My personal guess is that you don’t get non-eru/iru verbs migrating into that group because there’s no existing examples that people might analogize from, so (unlike migration the other way) it would be creating a new irregularity.

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This is 100% personal guess, but I feel like contemporary Japanese pressures verbs in the godan direction.
Your “ける used to be ichidan but now is godan” is an example. Also all neologisms fall under godan per definition. ググる、ミスる、ディスる、バズる、etc.
The fact only a very specific type of verbs (-eru and -iru) is allowed to to be ichidan and there it goes.

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I was coming at it from a foreigner wanting to teach Japanese perspective but your right regardless.

It’s worth pointing out that there are verbs that have the same dictionary forms (in Kana) but differ in their conjugation class.

I know of きる (着る - 着ます vs. 切る - 切ります) - not sure if there are other ones like this.

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Most definitely are!

Just for starters, the four below are all very common verbs, such as the きる you gave.
かえる (帰る - godan / 変える - ichidan)
いる(要る - godan / 居る - ichidan)

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And there are a bunch more いる as well (and they’re roughly even for godan and ichidan)

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I tried to stay with the most common ones, but I must concede that 入る is also pretty standard.

Ah yeah, I know those, just didn’t think of them immediately.

(side question: is 要る that commonly used? I feel I’m seeing 必要だ more often, but my extent of immersion is rather limited)

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I imagine the average person uses it multiple times a day. At the very least telling cashiers they don’t need various things, etc. (いらない)

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「要ります」itself might not be said that often, but 「要らない」and 「要りません」do appear very often.

Edit:
Yes, pretty much whatever Leebo said.

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Let us not forget the special class hidden unlockable godan verbs 問う and 請う/ 乞う

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Japanese needs more verb conjugations like 問うた.

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