Verb conjugation(動詞の活用)

Verb conjugation(動詞どうし活用かつよう

I think one of difficult part in Japanese is verb conjugation(動詞の活用).

Conjugation is difficult word but we can say simply that “conjugation is to change form of verb”. In other language also, there are form change of verb depending on sentence form (negative, past, future sentence etc.)

There are many explanations on this topic but I try to explain more simply with some examples.

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Root(語幹ごかん) and ending(語尾ごび

Verb consists of root and ending. Root is basic part of verb and never change its part.

On the other hand, ending is changed depending on sentence form.

First step to master verb conjugation is to recognize what is root and ending for each verb.


Example for root and ending

べる (to eat) たべ is root and るis ending

る(to see) み is root and るis ending

はなす (to speak) はな is root and すis ending


To recognize what is root of verb, which related with topic bellow, just make negative form by adding “ない” to verb . Then unchanged part in verb is root.

For example,

・食べ-ない is negative form of 食べ-る. 食べ is unchanged part in 食べる so たべ is root

・見-ない is negative form of 見-る. 見 is unchanged part in 見る so 見 is root

・話-さない is negative form of 話-す. 話 is unchanged part in 話す so はな is root


Can you understand what is root and ending?

Also, can you understand how to recognize root of each verb?

These are very important to next steps.


Category of verb

There are some categories of verb. Some says 4 groups but some says 5 groups..

Either ok I think.


Some explanations categorize Ru-verb and U-verb but in this post, I categorize into 3 groups and irregular verbs, total 5 groups.


Five-step verb (五段活用ごだんかつよう or ア段活用だんかつよう. Often called group 1)

Upper one-step verb (上一段活用かみいちだんかつよう or イ段活用だんかつよう. Often called group 2)

Lower one-step verb (下一段活用しもいちだんかつよう or エ段活用だんかつよう. Often called group 2)

る” form

“する or ~する” form


To recognize which each verb is categorize, we will check root as I explain above.

Please remember above example with negative form by adding ない.

・た-ない is negative form of たべ-る. たべ is unchanged part in たべる so たべ is root

-ない is negative form of み-る. み is unchanged part in みる so み is root

・は-さない is negative form of はな-す. はな is unchanged part in はなす so はな is root


Please check sound before -ない.

In た-ない case, you can find べ(be) before -ない and べ(be) is e so it’s categorized into Lower one-step verb (下一段活用 or エ段活用).

In -ない case, you can find み(mi) before -ない and み(mi) is i so it’s categorized into Upper one-step verb (上一段活用 or イ段活用).

In は-さない case, you can find な(na) before -ない and な(na) is a so it’s categorized into Five-step verb (五段活用 or ア段活用)


Chart of conjugations by category

Here is chart of conjugation by category.

Form Form in JP Explanation Five-step verb Upper one-step verb Lower one-step verb “来る” form “する or ~する” form
Verb as example     話す 見る 食べる 来る する
Root or stem 語幹   はな たべ きorく すorし
①Negative From 未然形みぜんけい In negative sentence はな-さない -sanai み-ない i-nai たべ-ない e-nai こない or しない or
きません しません
②Conjunctive Form 連用形れんようけい Followed by -ます(masu) はな-します -shimasu み-ます i-masu たべ-ます e-masu き-ます し-ます
③Dictionary Form 終止形しゅうしけい At end of sentence in present tense はな-す -su み-る i-ru たべ-る e-ru くる する
④Attributive form 連体形れんたいけい Followed by noun はな-す -su み-る i-ru たべ-る e-ru くる する
⑤Conditionals 仮定形かていけい Followed by -ば(ba) はな-せば-seba み-れば i-re たべ-れば e-re くれば すれば
⑥Command Form 命令形めいれいけい Order form はな-せ -se み-ろ i-ro たべ-ろ e-ro こい しろ
Note vowels soon after root in forms: a i u u e e pattern from top:
i i i-ru i-ru i-re i-ro
pattern from top:
e e e-ru e-ru e-re e-ro

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Example in sentence

In the end, example in sentences for 6 forms









































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