Lesson #3 – Verb Conjugation

&#60&#60&#45&#45 Lesson #2

Today, we’ll be dealing with something relatively simple, in the sense that if you understood the last lesson, you should have this down pretty quickly since its just a case of remembering the proper pattern.

For the time being, I will only teach you the long form, which you can consider the ‘default’ form for when speaking with strangers (it’s a matter of respect, since all forms have their own ‘respect levels’, where the long form is considered neutral). It goes under many other names as well, but my personal favourite alternative is desu/-masu form, since it tells about the sentence construction, i.e. the sentence will either end in a verb in the -masu form or with the copula ‘desu’. Also, for future reference, please note that the part of the verb that goes before the -masu is called the verb base (or sometimes “verb stem”). Anywho, on to verb conjugation!

A bit about ‘desu’

A very quick note about desu. Desu is classified as a copula, which is also called a linking verb. Because of this, like with regular verbs, it is always in the end of a sentence, and is used whenever the sentence would otherwise end with e.g. an adjective. For instance, in proper long form, if you wanted to say “I am cute” (which is probably the most infamous Japanese sentence on the web), ‘cute’ being an adjective and not a verb, you would say “watashi wa kawaii desu“. Now, on to verb conjugation, for real!

-masu conjugation…

Please note that the Japanese do not have a strict present/future tense, but rather use the same tense for both. As such, tenses are called “past tense” and “non-past tense”, though many will still refer to the latter as “present tense” (I slip up with this as well), even the books teaching Japanese. If you want to emphasize whether you are talking about present or future, you would usually add a time reference, e.g. “tomorrow”. Anywho, here’s a list of basic conjugation (examples below):

non-past affirmative = -masu
non-past negative = -masen
past affirmative = -mashita
past negative = -masen deshita

…of ru verbs

When conjugating ru verbs, simply remove ru and add -masu. Example with たべる (taberu, to eat).

non-past affirmative = たべます (tabemasu, I eat)
non-past negative = たべません (tabemasen, I don’t eat)
past affirmative = たべました (tabemashita, I ate)
past negative = たべませんでした (tabemasen deshita, I didn’t eat)

…of u verbs

When conjugating u verbs, simply remove u and add -imasu. Examples with のむ (nomu, to drink) and いく (iku, to go).

non-past affirmative = のみます (nomimasu, I drink)
non-past negative = のみません (nomimasen, I don’t drink)
past affirmative = のみました (nomimashita, I drank)
past negative = のみませんでした (nomimasen deshita, I didn’t drink)

non-past affirmative = いきます (ikimasu, I go)
non-past negative = いきません (ikimasen, I don’t go)
past affirmative = いきました (ikimashita, I went)
past negative = いきませんでした (ikimasen deshita, I didn’t go)

An important thing to note here, is that verbs ending in su change to shi and that verbs ending in tsu change to chi. For instance, hanasu (to speak) becomes hanashimasu and matsu (to wait) becomes machimasu. Other than that, they follow the same procedure.

…of irregular verbs

Here is why suru (to be) and kuru (to come) are considered irregular, because when you conjugate them, the entire verb changes, so they technically have no verb base. This is most likely due to their property of turning nouns in to verbs (see last lesson), making the noun itself the verb base. Anywho, examples:

non-past affirmative = します (shimasu, I do)
non-past negative = しみません (shimasen, I don’t do)
past affirmative = しみました (shimashita, I did)
past negative = しみませんでした (shimasen deshita, I didn’t do)

non-past affirmative = きます (kimasu, I come)
non-past negative = きません (kimasen, I don’t come)
past affirmative = きました (kimashita, I came)
past negative = きませんでした (kimasen deshita, I didn’t come)

And get your mind out of the gutter…

Desu conjugation

For sake of simplicity, I’m not gonna tell you why the following is how it is, so just accept that it is this way :3

non-past affirmative = です (desu, I am)
non-past negative = ではありません (dewa arimasen, I am not)
past affirmative = でした (deshita, I was)
past negative = ではありませんでした (dewa arimasen deshita, I was not)

Note that the は (ha) is read as ‘wa’, so keep this in mind if you ever write it using hiragana, so you don’t write e.g. でわありません by mistake. Also note that instead of では, you can use じゃ (ja), i.e. じゃありません (ja arimasen) instead of ではありません. Personally, I prefer ではありません because it sounds ‘nicer’ in a way, but many consider it a bit ‘old school’.

With a bit of practice, you should have this down in no time at all. To help you out, I’m gonna start making some very short posts were you can test yourself concerning what you have just learned, since in terms of learning, practical experience > only theory. So expect a ‘test’ on verb identification (last lesson) and one on verb conjugation soon! :3

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