Here's a summary of verb inflections in Tokyo
-style Japanese (as opposed to
The four verbs I have used here to show inflections are suru, an irregular verb, kuru, also irregular, kaku, a Godan verb, and taberu, an Ichidan verb. I have been unable to locate or remember inflections for the more
obscure forms of kuru, so I won't include the ones I can't find for now. I try to use Hepburn romanisation when I can. I can't remember whether
double vowels are expressed as "oo" or as "ou", so I'll use "ou". I've also marked inflections I'm not sure of with (?).
Sorry for the long pre-tag but it's the only way I can think of to do it.
Form suru kuru kaku taberu
plain suru kuru kaku taberu
plain negative shinai konai kakanai tabenai
perfect shita kita kaita tabeta
perfect neg. shinakatta konakatta kakanakatta tabenakatta
neutral shimasu kimasu kakimasu tabemasu
neut. negative shimasen kimasen kakimasen tabemasen
neut. perfect shimashita kimashita kakimashita tabemashita
neut. perfect neg. shimasen deshita kimasen deshita kakimasen deshita tabemasen deshita
These are the plain forms of verbs. When a verb is in the negative form (-nai), it is inflected similarly to an -i adjective. The neutral perfect negative is a combination of the neutral perfect and the gerund "desu". The neutral is sometimes called
Gerundive shite kite kaite tabete
Gerudive neg. shinaide konaide kakanaide tabenaide
The gerundive is often used to join it to other verbs, eg in the request forms -te kudasai, -te morau, -te kureru. It is also used to express continuation by joining it to iru, -te iru expressing an
action in progress. Joining it to aru also expresses continuation, but implies that the action was already done by others, e.g., kaite arimasu, "it was written there".
Since the -nai ending may be conjugated as an adjactive, you can also form a negative gerundive form with the adverbial-ku ending
It is also common in colloquial speech to hear the -te shimau form (which expresses regret) shortened to -chau, or -chimau, e.g. tabechau; and -te wa to -cha
Gerundive neg. 2 shinakute konakute kakanakute tabenakute
Desiderative (self) shitai kitai kakitai tabetai
Desiderative (others) shitagaru kitagaru kakitagaru tabetagaru
The desiderative ending -tai (to want to ...) can also be inflected similarly to an
. To refer to the desires of others the -tagaru suffix is used.
"While" form 1 shinagara kinagara kakinagara tabenagara
"While" form 2 shigatera kigatera kakigatera tabegatera
-tari shitari kitari kaitari tabetari
"Should" form su(ru)beki kurubeki kakubeki taberubeki
I can't remember the formal names for the above forms, but they both express
simultaneous action. The -nagara, -gatera almost directly translates to "While ...", i.e., tachinagara yomu, is to
read while standing. The -tari form usually is used to expressed a range of actions one did over the same time period, among other things. For example, as an answer to the textbook question "what did you do on the
weekend? (shuumatsu wa nani o shimashita ka)" you might answer in similar textbook fashion: "ongaku o kiitari hon o yondari shimashita". The -beki forms mean that some thing "should" be, but isn't really a verb inflection more than a suffix attached to the plain form.
The -gatera and -beki form isn't common, in my experience
Conditional 1 sureba kureba kakeba tabereba
Cond. 1 Neg. shinakereba konakereba kakanakereba tabenakereba
Conditional 2 shitara kitara kaitara tabetara
Cond. 2 Neg. shinakattara konakattara kakanakattara tabenakattara
These two conditional
s both can be translated as "if..." but differ slightly in usage. the -tara form can be used as a loose "when...", as in ittara kaimasu; I will buy it if/when I go. The negative is formed by an adjectival inflection of -nai, and is often used to form -nakereba ikenai/naranai/dame/word of prohibition, which
s as "must", but literally is "it will not do if I do not do this".
Volitional shiyou koyou kakou tabeyou
VOlitional Neut. shimashou kimashou kakimashou tabemashou
Potential dekiru koreru kakeru taberareru
The volitional expresses a suggestion, and is often translated as "Let's...". There are a whole class of verbs in Japanese which are kanji compounds + suru (e.g., sentaku suru, to select). Some of these verbs are not inflected into the potential form with dekiru, but with -seru, e.g. yaku suru, to translate, yaku seru, to be able to translate.
Passive sareru korareru kakareru taberareru
Causative saseru kosaseru kakaseru tabesaseru
Causative Passive saserareru kosaserareru kakaserareru tabesaserareru
The passive has many uses in Japanese, including expressing that an action is out of your
control. Three distinct usages of the passive exist, and there is a distinction between the use of a "direct" passive, and an "indirect" passive. Use of the direct passive with transitive verbs has implications of regret or adversity. Also, the causative passive seems complicated to use, but not to think about, e.g. I was stopped by the
policeman; o-mawari san ni tomesaseraremashita.
Further to a note passed by Broccolist, with Godan verbs, the causative passive forms are usually slightly shortened to -sareru, e.g. tobasareru. However, kahen verbs are excepted from this rule. Kahen verbs are those which end in -ku, but are slightly irregular (most notably in this form). Kaku happens to be a kahen verb, one of the very few to my knowledge, and the proper causative passive for it is the form listed above. The -serareru is the only form that holds for all Godan verbs without exception, but is not as common as the -sareru form.
Brusque imperative shiro koi kake tabero
Imp. Neg. suruna kuruna kakuna taberuna
Nasai imperative shinasai kinasai kakinasai tabenasai
Tamae imperative shitamae kitamae kakitamae tabetamae
The nasai imperative is the most "polite" of the imperative
s. Imperatives are not used when a request is meant, e.g., come to my
, as to do so is rather rude.
It is formed from stem of the polite verb nasaru. It is sometimes simply
shortened to -na.
These last few are not common, except for sezu
-zu form sezu kakazu tabezu
Contemptuous shiyagaru kiyagaru kakiyagaru tabeyagaru
The -zu form means "instead of", "without". The -yagaru form expresses contempt for the doer of the action.
These ones are literary. There are many more literary verb conjugations than
are listed here, mainly occuring in poems, classical Japanese, etc., but these
are the only ones that I know of that are used.
Literary Neg. surumai kurumai kakumai taberumai
-beshi form surubeshi kurubeshi kakubeshi taberubeshi
The -mai form emphasises the negative
. The -beshi form expresses responsibility, a stronger form of "should".
I do not consider compound verbs formed with such verbs like sugiru, dasu,
kawaru, kakaru, etc, to be proper verb inflections.