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Basic Verb Conjugations - Polite Forms

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Basic Verb Conjugations - Polite Forms

Posted by flint about 3 months ago

#verbs#conjugation lessons

Learn how to conjugate verbs into the polite present, past and negative forms.

Polite Forms

In the last lesson we learned how to conjugate from the dictionary form to the basic plain forms. In this lesson, we will learn how to conjugate to the basic polite forms.

The main difference between plain and polite forms is the social context that they are used in. As the names suggest, plain forms are used between friends and family while polite forms are used with people you are not so close to. You use polite forms when you are aware of a "distance" between you and the listener, and wish to pay them respect.  Plain forms are used when you want to express your closeness and intimacy to the listener. As you meet people and make friends, you will transition from speaking using polite forms to becoming more casual and speaking in plain forms.

Be aware though that in certain social contexts the usage of plain and polite forms may not be mutual. Where there is an age difference, or a difference in social position (ie, student to teacher, or manager to employee situation), the more senior person may use plain forms when talking to the junior person, but it would be considered rude for the junior person to ignore the social distance between the two of them and switch to using plain forms in response.

While this is probably something that you are not accustomed to in your own social settings outside Japan, as you get more experience with the Japanese culture, it will become more natural for you. The important thing as a learner though is to be able to speak confidently using both plain and polite forms so that you are able to communicate naturally in either context.

Vocabulary

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Group 1: Ichidan Verbs

For Ichidan verbs, we conjugate to the polite forms by first creating the masu-stem.

  • Masu-stem - Remove the final る (ru) from the dictionary form

Once we have created the masu-stem, we can create all the basic polite conjugations using the following rules. This part of the process is exactly the same across all the different verb groups.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)

You can see examples of how these conjugations are formed below:

iru

Matched Conjugations

i
imasu
imasen
imashita
imasendeshita
ichidan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to be (of animate objects); to exist
oshieru

Matched Conjugations

oshie
oshiemasu
oshiemasen
oshiemashita
oshiemasendeshita
ichidan verb, transitive verb
  1. to teach
taberu

Matched Conjugations

tabe
tabemasu
tabemasen
tabemashita
tabemasendeshita
ichidan verb, transitive verb
  1. to eat
neru

Matched Conjugations

ne
nemasu
nemasen
nemashita
nemasendeshita
ichidan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to sleep (lying down)
  2. to go to bed
miru

Matched Conjugations

mi
mimasu
mimasen
mimashita
mimasendeshita
ichidan verb, transitive verb
  1. to see; to look

Group 2: Godan Verbs

For Godan verbs ending in う create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final う (u) from the dictionary form to い (i)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the exact same rules as you did for Ichidan verbs.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
au

Matched Conjugations

ai
aimasu
aimasen
aimashita
aimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to meet (逢う is often used for close friends, etc. and may be associated with drama or pathos; 遭う may have an undesirable nuance)
arau

Matched Conjugations

arai
araimasu
araimasen
araimashita
araimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to wash
iu

Matched Conjugations

ii
iimasu
iimasen
iimashita
iimasendeshita
godan verb
  1. to say
utau

Matched Conjugations

utai
utaimasu
utaimasen
utaimashita
utaimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb, intransitive verb
  1. to sing
kau

Matched Conjugations

kai
kaimasu
kaimasen
kaimashita
kaimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to buy (in western Japan, 買う conjugates euphonically as こうた, こうて, etc.)

For Godan verbs ending in く create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final く (ku) from the dictionary form to き (ki)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
aruku

Matched Conjugations

aruki
arukimasu
arukimasen
arukimashita
arukimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to walk
iku

Matched Conjugations

iki
ikimasu
ikimasen
ikimashita
ikimasendeshita
godan verb (iku/yuku), intransitive verb
  1. to go
kaku

Matched Conjugations

kaki
kakimasu
kakimasen
kakimashita
kakimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to write
kiku

Matched Conjugations

kiki
kikimasu
kikimasen
kikimashita
kikimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to hear
  2. to listen (e.g. to music) (esp. 聴く)

For Godan verbs ending in ぐ create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final ぐ (gu) from the dictionary form to ぎ (gi)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
oyogu

Matched Conjugations

oyogi
oyogimasu
oyogimasen
oyogimashita
oyogimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to swim
nugu

Matched Conjugations

nugi
nugimasu
nugimasen
nugimashita
nugimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to undress

