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第14課: Regular Verbs I: 一段 Ichidan Verbs

  Japanese heavily utilizes verb conjugation, but hardly any irregularities exist. Things expressed with many separate words in English often end up being a single verb phrase. For instance, "did not eat" becomes tabenakatta 食べなかった. However, things English doesn't explicitly express also involve conjugation, politeness being an example.  

  Adjectives, the copula, and verbs conjugate similarly. However, they are still fundamentally different in what they express, so it should be no surprise that they don't function exactly the same. In this lesson, we will specifically only learn about ru る verbs (more specifically called Ichidan 一段 verbs), a class of verbs which constitutes half of all verbs in Japanese.

  Before we learn about these verbs, let's get acquainted with the following basic grammatical terminology. 

 Verb An action or state of being. 
 Auxiliary An ending that shows some grammatical function. They too have bases. 
 Transitive Verb A (willful) act that takes a direct object.
 Intransitive Verb An action, state of being, or happening that does not take a direct object.

   Auxiliary verbs, often called "helper verbs," are not standalone words like in English. They must always be attached to verbs. Verbs and auxiliary verbs conjugate, and their conjugations are always very systematic with hardly any exceptions. Later on in IMABI, we'll even look into why and how conjugation functions in Japanese. 

Vocabulary List


・一段 Ichidanru verbs

・看板 Kamban - Billboard

・服 Fuku – Clothes

・時間 Jikan – Time

・野菜 Yasai – Vegetables

・ドア Doa – Door

・教科書 Kyōkasho – Textbook

・絵 E – Picture

・切手 Kitte – Stamp

・クマ Kuma – Bear

・木 Ki – Tree

・言葉 Kotoba – Word/language

・人口 Jinkō - Population

・調味料 Chōmiryō – Spice(s)

・引き戸 Hikido – Sliding door

・シャワー Shawā – Shower

・足 Ashi – Foot

・心 Kokoro – Heart (emotional entity)

・(お)肉 (O)niku - Meat

・神 Kami – God/god/deity/kami

・証拠 Shōko – Proof/evidence

・ごみ Gomi – Trash/rubbish

・話題 Wadai – Topic  

・ピザ Piza – Pizza

・内容 Naiyō – Content

・魚 Sakana – Fish     


・僕 Boku – I (male)

・彼 Kare – He     


・汚い Kitanai – Dirty


・あの Ano – That (adj.)


・毎朝 Maiasa – Every morning

・ちょっと Chotto – A little

・だいぶ Daibu  – Fairly/considerably

・今夜 Kon’ya – Tonight

・何も Nani mo – Nothing

・特に Toku ni – Particularly

・なかなか Nakanaka – Considerably/not really (neg.)

・今日 Kyō – Today


・食べる Taberu – To eat (trans.)

・見る Miru – To see/look at (trans.)

・着る Kiru – To wear (trans.)

・起きる Okiru – To occur/get up (trans.)

・過ぎる Sugiru – To pass (intr.)

・煮る Niru – To simmer (intr.)

・閉じる Tojiru – To  close (trans.)

・落ちる Ochiru – To drop/fall (intr.)

・借りる Kariru – To borrow (trans.)

・考える Kangaeru – To think/ponder/intend (trans.)

・覚える Oboeru – To remember (trans.)

・倒れる Taoreru – To fall down/collapse (trans.)

・見つける Mitsukeru – To find (trans.)

・集める Atsumeru – To collect (trans.)

・慣れる Nareru – To get used to (trans.)

・得る Eru – To get (trans.)

・増える Fueru – To increase (intr.)

・並べる Naraberu – To line up/put in order (intr.)

・混ぜる Mazeru – To mix (trans.)

・植える Ueru – To plant (trans.)

・壊れる Kowareru – To break (intr.)

・浴びる Abiru – To bathe in (trans.)

・負ける Makeru – To lose (intr.)

・濡れる Nureru – To get wet (intr.)

・答える Kotaeru – To answer (intr.)

・信じる Shinjiru – To believe (trans.)

・感じる Kanjiru – To feel/sense (trans.)

・出る Deru – To go out (intr.)

・寝る Neru – To sleep (intr.)

・消える Kieru – To vanish/disappear (intr.)

・枯れる Kareru – To wither (intr.)

・捨てる Suteru – To throw away (trans.)

・忘れる Wasureru – To forget (trans.)

・加える Kuwaeru – To add to (trans.)

・降りる Oriru – To get off/go down (intr.)

・変える Kaeru – To change (trans.)

・認める Mitomeru – To admit/recognize (trans.)

・焦げる Kogeru – To get burned/charred (intr.)

・調べる Shiraberu – To check/investigate (trans.)

・漏れる Moreru – To leak (intr.)

・晴れる Hareru – To clear up (intr.)

