Japanese Verbs Supplement

Please note: This page is intended for intermediate to advanced students of Japanese who are already comfortable with the material presented in my Japanese Verbs.

© Tim R. Matheson


1. Base 2 - Continuing Statements

2. Base 2 - Compound Verbs as Verbs

3. Base 2 - Compound Verbs as Nouns

4. Base 2 - Very Polite Form with the o Prefix

5. Very Polite Form with the go Prefix

6. Base 1 - Very Polite Form with reru / rareru

7. Base 2 - Unspecified Things Using mono

8. Cancelling Actions with yameru

9. The Many Faces of you ni / na

10. Expressing Characteristics with suru

11. Expressing Results for Continued Actions with Base 4 + ba and Base 3 + hodo

12. Te Form - Expressing No Results for Continued Actions

13. Base 2 - Wanting to Do Things with tai

1. Base 2 - Continuing Statements

Base 2 can be used to end phrases or clauses within a sentence as long as something follows. Base 2 is usually not used to end a sentence:

  • Shizu ni denwa shi, heya o katazuke, kaimono ni iku. (I'm going to call Shizu, straighten up the room, and go shopping.)

The Te Form can also be used to do this, as we learned in Lesson 65 of my Japanese Verbs:

  • Shizu ni denwa shite, heya o katazukete, kaimono ni iku. (I'm going to call Shizu, straighten up the room, and go shopping.)


2. Base 2 - Compound Verbs as Verbs

Verbs in Base 2 can be followed by other verbs in order to create compound verbs. Some of these are relatively easy to grasp and can be used quite freely, like Base 2 with hajimeru (to begin) or owaru (to finish):

  • Kumi wa juu ka getsu ni natta toki arukihajimeta. (Kumi began walking when she turned 10 months old.)
  • Tabeowattara hachiji datta. (When I finished eating it was 8:00.)

Base 2 + sugiru (overdo):

  • Nomisuginaide ne. (Don't drink too much, okay?)
  • Kristi wa itsumo shaberisugi. (Kristi always talks too much.)

Sugiru is often cut to sugi in informal talk. This is an exception and cannot be done indiscriminately with other verbs. And this is also a verb which is allowed to end a sentence or expression in its Base 2 form.

Base 2 + naosu (repair; redo):

  • Kore yomenai kara, kakinaoshite kureru? (I can't read this, so would you write it again?)
  • Yarinaoshi. (Do it over.)

Yarinaoshi is a "set" mild command, often used by teachers to students or bosses to subordinates.

Note: Base 2 + naosu means to do something over again because the first time was sloppy or unsatisfactory, and should not be used to ask for a repeat of something done well. In that case, use something like Mou ichido o negai shimasu! or Mou ichido (verb in the te form) kudasai.

Base 2 + tsuzukeru (continue):

  • Yomitsuzukete kudasai. (Please continue reading.)
  • Kazu wa juuji made hatarakitsuzuketa. (Kazu continued working until 10:00.)

And there are those that are more specialized. I cannot make an exhaustive list of them, but here are many that I see or hear often. Many of these can be combined with various other verbs, while others are limited or very specialized in their use.

miwakeru: to distinguish by sight (miru + wakeru)

kikiwakeru: to distinguish by sound (kiku + wakeru)

miwatasu: to look over a wide area (miru + watasu)

arukimawaru: to walk around (aruku + mawaru)

mimawaru: to walk around and inspect (miru + mawaru)

kikiwasureru: to forget to ask (kiku + wasureru)

uketoru: to receive (ukeru + toru)

toritsukeru: to install (an appliance, etc.) (toru + tsukeru)

hanashiau: to speak together (hanasu + au)

mochikaeru: to take out (fast food, etc.) (motsu + kaeru)

toiawaseru: to inquire (tou + awaseru)

uchiawaseru: to arrange for (this usually implies making verbal arrangements for something beforehand) (utsu + awaseru)

makimodosu: to rewind (a tape, etc.) (maku + modosu)

haraimodosu: to refund (harau + modosu)

sashikaeru: to replace (A with B) (sasu + kaeru)

atehamaru: to be applicable to (ateru + hamaru)

mochiageru: to raise up (motsu + ageru)

mochiyoru: to bring (together with others, as with a potluck dinner) (motsu + yoru)

hakobidasu: to carry out (to carry something out of a building, etc.) (hakobu + dasu)

All of the above compounds are Base 2 verbs combined with Base 3 verbs for consistency. However, many of these will often be used as a noun with a Base 2 ending, such as uchiawase (a planning meeting) or haraimodoshi (a refund). (See the next section.)

