New member - question about う-verbs

Hi everyone - nice to meet you! こんにちは - よろしくお願いします :slightly_smiling_face:

I’ve just started out on learning at WK and BunPro, and I’m keeping up my streak on DuoLingo where it all got started.

I’m having some trouble understanding the casual past tense negative conjugation of う-verbs and I would like to ask if my reasoning about them is correct. From the few examples I have (のむ, きく) and their conjugations to the casual past tense negative (のまない, きかない) it looks like the “stem” of the verb is actually the sound minus the ‘u’ at the end, so “nom” for のむ and “kik” for きく, which is then followed by ‘a’+ない to get the past tense negative, coalescing the ‘a’ with the last vowel of the stem. Is this a good way to think about these verbs, or am I missing something here?

Thank you for your insight.

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(I assume you meant casual negative, not casual past.)

That’s a reasonable way to look at it, yeah. To get the casual negative form, you shift from the う sound to the あ sound (except for う itself which becomes わ instead of あ), and then you append ない.


This is how it was taught in my linguistics class

As @seanblue says; sure, that is a good way to look at it :slight_smile:

Tofugu have actually written a fairly comprehensive article about the Ichidan and Godan verb groups and how they change from casual to polite, etc., which you can find here if you’d like to read more.

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Yes I meant casual negative - thanks for pointing that out.

Here is a reference from 言語学入門 (page 56) saying that the stem doesn’t have to be a free morpheme, with the example of 書く having kak- as its stem (語幹). I understand that you can’t read this yet, but it should show you that it is a valid way of finding the stem


Thank you for sharing that - I can’t read it just yet but I hope to be able to in due time.

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