・もてる Moteru – To be popular (intr.)

Conjugating Verbs

Just as with adjectives and adjectival nouns, the basic tenses of Japanese are non-past (present or future) and past. Although tense may not be the best word to describe what goes on in Japanese, we'll stick to it to have things feel more familiar.

Plain Non-Past Form: No Conjugation 

Unlike the previous parts of speech we've covered, no conjugation is ever required to use the non-past tense in plain speech. This includes times when you use a verb to modify a noun. That means you won't have to learn any rules like da だ becoming na な.  

It is when you use polite speech that goes beyond the basic form that you begin to conjugate. Nevertheless, as you will see, the non-past form can also stand for the gerund, which is the "to..." form of verbs in English. This means quite a few slightly different things can be expressed just with the basic form of a verb.

1. 看板かんばんる。
    Kamban wo miru.
    To look at a billboard.

2. きたなふくる。
    Kitanai fuku wo kiru.
    To wear dirty clothes.

3. 毎朝起まいあさおきる。
    Maiasa okiru.
    To happen every morning/To get up every morning.

4. 時間じかんぎる。
    Jikan ga sugiru.
    Time passes.

5. 野菜やさいる。
    Yasai wo niru.
    To simmer vegetables.

 Polite Non-Past Form: -masu ます

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb polite in the non-past tense, drop ru る and add -masu ます.  

 Meaning Verb  Drop ru る, add -masu ます
 To close Tojiru 閉じる Tojimasu 閉じます
 To fall/drop Ochiru 落ちる  Ochimasu 落ちます
 To borrow Kariru 借りる Karimasu 借ります
 To think Kangaeru 考える Kangaemasu 考えます
 To remember Oboeru 覚える Oboemasu 覚えます

Usage Note: This form cannot modify nouns. To modify nouns with verbs in the non-past tense, you must use the plain form without -masu ます. 

6. ドアを()じます。
    Doa wo tojimasu.
    I’ll close the door.

7. ちょっと(かんが)えます。
   Chotto kangaemasu.
    I’ll think about it.

8. 教科書きょうかしょります。
    Kyōkasho wo karimasu.
    I’ll borrow the textbook. 

Plain Past Form: -ta 

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb past tense in plain speech, drop ru る and add -ta た

 Meaning Verb  Drop ru る, add -ta た
 To see/look Miru 見る Mita 見た
 To fall down/collapse Taoreru 倒れる Taoreta 倒れた
 To find Mitsukeru 見つける Mitsuketa 見つけた
 To gather/collect Atsumeru 集める Atsumeta 集めた
 To get used to Nareru 慣れる Nareta 慣れた

Usage Note: This form can also be used to modify nouns without any change in form. Most conjugations are able to do so as long as they are not in their polite forms.

9. あの()()た。
    Ano e wo mita.
    I saw that picture.

10. 切手きってあつめた。
      Kitte wo atsumeta.
      I collected stamps.

11. クマが(たお)れた。
      Kuma ga taoreta.
      The bear collapsed. 

12. だいぶれた。
     Daibu nareta.
     I've fairly gotten used to it. 

Grammar Note: Perfect past tense involving "to have..." in English is usually translated with the past tense. 

Polite Past Form: -mashita まし 

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb past tense in polite speech, drop ru る and add -mashita ました

 Meaning Verb  Drop ru る, add -mashita ました
 To get Eru 得る Emashita 得ました
 To increase Fueru 増える Fuemashita 増えました
 To line up/arrange in order Naraberu 並べる Narabemashita 並べました
 To mix Mazeru 混ぜる Mazemashita 混ぜました
 To plant Ueru 植える Uemashiat 植えました

Usage Note: This form cannot modify nouns. To modify nouns with verbs in the past tense, you must use the plain form -ta た. 

13. えました。
     Ki wo uemashita.
     I planted a tree.

14. 言葉ことばならべました。
     Kotoba wo narabemashita.
      I lined up the words.

15. 人口が増えました。
      Jinkō ga fuemashita.
      The population increased/grew.

16. 調味料を混ぜました。
     Chōmiryō wo mazemashita.
     I mixed in spices. 

Plain Negative Form: -nai ない  

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb negative in plain speech, drop ru る and add -nai ない

 Meaning Verb  Drop ru る, add -nai ない
 To break Kowareru 壊れる Kowarenai 壊れない
 To bathe in Abiru 浴びる Abinai 浴びない
 To lose Makeru 負ける Makenai 負けない
 To get wet Nureru 濡れる Nurenai 濡れない
 To answer Kotaeru 答える Kotaenai 答えない

Usage Note: This form can also be used to modify nouns without any change in form. Most conjugations are able to do so as long as they are not in their polite forms. 

17. こわれない。
     Hikido ga kowarenai.
     The sliding door won’t break.