Please don't confuse these with the ones which use the particle ni in between, like tabe ni iku (go out and eat) and asobi ni kuru (come for fun). (See Lesson 10 of my Japanese Verbs.)

Finally, although it will be tempting to create your own combinations — combinations which seem perfectly understandable to you — they probably will not be understood by native speakers unless they have a linguistically free mind. It is always best to check your dictionary to see if it exists beforehand.


3. Base 2 - Compound Verbs as Nouns

There are many verb combinations which exist that are used mainly as nouns (Base 2 + Base 2), such as:

yomikaki: reading and writing (yomu + kaku)

kaiage: a purchase (kau + ageru)

uriage: a sale (uru + ageru)

deiri: entering and exiting (deru + hairu)

ikiki: coming and going (iku + kuru)

uketsuke: reception (as in a hotel or other business) (ukeru + tsukeru)

moushide: an offer (mousu + deru)

moushikomi: application/applying (mousu + komu)

Komu alone means "jammed" or "crowded," but is combined with many other verbs to add other nuances, such as "entering into" something, involvement, attachment, or resolve. For example, regular suwaru means "to sit," but suwarikomu means "to sit with a resolute attitude of immovability," such as a sick person, a spoiled child, or someone demonstrating would do.


4. Base 2 - Very Polite Form with the o Prefix

There are two o+Base 2 verb forms that I will introduce here. Both of them start by adding an "honorific o" prefix to the Base 2 form of the verb, which makes it act like a noun. (Incidentally, I use a hyphen to attach this o in some of my lessons for clarity, but in written Japanese there is no hyphen.)

The first is only used when the subject is I (stated or implied) and you are speaking to another person who is the indirect object, the recipient of the action. For example, let's use the verb okuru, which means "to send." All of the following sentences mean the same thing — "I'll send you the paperwork." — but each conveys a different level of politeness or "honor," which expresses your opinion of the other person or the relationship you have with him or her. Note the differences:

  • Shorui o okuru. (Base 3, plain)
  • Shorui o okurimasu. (Base 2 + masu, polite)
  • Shorui o o-okuri shimasu. (Base 2 with the o prefix + shimasu, honorific and polite)
  • Shorui o o-okuri itashimasu. (Base 2 with the o prefix + itashimasu, honorific and more polite)

As you can see, the third and fourth examples use this Base 2 form with the o prefix and shimasu (polite form of suru) or itashimasu (polite form of itasu) to show respect for the other person. There are not really a lot of verbs that can be used this way. Just remember that it must be one used in an "I will do (something) for you" construction, like:

  • o-tsukuri shimasu / itashimasu ("I'll make it [for you]," from tsukuru, to make)
  • o-mise shimasu / itashimasu ("I'll show you," from miseru, to show)
  • o-shirase shimasu / itashimasu ("I'll let you know," from shiraseru, to notify)

With suru verbs, you just add the o and change the suru or replace it with itashimasu, as in:

  • o-denwa shimasu / itashimasu (I will telephone you.)
  • o-henji shimasu / itashimasu (I will reply [to you].)

The second form is for the opposite flow of action — you request the other person to do something for you. Here, you simply add kudasai directly after the verb/noun:

  • Shorui o o-okuri kudasai. (Please send me the paperwork.)
  • O-tsukuri kudasai. (Please make one [for me].)
  • O-mise kudasai. (Please show me.)
  • O-denwa kudasai. (Please call me.)

If you are already familiar with the Te Form + kudasai ending, you may be tempted to create something like o-okutte kudasai or o-okuri shite kudasai. Both are incorrect, so be careful.

Both forms introduced here illustrate the mixed blessing of the Japanese language not needing a subject in many cases. Since the o-Base 2 verb + suru form would only be used in (and automatically imply) an "I do for you" action, "I" and "you" are understood and are therefore omitted. Likewise, since the o-Base 2 verb + kudasai form would only be used in (and automatically imply) a "you do for me" action, "you" and "me" are not needed. While this can be handy for the speaker, it is sometimes hard for the listener.


5. Very Polite Form with the go Prefix

This form is similar to the second form covered in the section above, but this one has nothing to do with "bases." In fact, we could call it "baseless."

There is an "honorific go" prefix that certain verbs use instead of o. This is only for asking favors and is quite formal, showing special respect to the person you are asking. The pattern is simple: add go to a suru verb without the suru, and then add kudasai. Here are some:

  • Go-renraku kudasai. (Please contact me.)
  • Go-kakunin kudasai. (Please confirm.)
  • Go-chuui kudasai. (Please be careful.)
  • Go-shusseki kudasai. (Please attend.)
  • Go-ran kudasai. (Please look.)

