Longest verb conjugation chain?

Hi there, sorry if this isn’t the right place. Long time lurker first time poster. Loving to all from the shadows.

I’ve recently gotten into Japanese verb conjugations, and I’m having a hard time finding information on chaining conjugations.

For instance, 食べる (to eat) can be conjugated into 食べてみる (to try to eat). Can I then conjugate into 食べてみすぎる? Would that be “I try to eat too much”? Can we then go further with 食べてみすぎなければいけません? Would this be “I have to try to eat too much?”

Are there any resources people would recommend on this topic? My challenge to everyone: what’s the longest grammatically correct conjugation chain you can think of?

Thanks for the help!

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Since ない can be repeated like なくない or なくなくない and be grammatically correct, I think the answer is a bit of an underwhelming “as many negations and re-negations as you want.”


Leebo gave the actual answer, but I think its worth mentioning that I dont think temiru is actually a conjugation, is it? The te form is, but then stacking other verbs after the te form is really just a property of the te form. Although even for the te form japanese people dont treat the te as a conjugation I think

using a little trick to do the causative form with one more character I can think of

知る becoming しらしめられうりたくなかった. I think its grammatically correct but no one would ever use it.


In addition to what was mentioned, I personally think it’s most helpful to not think of ない or many of the other things taught as conjugations as actual verb conjugations. ない is an auxiliary adjective and conjugates as such. すぎる is an auxiliary verb, くる is an auxiliary verb, みる, おく, おる, ある and even ます are all auxiliary verbs.

食べてみなくてきなくてしまっておかなければいけません (I’m sure that’s absolute nonsense and I wouldn’t even know where to begin for a translation) is not a single conjugation. The only actual conjugation of 食べる in there is たべて (and I believe even that one is technically just たべ with either a particle or an auxiliary verb tacked on), with an auxiliary verb (みる), auxiliary adjective (ない), auxiliary verb (くる), auxiliary adjective (ない), auxiliary verb (しまう), auxiliary verb (おく), auxiliary adjective (ない) and an auxiliary verb (けり) conjugated to the auxiliary form (〜ば), followed by another verb (いく) with an auxiliary verb (ます).

You don’t have to know all of that of course, and some things (like けり being an auxiliary verb) are a bit more technical than they need to be, but the realisation that much of Japanese verb “conjugation” is just tacking on auxiliary stuff is a helpful one, IMO.


Causative-passive form is always fun. 食べさせられる. [Someone] is made to eat by [someone else].


Thanks everyone! Ah, those are good points about infinitely chaining ない and the て form is like adding auxillary verbs.

Japanese is so different from English, I guess I’m always worried that some combination of auxillary verbs would result in a different meaning than I would expect :sweat_smile:

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This is a bit of a passion of mine. How many verbs can you chain one after the other in a normal conversation.
From my wife (native speaker) I heard (in a completely natural style):


There are even longer forms… I cannot recall then right now.


Of course my wife uses these super polite forms with me when she is crossed for something I did. :wink:


Is it the Japanese equivalent of the very specifically empasised dear you might get from an English speaker? I guess you know you’re in deep shit when she busts out the ご協力ください :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


Aye. My favorite play on ない and negative-stacking is one of Sambonjuku’s videos.

あ…それか… 市内のなくなりそうでなくならないつまらない占い空いてるかもしれないけど行かない


A bit of an odd construction. If it means anything, it would probably mean “I try too much to eat” or “I try too hard to eat”.

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What in tarnation :joy:


Your way of describing them as auxiliary verbs is identical to ‘cure dolly’ explanation on YouTube. It’s far easier to understand that way and, at least from what I know, is the correct way of going about ‘conjugations’

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It’s what they are linguistically. Some of those auxiliary verbs have gotten so ingrained they might as well be conjugations and don’t really see much (if any) use outside of verbs (like ます and けり) but all in all I’d say most are just verbs (or adjectives) you tack onto a particular verb form.

It’s not always a useful distinction though - even 〜た is technically an auxiliary verb, but that’s not really all that useful to consider as such except maybe when considering forms like 〜たら (but even then, meh).

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