18. シャワーを()びない。
      Shawā wo abinai.
      To not/will not take a shower.

19. ぼくけない。(Male speech)
     Boku wa makenai.
     I won’t lose.

20. あしれない。
     Ashi ga nurenai.
     One’s feet won’t get wet. 

21. けないこころ
Makenai kokoro
     A heart that won’t lose 

Polite Negative Form: -masen ません 

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb negative in polite speech, drop ru る and add -masen ません

 Meaning Verb  Drop ru る, add -masen ません
 To believe Shinjiru 信じる Shinjimasen 信じません
 To eat Taberu 食べる  Tabemasen 食べません
 To feel/sense Kanjiru 感じる Kanjimasen 感じません
 To go out Deru 出る Demasen 出ません
 To sleep Neru 寝る Nemasen 寝ません

Usage Note: This form cannot modify nouns. To modify nouns with verbs in the negative, you must use the plain form -nai ない.  

22. 今夜こんやません。
     Kon’ya nemasen.
     I won’t sleep tonight.

23. なにかんじません。
     Nani mo kanjimasen.
     I don’t feel anything.

24. (お)(にく)()べません。
       (O)niku wa tabemasen.
       I don’t/won’t eat meat.

25. かみしんじません。
     Kami wo shinjimasen.
     I don’t believe in God. 

Plain Negative Past Form: -nakatta なかった 

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb negative past in plain speech, drop ru る and add -nakatta なかった

 Meaning Verb  Drop ru る, add -nakatta なかった
 To vanish/go out Kieru 消える Kienakatta 消えなかった
 To wither Kareru 枯れる  Karenakatta 枯れなかった
 To throw away Suteru 捨てる Sutenakatta 捨てなかった
 To forget Wasureru 忘れる Wasurenakatta れなかった
 To add to Kuwaeru 加える Kuwaenakatta 加えなかった

Usage Note: This form can also be used to modify nouns without any change in form. Most conjugations are able to do so as long as they are not in their polite forms. 

26. えなかった証拠しょうこ
Kienakatta shōko
     Evidence that didn’t disappear

27. かれはごみをてなかった。
     Kare wa gomi wo sutenakatta.
     He didn’t throw away the trash.

28. わすれなかったよ。
     Wasurenakatta yo.
     I didn’t forget.

Particle Note: The particle yo よ adds exclamation to the sentence.

Polite Negative Past Form: -masendeshita ませんでした 

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb negative past in polite speech, drop ru る and add -masendeshita ませんでした

 Meaning Verb  Drop ru る, add -masendeshita ませんでした
 To get off/go down Oriru 降りる Orimasendeshita 降りませんでした
 To change Kaeru 変える  Kaemasendeshita 変えませんでした
 To admit/recognize Mitomeru 認める Mitomemasendeshita 認めませんでした
 To be burned/charred Kogeru 焦げる Kogemasendeshita 焦げませんでした
 To check/investigate Shiraberu 調べる Shirabemasendeshita 調べませんでした

Usage Note: This form cannot modify nouns. To modify nouns with verbs in the negative past, you must use the plain form -nakatta なかった. 

29. 話題わだいえませんでした。
    Wadai wo kaemasendeshita.
      I didn't change the topic. 

30. ピザを食べませんでした。
    Piza wo tabemasendeshita.
      I didn't eat pizza. 

31. なかなか()げませんでした。
     Nakanaka kogemasendeshita.
     It didn’t really get charred.

32. とく調しらべませんでした。
      Toku ni shirabemasendeshita.
      I didn’t particularly check/investigate it.

Alternative Polite Negative & Neg-Past Forms: -nai desu & -nakatta desu ないです・なかったです 

To make an Ichidan 一段 verb negative or negative past in polite yet casual speech, drop ru る and add -nai desu ないです or nakatta desu なかったです respectively. 

 Meaning Verb  Change to Plain Negative/Negative-Past, add desu です
 To leak Moreru 漏れる Morenai desu 漏れないです
 Morenakatta desu 漏れなかったです
 To clear up Hareru 晴れる Harenai desu 晴れないです
 Harenakatta desu 晴れなかったです
 To be popular Moteru もてる Motenai desu もてないです
 Motenakatta desu もてなかったです

Usage Note: These forms cannot modify nouns. To modify nouns with verbs in the negative or negative past, you must use their plain forms -nai ない and -nakatta なかった respectively.  

33. 内容(ないよう)()れないです。
      Naiyō wa morenai desu.
      (The) content won’t leak.

34. 今日(きょう)()れなかったです。
      Kyō wa harenakatta desu.
      It didn’t clear up today. (Weather)

35. (さかな)()べないです。
     Sakana wa tabenai desu.
     I don’t eat fish. 

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