Te form basics and irregulars

I’m starting to learn grammar and one of the more important things I need to know is apparently te-form. I made a flowchart to derive what the te-form should normally be, but I know there’s a few words that behave weirdly (I understand いる acts differently depending on the kanji used, and that する is just an oddball altogether, for example).

My questions are, is this flowchart accurate for regular te-forms, and what are the te-form irregulars and their te forms? (A comprehensive or mostly-comprehensive list would be helpful, here.)

In progress temp chart


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え and い row does not guarantee that it becomes って.

If you know the ます form, that’s a better predicator.

If る becomes ます, it’s 〜て. If it becomes ります it’s 〜って

e.g: 食べる(たべる)vs 滑る(すべる)

たべる => たべ(ます) => たべて
すべる => すべ(ります) => すべって


What determines that, then? Are there rules for that?

Do you know past tense -た form? If you do, you can just replace た with て.

たべる > たべた > たべて
つくる > つくった > つくって
あそぶ > あそんだ > あそんで
きく > きいた > きいて

It works for irregular verbs too:

する > した > して
いう > いった > いって
くる > きた > きて

If you don’t know past tense yet, then hopefully that makes it easier to learn :grin:


Also there are some other irregular ones.

行く conjugates to いいて on your chart, but we know its いって

問う conjugates to とって on your chart, but it’s とうて

And then I’m not sure what something like おっしゃる would work out to using the chart.


Whaaat :exploding_head:

Okay good past tense is 問うた so my rule still works


Yeah… Wasn’t really my point to say that the chart should deal with those, just good to be aware.


So really, it’s not so much of a te-form problem as a general “I need to learn more conjugations” problem.

(My verb grammar is really basic, not much more than variations on a given masu form…)

For ichidan verbs (or -る verbs depending on your grammar source), the る is always replaced with て.

For godan verbs (う verbs), there are multiple rules based on the verb ending. There are conjugation sheets that go from the last character of the dictionary form, but I prefer going from ます form:

For the last character before ます in the ます form of a godan verb:

い, ち, り conjugate to って
に, び, み conjugate to んで
き, ぎ conjugate to いて (edit: and いで, respectively; my bad)

Irregulars and exceptions like する into して and 行く into 行って you have to memorize.

There are mnemonic songs for て form that are very cheesy but help tremendously. This is similar to the one I used: Memorizing Japanese te-form (from masu-form) with song - YouTube


き, ぎ turns into いて, いで respectively


So te-form is just directly related to masu form and ta form, and not as easily related to dictionary form?

So then, what I need to study is specifically going to and from dictionary form?

(aside from needing to study the informals and tbh most of verb conjugations…)

It does kind of end up being the same problem at the end of the day. You can’t predict if a verb that ends in る is an ichidan or godan without extra information.


Derp. Thanks for the correction.

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So where do I start, then?

I’m really confused, sorry. I’m not using any specific resources for grammar, and trying to pick things up individually, and that’s backfiring pretty heavily in the general topic of “verbs”.

As I understand things, you have a dictionary form, then you do something to it to get a stem, which is what you base te, masu, and ta forms on as well as basically everything else like informals, tenses, and such? So I should be trying to figure out stems and how they relate to dictionary form, then stems to everything else?

I think I just need to get some kind of single specific resource that covers all of verbs and just unlearn everything I think I know about them so far. Is that correct and a better way than what I’m trying to do?

Ok, brief breakdown: ichidan verbs have one form, which is what makes them ichidan verbs. You get the stem by just dropping the る off the end - 食べる > 食べ, and all conjugations form off that.

Godan verbs have five forms, which is what makes them godan verbs:
飲む >

飲ま (negative form - 飲まない)
飲み (ます-form - 飲みます)
飲め (potential form - 飲める)
飲む (dictionary form)
飲も (volitional form - 飲もう)

Generally when people say “verb stem”, they mean the ます-form.

The only difficulty is in the overlap, the godan verbs that end with る. You’ve pretty much gotta learn to spot them, because no matter how you sort them, there’s always exceptions.



I don’t really understand what the problem is, but there are a lot of charts/videos/songs to help with te form (and basically every form) online.

As well as grammar sites like:



I particularly like this youtube video for conjugation. It doesn’t cover て (that’s here) but understanding that the rules just followed the kana chart made more sense to me than the textbooks that talked about “ru verbs and u verbs, and for u-verbs you drop u and add X vowel.”

I would say that if you know the dictionary and masu form of a verb, then you can almost always predict all conjugations.

I wouldn’t (or rather I didn’t) spend time memorizing which verb has which masu form. During your Japanese studies you’re gonna hear both 食べる and 食べます so much there’s no chance of not learning it…

I never spent time memorizing the conjugation rules based on final syllable either, since once you’ve heard, say, 飲む in it’s various forms, you can use that knowledge on any む verb!

When I learned the various conjugations in Tae Kim, I just focused on, for instance, aseru being causative. Just exposure was quite enough for me to internalize how to get there based on the final syllable, and also masu form in case of る verbs.

I remember seeing the above chart when starting out and freaking out a bit… If that’s you as well, then this might help :slight_smile:


Yeah, there’s no time to think about these charts when you actually need to say a word in a sentence.

And the worst case scenario is you end up conjugating the wrong way and mildly confusing the listener for a moment. But based on the context, they might actually not get that confused.

If you say 家にかえた as if 帰る were an ichidan verb, I don’t think anyone is going to think that what you actually did is change some unmentioned other object into a house.


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