For Godan verbs ending in す create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final す (su) from the dictionary form to し (shi)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
dasu

Matched Conjugations

dashi
dashimasu
dashimasen
dashimashita
dashimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to take out
hanasu

Matched Conjugations

hanashi
hanashimasu
hanashimasen
hanashimashita
hanashimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to talk

For Godan verbs ending in つ create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final つ (tsu) from the dictionary form to ち (chi)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
tatsu

Matched Conjugations

tachi
tachimasu
tachimasen
tachimashita
tachimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to stand
matsu

Matched Conjugations

machi
machimasu
machimasen
machimashita
machimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb, intransitive verb
  1. to wait
motsu

Matched Conjugations

mochi
mochimasu
mochimasen
mochimashita
mochimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to hold (in one's hand)

For Godan verbs ending in ぬ create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final ぬ (nu) from the dictionary form to に (ni)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
shinu

Matched Conjugations

shini
shinimasu
shinimasen
shinimashita
shinimasendeshita
godan verb, irregular nu verb, intransitive verb
  1. to die

For Godan verbs ending in ぶ create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final ぶ (bu) from the dictionary form to び (bi)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
asobu

Matched Conjugations

asobi
asobimasu
asobimasen
asobimashita
asobimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to play (games, sports)
  2. to meet up (with friends)
tobu

Matched Conjugations

tobi
tobimasu
tobimasen
tobimashita
tobimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to fly (esp. 飛ぶ)
  2. to jump (esp. 跳ぶ)

For Godan verbs ending in む create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final む (mu) from the dictionary form to み (mi)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
sumu

Matched Conjugations

sumi
sumimasu
sumimasen
sumimashita
sumimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to live (of humans); to reside
nomu

Matched Conjugations

nomi
nomimasu
nomimasen
nomimashita
nomimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to drink (呑む often means swallowing whole, gulping, etc.)
yasumu

Matched Conjugations

yasumi
yasumimasu
yasumimasen
yasumimashita
yasumimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to take a day off
  2. to rest
yomu

Matched Conjugations

yomi
yomimasu
yomimasen
yomimashita
yomimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to read

For Godan verbs ending in る create the masu-stem using the following rule:

  • Masu-stem - Change the final る (ru) from the dictionary form to り (ri)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
aru

Matched Conjugations

ari
arimasu
arimasen
arimashita
arimasendeshita
godan verb (irregular), intransitive verb
  1. to be; to exist (usu. of inanimate objects)
uru

Matched Conjugations

uri
urimasu
urimasen
urimashita
urimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to sell
kaeru

Matched Conjugations

kaeri
kaerimasu
kaerimasen
kaerimashita
kaerimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to return; to go home
shiru

Matched Conjugations

shiri
shirimasu
shirimasen
shirimashita
shirimasendeshita
godan verb, transitive verb
  1. to know
suwaru

Matched Conjugations

suwari
suwarimasu
suwarimasen
suwarimashita
suwarimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to sit
hairu

Matched Conjugations

hairi
hairimasu
hairimasen
hairimashita
hairimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to enter
hashiru

Matched Conjugations

hashiri
hashirimasu
hashirimasen
hashirimashita
hashirimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to run
wakaru

Matched Conjugations

wakari
wakarimasu
wakarimasen
wakarimashita
wakarimasendeshita
godan verb, intransitive verb
  1. to understand

Group 3: Irregular Verbs

For 来る(kuru), you only need to remember the masu-stem:

  • Masu-stem - The masu stem is 来 - き (ki)
Note that even though the hiragana character has changed from く to き in the masu-stem, the Kanji 来 stays the same, just the reading has changed.

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
kuru

Matched Conjugations

ki
kimasu
kimasen
kimashita
kimasendeshita
kuru verb, intransitive verb
  1. to come (spatially or temporally)

For する(suru), it is simplest to just remember the masu-stem:

  • Masu-stem - The masu stem is し (shi)

Then create all the basic polite conjugations using the normal rules.

  • Polite Present Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ます (masu)
  • Polite Present Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ません (masen)
  • Polite Past Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ました (mashita)
  • Polite Past Negative Form - Create the masu-stem and then add ませんでした (masendeshita)
suru

Matched Conjugations

shi
shimasu
shimasen
shimashita
shimasendeshita
suru verb (irregular)
  1. to do

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