Imperative Form

What are the rules for conjugating something into imperative form? Is there a reason behind れ/ろ, or is it just memorization? What do you do about verbs that don’t end with る?


Ichidan = swap the る for a ろ or よ - 食べる>食べろ or 食べよ
Godan = change the ~う to an ~え - 飲む>飲め

する>しろ or しよ

Negative imperative is just stick a な on the back of the dictionary form, regardless of verb type. 食べるな, 飲むな, するな and so forth.


For verbs that end in る, the difference is if the verb is an ichidan verb, or a godan verb.

It it’s an ichidan verb, like ()べる, the ます stem will be ()べ. You just cut out the る and add ます to make it into polite form, that’s how you tell it apart. Same for ()きる → ()き → ()きます

For ichidan verbs, the imperative will be formed by turning the る into ろ. Example: ()べろ!()きろ!

If it’s a godan verb, like (かえ)る, the ます stem is formed by taking the last kana, and changing the ‘u’ sound into 'i". For example: (かえ)る → (かえ)り, and then you add ます → (かえ)ります. Another example: (まわ)る → (まわ)り → (まわ)ります. ()く → ()き → ()きます.

For godan verbs, the imperative is formed by taking the final kana and turning it into a ‘e’ kana of the same consonant. For example: (かえ)れ!(まわ)れ!()け!

Usually, verbs that end in る and the kana before る is an ‘e’ or ‘i’ kana, like in the case of ()べる it’s べ, in the case of ()きる it’s き, etc., will be ichidan verbs. There are a very small number of exceptions to this, where the verb ends in る and the kana before る will have an ‘i’ or ‘e’ sound, but the verb is godan, but they can be memorized as exceptions since they’re small in number. ((かえ)る is a common example, しゃべる is another).

If a verb ends in る and the kana before る is not an ‘e’ or ‘i’ kana, then it will be a godan verb.

That’s about the best way to tell the verbs apart to know which conjugations to apply. It’s not a れ vs ろ issue for る verbs, it’s the fact that all godan verbs end in an ‘e’ kana in the imperative, regardless if it’s a る verb or not.


@Belthazar @jneapan ありがとう、すごい助言ね。


Just wanted to mention that using 助言 here sounds kind of funny. It’s better to say いい文法の使い方

1 Like


1 Like

Hi jneapan, is 行きます a spelling error and should be 生きます, or is there a relationship between these kanji when it is changed to polite form?

I notice that I can’t spell 生きます with the predictive typing, and have to type ‘seikimasu’ to get the correct kanji so I assume i am lacking in understanding, would really appreciate if you want to clarify for me :grin:

1 Like

I’m sure @jneapan will drop by to confirm, but I’m pretty sure that’s a typo. Especially since 行く is a godan verb and きる is an ichidan verb.


Yup, my bad. Correcting now.

I’m not sure about that but my IME does work with it.


You should be able to write 生きます, though. That’s the ます form of 生きる.


Be aware there’s a difference between the predictive typing and your IME’s actual list of suggestions. Predictive typing suggests what it thinks you’re trying to type, while the IME will give you every possibility that matches the reading you’ve typed.


Thank you yes that makes sense, I am using the Windows IME, but the predictive text only shows me 行 options for some reason:


1 Like

I’m also using Windows IME and I got it:


If you press space to go down after the 9th entry you might get more options.


I just want to add that せよ is an alternative (older/classical Japanese) imperative form of する, which is also why the grammar point (なに)しろ may be written/spoken as (なん)にせよ。

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.