Where is the conjugation in A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar?


as I progress in the study of the Basic Dictionary of Japanese Grammar, I get the feeling that the authors skipped the description of how verbs are conjugated (ichidan, auxiliaries, etc), and how verb tenses should be used (what is volitional? is it the same as imperative, or only part of it? etc.).

Am I correct? Are conjugation and the usage of verbs described in the Intermediate or Advanced volumes of the xDJG series ?
If not do you recommend a book about japanese verbs that would have a similar completeness, depth and clarity as the DJG? Thanks in advance.

Basic Dictionary of Japanese Grammar:

Tofugu review of all 3 volumes:

Well, the Basic Dictionary of Japanese Grammar, as it names implies, is a dictionary, and it is meant to be used as reference material, and not as your main grammar book. That’s why it is indexed alphabetically. Its main purpose is to explain various grammar constructions as you run into them (for example, while reading)

The book does have an appendix related to basic conjugations (it is in page 576) that you can check if you are unsure about them, but it is not like the book contains any detailed explanation about them.


The Basic dictionary does have some entries with more details, such as られる, させる, たい, ましょう. But overall I’m not sure what kind of depth you’re expecting to find with conjugation rules.

1 Like

A dictionary simply implies that it is a book with multiple entries, often ordered by alphebetical order but not always.
The same manner that structural grammar was described into multiple entries, I presume the same could be done with verb tenses and usages.

hi seanblue,
As Tofugu put it: " [the dictionaries] actually make you understand why a grammar point behaves the way it does".
So by “depth” I mean that i am looking for a reference that would goes further than printing the full conjugation table. But its difficult to describe more precisely what I am hoping for if I don’t master the Japanese conjugation already.

Well you might be disappointed (or relieved?) to find out that much conjugation has no depth to it at all. For example, past tense is simply past tense. There’s really nothing more. Some forms (particularly て-form) have more to them and may have their own entry or entries. They will sometimes be across multiple entries, all unrelated to conjugation, because the conjugation is less important than the different uses of the form. For example, there are separate entries for て, ても, and てもいい, because they all mean different things even if they conjugate (with て) the same.

Going back to the dictionary aspect, it’s important to remember that since the dictionary is simply in alphabetical order, there’s no progression in difficulty or usefulness if you read the book from cover to cover. It is meant to be a reference. So while some conjugations may get one or more detailed explanations throughout the dictionary, they won’t be under a section called “conjugations” or anything like that. You’ll have to specifically look for each one you want to learn more about.


I read it from cover to cover. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, not aside from the big honking table in the appendix…


The Table of Contents shows that it is Appendix 1 - Basic Conjugations.

Page 576 in my copy.

There’s just over 100 pages of useful content aside from the main dictionary entries.

1 Like

Sure, but that’s not “in depth” enough for OP. :wink:


Perhaps we can create in-depth articles.

~ta ~た conjugation

Past tense

{V / Adj / N+Copula} inf.past

It’s past tense

1 Like

I guess OP wants to know about where the constructions come from? Like, the past “tense” is actually a derivative of the auxiliary verb たる (so just た) being slapped on one of the basic forms of the actual verb (and potentially rendaku’d).

Edit: from goo, with the caveat that discourse is breaking the formatting




  1. 1 動作・作用が過去に行われた意を表す。「昨日出張から帰ってき た 」
    「時きぬとふる里さして帰る雁 (かり) こぞき た 道へまたむかふなり」〈為忠集〉

  2. 2 動作・作用の完了を表す。「原稿をやっと書い た よ」
    「先陣が橋を引い た ぞ、あやまちすなと、どよみけれども」〈平家・四〉

  3. 3 実現していない動作・状態を仮に実現したと考えていう意を表す。「話が出 た 時点で考えよう」「今度会っ た とき話すよ」

4 動作・作用の結果が存続している意を表す。…ている。…てある。「割れ た ガラス窓から風が吹き込む」
「アル犬肉 (ししむら) ヲ含ンデ川ヲ渡ルニ、ソノ川ノ真ン中デ含ン ダ 肉ノ影ガ水ノ底ニ映ッ タ ヲ見レバ」〈天草本伊曽保・犬が肉を含んだ事〉

5 動作・存在の確認の意を表す。「あれ、君はそこにい た の」「坊やは今年いくつだっ た 」

6 命令の意を表す。「さあ、どんどん歩い た 、歩い た 」

7 決意を表す。「もうやめ た 」「よし、その品買っ た 」

8 (「…たらどうか」「…たらいかがでしょうか」などの形で)助言したり提案したり勧誘したりする場合に用いられる。「この件は継続審議ということにし たら いかがでしょうか」

[補説] 4 は連体形の用法。 5 ・ 6 ・ 7 は、終止形の文末における用法。仮定形「たら」は、多く「ば」を伴わないで「雨が降ったら中止だ」などと使われ、「遅いからもう帰ったら」のように文末に用いられて 8 の意を表す。

1 Like

た does not necessarily indicate a past event. It indicates an action is complete, so it can be used with future completed actions, like the English “will have ~ed.”


It can also indicate the imperative. 「待った」(wait!)「帰った」(go home!) (meaning 6 in my previous post)


A slightly different question, but does anyone have advice on actually finding the grammar points in the book? I understand that they’re alphabetical, but sometimes when reading something I’m not really sure where a “piece” of grammar starts.

Try maybe something like ichi.moe to help you parse the sentence and then look up the grammar point from there? Assuming I’m understanding your question.

It’s not a perfect tool, but it can be a helpful starting point.


Rumors say that there an online index of the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar floating around. And there would be a search bar, so for example you could just type と and it would search in the 3 books at once and show all the grammar containing と. Quite useful isn’t it? :wink:

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.