Speak Like Native Speakers Japanese Verb Conjugation I


 

Author :Isoko Durbin

Bodhi International Language Books

 

     When I was a student of an American university with linguistics concentration, I observed Japanese classes.  One day, I noticed that the verb conjugation taught in the class was different from what I learned in my Japanese school.  "Why?" I thought.  Why do you have to hide the simple Japanese verb chart from non-native speakers?  As I did more research, I noticed that they made up a different methodology because they do not believe that non-native Japanese speakers can understand all Japanese verb conjugations.  "That's ridiculous," I thought.  If the verb conjugation chart is very complicated, maybe.  But the reality is, it is pretty simple, even easier than how they teach to non-native speakers.  First of all, how will you be able to speak Japanese, while your teachers do not believe it?  Or they think it is not necessary?

     For one of linguistics classes, I had to do research on the second language education.  I chose my long time question for this project.  I taught Japanese verb conjugations to my American classmates in both native speakers' way and non-native speakers' way.  The result was that more  than 80 percent of my interviewees said native speakers' way is easier than non-native speakers' way.  Here is what my interviewees actually said:

 

     "(The native speakers' way) is organized and presented in a way that makes sense and shows how the verb conjugations are connected."

     '(The native speakers' way) shows the dictionary form before conjugation, so you know what you are working with."

     "(I like) how one word is shown conjugated multiple times.  So you can see the transformation."

 

     Here I will show you the native speakers' Japanese verb conjugation charts which your Japanese teachers do not believe you could ever understad, therefore hide from you!!  These charts are in my book, "Speak Like Native Speakers Japanese Verb Conjugation I" (12-5). 

 

1.  Five-Shift Conjugation (Godan Katsuyou)

     The last vowel of "five-shift conjugation" verbs changes when the verb is combined with another word.  It is called "five-shift conjugation" because the ending of the verb shifts in the range of the five vowels, /a/, /i/, /u/, /e/, and /o/, depending on the following word. 

Ending 1/ Ending 2 / Ending 3 / Ending 4 / Ending 5/

     a              i                u                e                o

 

     For example, the present polite affirmative auxiliary masu takes "Ending 2" or /i/, when it is connected with a five shift conjugation verb.  Therefore, the present affirmative form of nomu or "to drink" is nomimasu.   

     This must be pretty easy to understand if you know the Japanese letters "Hiragana," which have 5 vowels a, i, u, e, and o.  Let's go to the next category.

 

2.  Upper Conjugation (Kami Ichidan Katsuyou)

     The verbs of upper conjugation end in /i/, /iru/, /ire/, /iro/, or /iyo/.  This conjugation is called "upper" because /i/ is above the basic form /u/ in the letter chart.

Ending 1 / Ending 2 / Ending 3 / Ending 4 / Ending 5

     i                 i               iru              ire          iro (iyo)

 

3.  Lower Conjugation (Shimo Ichidan Katsuyou)

     The verb of lower conjugation end in /e/, /eru/, /ere/, /ero/, or /eyo/.  They are called "lower" because /e/ is lower than the basic form /u/ in the letter chart. 

Ending 1 / Ending 2 / Ending 3 / Ending 4 / Ending 5

     e               e               eru            ere          ero (eyo)

 

     These "Lower" and "Upper" are very similar.  The only difference is that whether the first vowel is "i" or "e."  After Ending 3, /r/ and a vowel are added in each Ending, but the pattern is very simple. The vowel shifts /u/, /e/ and /o/, just like "Five-Shift Conjugation."  Can you see the pattern here?        

 

4.  K-Irregular Conjugation (Ka Gyou Henkaku Katsuyou)

     The conjugation of the irregular verb kuru, -or "to come."  Unlike the regular conjugations, irregular verbs do not have a stem.  Instead, they change the whole shape of the word.

Ending 1 / Ending 2 / Ending 3 / Ending 4 / Ending 5

    ko             ki             kuru           kure          koyo

                                                                ku       

 

5.  S-Irregular Conjugation (Sa Gyou Henkaku Katsuyou)

     The conjugation of the irregular verb suru, -or "to do."  Suru makes a compound verb when it is connected with a noun.  For example, the noun benkyou or "studying" can precede suru.  The compound verb, benkyou suru, means "to study." 

Ending 1 / Ending 2 / Ending 3 / Ending 4 / Ending 5

   shi             shi           suru          suru          shiyo  

                                              sa                                                                shiro

                                              se                                                                 seyo

 

That's it!  This is all they (your Japanese teachers) are hiding from you, because they do not believe you will understand these simple charts!  Except the two irregular words, kuru and suru (only 2 words!), the conjugations are very simple, very logical, and very easy, if you know Hiragana has 5 vowels,  /a/, /i/, /u/, /e/, and /o/.         

 

     Let's move on to "How to Make a Stem" (31).

1.  5-Shift Conjugation Verbs

     Delete the -u from the basic form.  For example, the stem of yomu, -or "to read," is "yom."   

 

2.  Upper Conjugation Verbs

     Delete the -iru from the basic form.  For example, the stem of miru, -or "to watch," is "m."  

 

3.  Lower Conjugation Verbs

     Delete the -eru from the basic form.  For example, the stem of taberu, -or "to eat," is "tab."

 

Now, let's see how the formula of "Do" (Present Affirmative Form) works!  (41)

 

Plain Form: Stem + Ending 3

Polite Form: Stem + Ending 2 + masu

 

For example, 5-shift conjugation verb "kaku" is conjugated like below:

Plain Form: Stem + Ending 3 = kak + u = kaku

Polite Form: Stem + Ending 2 + masu = kak + i + masu = kakimasu

 

My book "Speak Like Native Speakers Japanese Verb Conjugation I" explains 54 different expressions with both Plain and Polite Forms, totaling 108 formulas.  This is the revolution of Japanese language education.  You will be able to conjugate by yourself after you study these formulas.

 

The book is available on Amazon.com.  Click the title below.

Speak Like Native Speakers Japanese Verb Conjugation I