Japanese Verbs

Learning the Japanese Verbs

This page contains information and a list of different Japanese verbs and tenses. Try to memorize the way they're used because they're very important in communication, and will be very helpful to convey what you want to express. Make sure to also visit our Learn Japanese page, which contains several lessons that might help you in your learning process.

When it comes to learning the Japanese verbs, there is good news. Unlike English verbs or those used in most European languages, Japanese verb conjugation is the same for all subjects; first person ("I", "we"), second person ("thou", "you") and third person ("he/she/it" and "they"), singular and plural.

The plain form of all verbs ends in "u". There are very few irregular verbs, but if you master the regular verbs and how to use them, then you would have taken care of 98% of the verbs use.

Japanese Present Tense

More good news is that the present and the future verb tenses are the same in Japanese. To understand that better we will take examples in English.

In English, sometimes you can refer to the future using the present tense. For example, a person might say "I'm taking the kids with me next time." Even though the present tense was used here, it still refers to the future. Usually the meainingvis understood by context or using words refering to the future ("next time", "tomorrow").

The same goes with the Japanese future tense. For example:

(私は)買い物をする (watashi wa) kaimono wo suru: "(I) shop", or "(I) will shop".
(私は)明日 勉強する (watashi wa) ashita benkyou suru: "Tomorrow, (I) will study".

Japanese pronouns are usually omitted when it is clear about whom the speaker is talking (check the list of verbs below).

Japanese Past Tense

The easiness of Japanese verbs doesn't stop with the present and future tense. Even the past tense is very easy to conjugate.

The past tense is very similar in conjugation to the "te" form. Most of the past tenses are formed by replacing "te" with "ta".

Examine the table below:

Verbs Ending Past Form Raw Example Past Form
う uった tta使う tsukau (use)使った tsukatta
く kuいた ita焼く yaku (burn)焼いた yaita
ぐ guいだ ida泳ぐ oyogu (swim)泳いだ oyoida
す suした shita示す shimesu (show)示した shimeshita
つ tsuった tta待つ matsu (wait)待った matta
ぬ nuんだ nda死ぬ shinu (die)死んだ shinda
ぶ buんだ nda呼ぶ yobu (call)呼んだ yonda
む muんだ nda読む yomu (read)読んだ yonda
る ru (consonant stem)った tta走る hashiru (run)走った hashitta
いる iru, える eru (vowel stem)いた ita, えた eta着替える kigaeru (change clothes)着替えた kigaeta

As you can see, the table above shows the Japanese verbs in the raw format, and then when it's in the past tense a very straight forward method. There are some irregular forms but they are not too many.

Here are some examples:

する suru (do) becomes した shita.
来る kuru (come) becomes 来た kita.
行く iku (go) becomes 行った itta.

Japanese Verbs in the Negative Form

To use the negative with verbs it's very easy as well. The basic pattern is that "u" becomes "anai", for example: 焼く yaku (to burn) becomes 焼かない yakanai (not to burn). 読む yomu (to read) becomes 読まない yomanai (not to read). Easy, right?

Japanese Verb List

One of the characteristics of the Japanese language is that the verb generally comes at the end of the sentence.

Japanese has two types of regular verbs:

  • consonant stem, godan katsuyō (五段活用?), Group I, or u verbs.
  • Vowel stem, ichidan katsuyō (一段活用?), Group II, or ru verbs.

Here is a list of verbs ending in "eru" which are Group 1 Verbs:

English Group I Japanese Verbs
to act violentlytakeru
to attend onhaberu
to be absorbed infukeru
to be crookedkuneru
to be hatched (see kaeru above)kaeru
to be overturnedkutsugaeru
to be slipperynumeru
to become cloudykageru
to become dampshikeru
to carveeru
to chatterdaberu
to choose (see eru above)eru
to competeseru
to decreaseheru
to decreasemeru
to fall forwardnomeru
to feel hothoderu
to flatteromoneru
to flush, to feel hothoteru
to grow thickshigeru
to hide, lie in ambushfuseru
to humble oneselfheru
to hurryaseru
to kickkeru
to lie sprawledsoberu
to pick, play withseseru
to pinchtsumeru
to pinchtsuneru
to return (see kaeru above)kaeru
to ridiculeazakeru
to ridicule (see eru above)eru
to rise from the deadyomigaeru
to root with the noseuseru
to shineteru
to slipsuberu
to soarkakeru
to talk, to chatshaberu
to temper, to refine, to kneadneru
to turn overkaeru
to turn over, to wavehirugaeru
to twisthineru
to undulateuneru

This is a list of verbs ending in "iru" which are Group 1 Verbs:

English Group I Japanese Verbs
to abuse verballynonoshiru
to be frightenedtamagiru
to be greasyaburagiru
to be surprisedbibiru
to become mistykishiru
to become mistykiru
to become sultryikiru
to belittle; to despisemikubiru
to boil downiru
to boil, to seethetagiru
to come/go - humblemairu
to cursekashiru
to cut (see kiru above)kiru
to dare toomoikiru
to edge forwardnijiru
to enterhairu
to fall, sinkochiiru
to feel depressedmeiru
to fiddle withijiru
to gnawkajiru
to go in (see iru above)iru
to gouge, scoopkujiru
to gouge, wrenchkojiru
to graspnigiru
to grip, stranglekubiru
to grumbleguchiru
to gushtobashiru
to gush, spurthotobashiru
to jeer atyajiru
to knowshiru
to limitkagiru
to mess updojiru
to minglemajiru
to muff linestochiru
to need (see iru above)iru
to overflowminagiru
to parody, to twistmojiru
to pass by, to drop inyogiru
to pester forsebiru
to pick, dig outhojiru
to pledgechigiru
to pluck, to pick, to tearmushiru
to ponder, to contemplateomoiiru
to rebukenajiru
to roast (see iru above)iru
to runhashiru
to scatterchiru
to slandersoshiru
to squeak, creakkishiru
to torment, roastibiru
to traverseyokogiru
to twistnejiru
to twist, distortyojiru
to winnowhiru
to wrenchmogiru
to wrigglesujiru

This is a list of the most commonly used verbs:

English Japanese Romaji English Japanese Romaji
Arrive到着touchakuLive生活するseikatsu suru
Ask尋ねるtazune ruLook見るmiru
Be存在するsonzai suruLoveai
Become〜になる~ ninaruMake作るtsukuru
Begin開始するkaishi suruMean意味するimi suru
Bring持ってくるmotte kuruNeed必要性hitsuyousei
Build建てるtate ruOpen開くhiraku
Burn燃えるmoe ruPlay遊ぶasobu
Clean汚れのないyogore nonaiReturn戻るmodoru
Close閉じるtoji ruRun走るhashiru
Eat食べるtabe ruSpeak話すhanasu
Find見つけるmitsu keruTalk離すhanasu
Forget忘れるwasure ruTeach教えるoshie ru
Get手に入れるteniire ruTell教えるoshie ru
Go行くikuThink考えるkangae ru
Hear聞くkikuUnderstand理解するrikai suru
Know知っているshitte iruWork働くhataraku