Verb notes please review

I’m putting together notes on what I’ve learned in Genki 1 and I’m separating them by way they’re covering. Right now I’m working on verb tenses. I’m a math tutor and I enjoy putting materials together in a way where they might also help others (which in turn helps me learn it better), so my question is, I just started putting this together and do you think creating an abstract form that i can use to help define other tenses “stem form” even though it contains roman sounds makes sense in the long run? See my 2 finished pages for an example:

Constructive criticism is encouraged. This is my method of studying though, I don’t care about “recreating the wheel”, so please refrain from making those kinds of comments.

I think it’s fine to think with the roman sounds for verb conjugations. It simplifies the process compared to the syllabary methods. There’s a group that argues doing so is bad for learning since it’s not “thinking in the native mindset” or whatever, but most of the time natives just know what they want to say from brute force experience anyway.

If it works out well for you then great. I prefer the way Tae Kim’s guide describes the conjugations. He avoids referring to stem in the summaries (actually, I can’t even remember if he refers to stems in general?). For me it’s easier to think in the drop/replace mentality than the stem addition mindset, but your mileage may vary.

Tae Kim example


Here’s a Tae Kim page on verb stems:

Yah, it’s a different kind of stem, he uses the same kind of stem that Genki does. I was shooting for a stem form that could be reused with short form.

Isn’t there just one “stem” though. The form referred to as 連用形. It might be confusing to refer to other things as stems.


I was thinking this, too - especially since the “official” stem form is used as is in some grammatical constructions. Just a suggestion, @ss1100, but maybe it would be better to call yours something else, like “truncated form”, or whatever…


Fair, I can rename it. “Heart form” maybe?


I like the approach.

What you identify as a “stem form” is commonly referred to as a “root”. Using romaji certainly makes sense here, as the Japanese writing system has no way of expressing these roots. As a personal preference, I would avoid mixing romaji and kana to make the relationship easier to see. For instance, it is easier to see the relationship between “kak” “kaku”, and “kakimasu” than it is to see between “かk”, “かく” and “かきます”

I’m not sure how useful this will be for you, but I think of the -u conjugations as just being a -ru conjugation, then adding an “i” sound to avoid sequential consonants, so the derivation of “kakimasu” would be “kak + masu” → “kakmasu” → “kakimasu”

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Did you know you’re reinventing the wheel?

I kid. But I agree about the term “stem”, that’s an actual defined term and form. I do see why you might want to do it this way, though, and it appeals to my own logical mind and prior learning with Latin, etc. I’d recommend avoiding mixing kana and roumaji, though, as @gizmo advises.

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Your images are a bit hard to see… but from what people are commenting about how you’re doing things, I believe you’re conjugating the way Steve from Nihongonomori does in his N5-N4 playlist. He swaps to romaji first. That was a good tip for me initially, but now I just try to keep it in the same hiragana family, and change the vowel sound (it’s the same line on the chart). Basically the same thing, but a different way of thinking about it.

Example with the potential form (since I just learned it):
歩く - > 歩ける ( く becomes け + the rest ) ----------- To walk - > to be able to walk

No need to use roumanji for the verb endings. You can use kana instead. Example:

For ます form (formal usage):

  • -える and -いる ending verbs => remove the る, add ます | Ex: 食べ (たべる*) => 食べます

  • For other verbs => Substitute the う ending with い and add ます | Ex: 聞 (きく) => 聞きます


Then, search for some verbs that follow the above rules and do two things:

=> Write sentences of the verb tense you’re practicing;
=> Say something simple out loud using the verb tense that you’re practicing;

One reinforces your writing while other reinforces your speaking. Not only are you learning the theory, but also practicing it. Surprisingly, this also allows you to use the vocab that you’ve been learning until now, so that you can also reinforce it.


りんごを食べます。 => I (will) eat an apple.
音楽を聞きます。 => I (will) listen to music.

Hope it helps :slight_smile:

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He wasn’t using it for the endings, he was using it for the part of the godan verbs where the vowel sound can change depending on which form it takes. That’s why he used just the letter for each consonant, because then you can say “m” instead of ま、み、む、め、も



I’d hypothesise that the confusion about what ‘stem’ means arises from this: In general linguistics, the go-to analogy is to compare a word to a flower. Like a flower, a word has a root, and a stem. In Japanese, however, a word is not a flower, but a leaf (言葉 - “say-leaf”). Leaves don’t have roots: the stem would then be the equivalent to the root.

So in general linguistics’ “flower” model we have

  1. root
  2. stem-forming-suffix (SFS; 1+2 = stem)
  3. auxiliary suffix (or ‘ending’)

While in the “leaf” model we have

  1. stem
  2. base
  3. ending

Ultimately they’re saying the same thing with different terms, but unfortunately either one is using the same term for a different thing.

(There’s also the fact that for ichidan verbs, the root and the stem are the same however you look at it, but I don’t think that’s the reason, because that only covers ichidan verbs.)

@AnimeCanuck love that this works with potential form too, I just learned it as well :smiley:

@jprspereira as mentioned, I’m not looking for a way to remember the endings, I’m trying to make a step before addings endings and whatnot that handles the ichidan and godan verb differences BEFORE we get to the conjugation step (it makes it so you have to handle the special case in a single places instead of in every conjugation). I’m basically thinking of verbs in an Object Oriented Programming way, wanting to build a “stem/heart/root” abstract form that many conjugated forms can inherit from.

@Gaidheal /@gizmo Hmmm, I’ll have to think of romaji here… Unfortunately, somewhere romaji will be mixed with kana unless I want to have the whole thing in romaji. Right now I like how I have it, but I do see your point. I’m expecting to revise/continue this approach early next week and we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for everyone’s input!

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