Note: Go-ran is a specialized form which does not exist with suru as a plain verb. It is used instead of miru to ask someone very politely to look at something.

And there are the ones which use the o prefix — never go — some of which were introduced in the last section. These can include godan or ichidan verbs (in their Base 2 form) as well as suru verbs (without suru), like:

  • O-uketori kudasai. (Please receive this.)
  • O-henji kudasai. (Please reply.)
  • O-tsutae kudasai. (Please tell him / her / them.)
  • O-machi kudasai. (Please wait.)
  • O-yomi kudasai. (Please read it.)

The most difficult part about this form is probably learning which suru verbs use o and which use go. There is no guide or rule concerning this; you just have to memorize them as they come.

To make things even more fun, when you get deep enough into your kanji studies you will find that the same one is used for both o and go — the reading changes according to the verb it's attached to. However, these days this prefix is rarely seen in its kanji form in written Japanese; it's usually written in hiragana.


6. Base 1 - Very Polite Form with reru / rareru

Above we covered polite forms for giving or asking favors. This section introduces verb conjugations which show respect for the actions of another person even though that action may have nothing to do with yourself. To become familiar with the general levels of politeness, look at these three examples:

  • Nanji ni shuppatsu suru?
  • Nanji ni shuppatsu shimasu ka?
  • Nanji ni shuppatsu saremasu ka?

All of these mean "What time will you leave?" using the "suru verb" shuppatsu suru, which means "to leave; depart." The plain suru ending is, of course, plain and informal, being suitable for talking with family or friends. The shimasu ka ending is polite, and should be used when speaking to superiors or people you don't see that often. Saremasu ka, which is actually Base 2 of sareru with polite masu attached, is even more polite, and is used to show special respect when you desire to do so.

As for the conversion rules, you only need to remember four things: godan verbs use Base 1 + reru; ichidans use Base 1 + rareru; the suru of suru verbs changes to sareru (like the example above); and kuru changes to korareru.

After conversion, you will notice that they have all become plain ichidan verbs, and will therefore require further conjugation as such, according to need. There are no special rules for these "created" ichidans — they are converted like any other ichidan verb. Here are some godan examples:

  • Ashita Kyoto ni ikaremasu ka. (Are you going to Kyoto tomorrow?)
  • Sakamoto-san wa kaeraremashita. (Mr. Sakamoto has left for the day.)
  • Nani o nomaremasu ka. (What will you have to drink?)

Some ichidan:

  • O-sushi taberaremasu ka. (Will you have some sushi?)
  • Sono eiga miraremashita ka. (Did you see that movie?)

Some more suru examples:

  • Kimiko ni denwa sareta hou ga ii to omoimasu. (I think it would be a good idea for you to call Kimiko.)
  • Nan nen kan furansugo o benkyou saremashita ka. (How many years did you study French?)

And one kuru:

  • Raishuu no doyoubi ni koraremasu ka. (Will you come next Saturday?)

You can use this form in many, many cases, but, as in everything else, there are exceptions. For example, when asking a person if they will be in a certain place, do not use irareru; use orareru: Shibaraku koko ni oraremasu ka. "Will you be here for a while?" You will pick up these exceptions as you go along. Be sure to keep an ear out for them.

Note: The conjugation rules here are identical to the ones used in forming passives, which are briefly mentioned near the bottom of my Notes on Japanese Verbs. Just remember that the very polite form outlined here acts on the subject — usually a person — while the passive form acts on an object. Same conjugation rules, different use.


7. Base 2 - Unspecified Things Using mono

There are several nouns used for unspecified things which are made by putting the relevant verb in Base 2 and adding mono, which means "thing." Probably the best known example of this is kimono, which literally means "wearing thing" (kiru + mono). Other examples are nomimono: something to drink (from nomu), as in:

  • Nomimono wa ikaga desu ka. (How about something to drink?)

And norimono: something to ride in; a vehicle (from noru), as in:

  • Are wa tanoshii norimono da. (That's a fun ride.)

Here are a few more:

  • tabemono: something to eat; food (from taberu)
  • ikimono: a living thing; creature (from ikiru)
  • kaimono: shopping (not something bought; from kau)
  • iremono: a container (not whatever is put inside; from ireru)
  • tsumemono: stuffing; filling (including filling for a decayed tooth; from tsumeru)

Unfortunately, you can't just slap mono onto any verb in Base 2. Like the ones above, they have already been decided upon and set aside, so please check your dictionary before using.


