Simple but good definition of ichidan verb and godan verb

Everything I’ve found on the internet is not making sense or isn’t enough

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Godan verbs conjugate into five different forms, one for each vowel, that gets stuff added to it. Ichidan verbs just drop る and have one form everything gets slapped on. Also all of them either end in える or いる (but not all verbs that end in える or いる are ichidan)

Note go = five, ichi = one.

かく - godan

On those bases you’ll add various things, like ない, た, たい, れる, etc.

たべる - ichidan
The only form you add things to.


This here is the biggest issue with trying to give a simple rule-of-thumb to tell them apart - no matter which you choose, there’s always exceptions. All ichidan verbs end in る in the plain form, but not all verbs that end in る are ichidan. All godan verbs end with ~い in the ます form, but not all verbs that end in ~い are godan, and so forth. The golden rule in Japanese: All rules have exceptions, including this one.

All you can do is learn the conjugation rules, and over time as you get more vocab under your belt, you’ll be able to intuit which is which when you get a verb that falls in the overlap.


Also if that’s not how you learned the distinction it really doesn’t matter, in my opinion anyway. There’s a lot of different ways to explain Japanese verbs and none of them are really wrong in a functional sense, though one is more historically accurate. The way I described it is based in the fact that I now view everything in terms of 動詞 and 助動詞 but I didn’t always look at it through that lense and it doesn’t really improve my understanding much to do so. It just makes it easier to look at Japanese grammar in Japanese : p If someone wants to tell you that かかない is a conjugation of かく, whatever, that’s basically true, whatever’s easiest…

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This stuff tends to be confusing and is taught in different ways (e.g. some courses prefer to classify Japanese verbs as types 1, 2, and 3 with godan being type 1, ichidan being type 2, and type 3 being する and くる because they are considered the exceptions). There are charts to memorize, which leave you to try to picture those charts in your head whenever you try to conjugate a verb.

So I just wanted to add that you aren’t obligated to learn this classification system in order to learn Japanese. Much like kunyomi vs onyomi, many actual Japanese people who can read and write perfectly well may not know what they are. I certainly get blank stares from my wife if I ask if a verb is godan or ichidan. Of course, not learning these classification systems would mean that you need to just learn Japanese verbs and their conjugations organically, memorizing the patterns in your own way.

That is essentially how I’m learning, though I’m not averse to learning which is which. It’s just that I prefer to look at grammar rules only when necessary, and otherwise learn by feel and repetition.


For a る verb is there any way to tell whether it’s godan or ichidan? I tried to read up on Imabi if there was, but it basically said if it’s いる or えろ it could be either, but ある, うる, おる will all be godan.

That’s all there is. You have to look them up in a dictionary to be sure.

On the bright side, it’s not English.


Not by itself, but generally after you’ve encountered a verb a few times you’ll know both the dictionary and the ます form, and you can tell by how that got conjugated.

@Jul3 or see them in a conjugated form. If you saw 走りました you’d know straight away that the verb 走る is a godan verb, 食べます → no consonant stem → ichidan verb. Knowing the name doesnt matter so much as automatically correctly conjugating it.

Sometimes seeing only the conjugated form can be a pain, like if you hear someone say よんだ do they mean 読んだ or 呼んだ? But if they were conjugated in literally any other way you’d see 読む or 呼ぶ。Japanese is hard.

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Thanks. I guess that’s the case. I guess it’s just a bit textbooky to see a verb in the plain form and be asked to conjugate it rather than seeing/hearing it being actually used.

JFZ doesn’t teach them as Ichidan/Godan verbs, as such I don’t feel learning the classification is that important, so maybe this method I go by will help you somewhat.

JFZ classifies verbs as いる/える verbs, regular and irregular verbs.

いる/える verbs are verbs that end in the same syllabary collum as いる or える, that is to say they end with, or rhyme with いる,える.

So anything that ends with きる、しる、ちる、ねる、める、れうetc. are most likely to be いる、える verbs. There are exceptions to this rule, such as かえる, which is regular, but it’s much easier to use the this rule and use the exceptions than to learn all the verbs. These conjugate by dropping the る and adding the conjugation.

All other verbs are regular, which are conjugated into formal forms by changing the last syllable to its い form, so る becomes り、ぬ becomes に etc. Then adding the ます ending.

The irregular verbs, there are only three 、する and くる conjugate by a mix of the two methods above, you drop the る and change the remained to the い form, then adding the ,ます so するーすーしーします

The other irregular is ある、which is regular in its formal form, as it doesn’t end in いる、える, but conjugates to ない in its informal negative.

What does that mean exactly? 変える (to change something) conjugates as 変えた in the past, but 帰る (to go home) conjugates as 帰った in the past, despite both being かえる. So just knowing it’s regular doesn’t help you know which kind of regular.

What about 問う, いらっしゃる (and others in its class), and even 行く, which would be expected to conjugate as いいた in the past, but is いった.

There are a bunch, even if they’re not as useful to beginners.

EDIT: not trying to badger you, I just see the “there are 2 or 3 irregular verbs in Japanese” thing a lot.

There’s two irregular verbs in the sense that there’s precisely two verbs in which every single conjugation is weird. All the other odd verbs pretty much just have a single freaky conjugation each.

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That’s right, but basically JFZ’s “いる/える verbs” are ichidan, while JFZ’s “regular verbs” are godan - AFAIR he just wanted to avoid “difficult” linguistic terms in his lessons. So it’s just different name for the same thing.

Actually it’s the same thing, just under different name - all ichidan verbs have いる/える ending, but not all verbs with such ending are ichidan - those godan verbs with いる/える ending are what JFZ calls “いる/える exceptions”.

And I agree with JFZ that it’s much better way if you want to avoid “ichidan/godan” terms, than Tae Kim’s “る verbs” - as many godan verbs obviously end with る so it doesn’t tell anything :wink: Probably the source of “る verb” name was not the ending itself, but what you drop (る) to conjugate it?


Im not sure how to quote but I’ll reply to each of your points.

  1. I only know 帰る, to go home, which would follow the same pattern 帰る, 帰ります、change the last syllable to the い version and add ます。The fact that 変える conjugates to 変えます just means it’s an いる、える verb so you have to know which is which. If you take both of these and work backward, you can tell 変えます is いる、える because if you remove the ます stem, it’s last syllable is え which is not in the い form.

  2. For the た form we’re just taught this table


問う, いらっしゃる therefore look like conjugating to った is perfectly normal as the syllables う つ る conjugate intoった

I only really covered polite formal conjugation (ます stem) in my post as that’s the easiest to work with, otherwise I would spend days writing all the different conjugation rules, but for the most part, these three groupings seem to stick.

Yeah funnily enough I didn’t even know what Ichidan or Godan were till I started WK! So now I just stick with what I know. Not saying it’s a superior system, but if op is struggling, just thought I’d offer it up as an alternative.

Me too, as I started with JFZ :smiley: But then the switch was pretty easy - just add names :slight_smile:

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It’s 問うた, though.

(And いらっしゃいます, not いらっしゃります)

My bad I misread.

I’ve not come across these verbs so I dunno how they are taught. I think the いいた conjugation though is just taught as an exception. Rather than classing hundreds of verbs with the odd rule as irregular, he just goes for mostly regular with exceptions in some cases.

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That what people do in general. Both and いらっしゃる are considered godan (and so is ), despite having some exceptions.
I guess that only 行く is mentioned on your table because it’s a very common verb, even at a low level, while the others aren’t. :thinking:
In any case, I think @Leebo’s point was that you should keep in mind that “regular” verbs aren’t always, well, regular :stuck_out_tongue:

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