Verb -te form - what for?

Hi, could someone explain to me why (what for) -te form is used? Does sentences with -te form and -masu form have the same meaning?

I missed few Japanese lessons and now test is coming and I don’t quite understand what to do with it. Maybe someone knows some grammar reference I could use?

I understand the rules of conjugation (more or less) and I am able to create that form. It is ‘just’ I don’t know why should I… :sweat_smile:


Oh boy, what doesn’t the て-form do?

Well, simplest and most basic answer is that it’s used to chain adjectives and verbs together in the same way that と (as “and”) is used to chain nouns. So, for example, 丸くて赤いボール - a round, red ball. パンダが食べて、撃って、出かけます - the panda eats, shoots, and leaves.

Most other grammar structures that use the て-form are some specific application of that.


I had the same question when I started to learn Japanese and the answer is, it has so many different uses that it’s hard to pin down.

Generally, Tae Kim’s grammar resources are often recommended, so I looked up one page with various te-form usages:
Since you seem to be at an early stage, I would guess that the te-form was perhaps used for simple compound sentences?


Some of the more common further uses of changing verbs3 You can throw an います/いる on the end of a verb in te form to make the present progressive. Eg 今肉まん食べている (I’m eating a meat bun) Throwing a ください on the end of a te form verb is like saying “please do x”. Eg 座ってください (please sit down). You can also chain actions together like you’re telling a story and the tense of the sentence will just depend on the final verb. 今朝、目覚めて、朝ごはん食って、仕事へ出かけた。 (this morning I woke up, ate breakfast, and left for work)

1 Like

Wow, didn’t expect that…

So I will read a bit more about this, you guys gave me some good ideas what this is used for and what my google search should be, thanks :slight_smile:

Seems now I can forget about -ます :smile:

1 Like

I also have similar problem. I know that you can use -te form to say you did more than one thing in a sentence. However, what confuses me is that “curedolly” says you can use -te iru to make it have an -ing effect. I’ve seen some cases where that doesnt work.

Is there a lump all case to make verbs take -ing (i.e. sleeping) or am I missing something?

1 Like

Would you happen to have any examples? ^^

[verb]て+いる is the progressive tense, meaning something is currently being done.

It can also be used for some other nuances, so maybe that’s what caused the confusion some of the times you encountered the construction?ている-te-iru-meaning/

If you scroll down a litle bit, it talks about some of the overall uses of ている

Haven’t really read it recently, but posting the Tae Kim article just in case there’s anything useful for you in there:

1 Like

Well, ます-form is what you’ll use basically all the time if you ever visit Japan as a tourist, so I wouldn’t forget it just yet.

:clap: :laughing:


Your main problem may be that it’s used for so many things that you don’t know exactly which one the test is on. :wink:


Also, te form is (strictly speaking) not a sentence ending form, so you’ll be using both a lot of the time, unless you are with very close friends of pretty much the same age or younger.