8. Cancelling Actions with yameru

Using Base 3 or the Ta Form with hou ga ii to convey things which should be done has been covered in Japanese Verbs. When you want to advise someone, even yourself, to not do something, to not go ahead with a plan, use the verb yameru (to stop) in Base 3 (plain) or in the Ta Form:

  • Ojii-san wa ima tsuri o yameru hou ga ii to itte iru. (Grandpa says that it would be better not to go fishing now.)
  • Yameta hou ga ii yo! (You'd better not do it!)

In my own experience, yameta hou ga ii is preferred and used much more in conversation. Depending on the tone of voice, it could mean a friendly "It would be best not to do it" or a more command-like "Don't do it!" Because yameta is past tense, this often causes confusion. What I do is think of it as meaning "after all is said and done, you will look back and see that it was good (ii) to have cancelled (yameta) it."

By the way, if you go ahead with something and regret it later, wishing you had not done it, express that feeling by putting ii (yoi) into past tense: ...o yameta hou ga yokatta. (It would have been best to cancel...) Here are some other handy expressions with yameru and yokatta:

  • ...o yamete yokatta (I'm glad I cancelled... / It was a good thing that we cancelled...)
  • ...o yamereba yokatta (I / We should have cancelled... / I wish I / we had cancelled...)
  • ...o yamenai hou ga yokatta / ...o yamenakereba yokatta (It would have been best not to cancel... / I wish we had not cancelled...)
  • ...o yamenaide yokatta / ...o yamenakute yokatta (I'm glad we didn't cancel...)


9. The Many Faces of you ni / na

Between verbs, you ni conveys "in order to," "so that," etc., as in:

  • Piano o jouzu ni hikeru you ni mainichi renshuu shite iru. (In order to be able to play the piano well, I practice every day.)
  • Furansugo o jouzu ni hanaseru you ni naritai. (I want to be able to speak French well. [you ni naritai = want to become so that...])

One very handy aspect of you ni is that it can be used to start an idea which is completed (mentally) by the other party. Compare these examples, with their literal translations:

  • Ashita rokuji ni okireru you ni, mezamashidokei o setto shite ne. (So that you can get up at six tomorrow, set the alarm clock, okay?)
  • Ashita rokuji ni okireru you ni, shite ne. (Do whatever so that you can get up at six tomorrow, okay?)
  • Ashita rokuji ni okireru you ni, ne. (So that you can get up at six tomorrow, okay?)
  • Ashita rokuji ni okireru you ni... (So that you can get up at six tomorrow...)

These Japanese sentences are all perfectly viable. Although unfinished, what the ending will be is easily guessed. This is similar to the much-used unfinished English expression "You shouldn't have!" A student of English will wonder "shouldn't have what?"; but seasoned English speakers know it means "shouldn't have gone through so much trouble for me."

This "add your own ending" is seen a lot in birthday cards and year-end nenga greeting cards, where it means "Best wishes for...," "I hope you have...," etc. Here it can act on a whole sentence:

  • Tanoshii o-tanjoubi de arimasu you ni... ([May] you have a fun birthday.)
  • Go-kazoku ni totte, rainen wa taihen yoi o-toshi de gozaimasu you... ([I hope] that next year is a very good one for your family.)

Please notice that I purposely left the ni off the last example. This is also seen a lot, especially in the written language.

Another function of you ni is to convey "seems to," "appears to be":

  • Kenzo wa yopparatte iru you ni aruite iru. (Kenzo is walking like he's drunk.)
  • Beth wa wakaranai you ni mieru. (Beth looks as if she doesn't understand.)

(You never omit the ni in this use.)

If a noun is described, use na instead of ni:

  • Beth wa wakaranai you na kao o shite iru. (Beth's face looks as if she doesn't understand. [...kao o shite iru = to do (make) a face])
  • Nenryou o takusan tsukau you na kuruma desu ne. (It seems to be a car that will use a lot of fuel.)

There's still more. You can use you ni after nouns to describe verbs. Add a no after the noun:

  • Kanojo wa uma no you ni taberu. (She eats like a horse.)
  • Kare wa usagi no you ni hashiru. (He runs like a rabbit.)

And you can use you na after nouns to describe nouns:

  • Inu no you na neko. (That cat's like a dog.)
  • Kanojo wa moderu no you na kao o shite iru. (She has a face like a model's.)

This should sufficiently cover the popular uses of you ni / na between verbs, nouns, or their combinations, as well as at the end of well-wishing words. It is involved in so many functions that I fear I may have forgotten one or two. If I find that I have, I'll add them later on.


10. Expressing Characteristics with suru

Although a bit hard to grasp at first, there is a form of suru which is used to show characteristics, mainly outward features which are visible or can be easily sensed. This use of suru has been already hinted at in examples used in the section above, so I will bring those two examples down here:

  • Beth wa wakaranai you na kao o shite iru. (Beth's face looks as if she doesn't understand.)
  • Kanojo wa moderu no you na kao o shite iru. (She has a face like a model's.)

In the first example, Beth is confronted with something hard to understand, and so makes a face — on purpose or not — which shows that. To be true to suru, you could think of it as meaning "does a face," but the natural English would be "makes a face" if intentional, or "has a face" if not. In either case ...o shite iru is used. In the second example, her face's looking like a model's does not rely on any forced facial expression, yet the same ...o shite iru form is used. Here are a couple more based on ...o suru:

  • Sonna iya na kao o shinakutemo ii yo! (You don't have to make such a disagreeable face!)
  • Ano koinu wa kawaii kao o shite iru. (That puppy has a cute face.)

For other "sensed" natural or passive things, especially sounds, smells, tastes and feelings, use ...ga suru:

  • Ame ga furu you na nioi ga suru. (It smells like it's going to rain.)
  • Obaa-san ga kaetta you na oto ga suru. (It sounds like Grandma is back.)
  • Kare wa yurusanai you na ki ga suru. (I have the feeling that he won't allow it.)


11. Expressing Results for Continued Actions with Base 4 + ba and Base 3 + hodo

This one is easier than the title makes it look. To convey "the more you (do something)..." put the verb in Base 4 with ba followed by the plain form (Base 3) of the same verb with hodo, then add your result:

  • Noboreba noboru hodo samukunaru. (The higher you climb the colder it gets.)
  • Amai mono o tabereba taberu hodo futokunaru yo. (The more you eat sweet things the fatter you'll get!)

With suru verbs only suru needs to be repeated:

  • Benkyou sureba suru hodo kashikokunaru. (The more you study the smarter you'll get.)


12. Te Form - Expressing No Results for Continued Actions

Let's now do the opposite of the above section and convey no change after the effort. One way to do this is with ikura + Te Form of the verb + mo:

  • Ikura yatte mo dekinai. (No matter how many times I try, I can't do it.)
  • Kore o ikura tabete mo futoranai. (You won't gain weight no matter how much of this you eat.)
  • Ano bangumi o ikura mite mo kashikokunaranai yo. (No matter how often you watch that program, you won't get any smarter.)
  • Kanojo wa ikura piano o renshuu shite mo issho. (No matter how much she practices the piano, there's no improvement.)

Note: Issho means "together; with," but is often used as it is in the above example to mean "the same," "no change," or "no progress."


13. Base 2 - Wanting to Do Things with tai

Base 2 with tai was covered briefly in Lesson 6 of my Japanese Verbs. Please remember that tai is only for wanting to do actions, and not wanting things. The following examples show a wide range of constructions possible using tai along with other conjugations. Please note how tai changes depending on these conjugations. Here I use iku (to go) in all the examples, but any verb could be used as long as it is in its Base 2 form.

  • Mise ni ikitai. (I want to go to the store.)
  • Boku wa ikitakunai. (I don't want to go.)
  • Issho ni ikitakatta. (I wanted to go with you.)
  • Hontou wa, ikitakunakatta. (Actually, I didn't want to go.)
  • Ikitakereba, issho ni ikimashou. (If you want to go, let's go together.)
  • Ikitakunakereba, ikanakute mo ii yo. (If you don't want to go, you don't have to.)
  • Kare no hanashi o kiitara, ikitakunatta. (After hearing what he said, I now want to go.)
  • Tenki wa warui kara, ikitakunakunatta. (Since the weather's bad, I now don't want to go.)
  • Raishuu ikitakunaru kamo shirenai. (Maybe I'll want to go next week.)
  • Ikitakunattara, denwa shite kudasai, ne. (If you decide that you want to go, please call me, okay?)
  • Ikitakunakunattara, denwa shite kudasai, ne. (If you decide that you don't want to go, please call me, okay?)

The naru element is sometimes difficult to grasp in English, but means "to become" something from either nothing or something else. Accordingly, ikitakunaru means literally "to become to want to go" and is used where there was or might have been a previous state of not wanting to go or indecision about going. Natta is the plain past tense of naru.

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