Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Te-Form Verbs

Learn How to Conjugate the Japanese Te-Form Verbs
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Ru-verbs

The て-form in Japanese is essential in grammar, and is used in multiple occasions (we will learn about all of them in the next lesson).

The ru-verbs () are the easiest to form in the て-form. Let’s use たべる (taberu), the word for “to eat”:

たべる (taberu) → たべて (tabete)

First, we remove the る, then add the て ending. This pattern works for all ru-verbs; however, the endings change with u-verbs and irregular verbs.

U-verbs

U-verbs have different て-form endings that vary on the ending syllable. For example, an u-verb can end with an う (u), つ (tsu), る (ru), む (mu), ぶ (bu), ぬ (nu), く (ku), ぐ (gu) or す (su). Let’s go over each of the endings by group:

**,** **つ** **and** **る** **endings**

When we form the て-form with an u-verb that ends with う, つ or る, we drop the final syllable and add って (tte). For example:

あう → あって (au → atte)

To meet

まつ → まって (matsu → matte)

To wait

とる → とって (toru → totte)

To take (pictures)

Remember, some verbs that end with る can be u-verbs, so know which type of verb it is before conjugating. When first learning these verbs, it may help to keep a list or make flashcards with u-verbs that end with る.

**,** **ぶ** **and** **ぬ** **endings**

The second group of u-verbs for て-form conjugation are verbs that end with either む, ぶ or ぬ. Like other て-form conjugations, we drop the final syllable, except the ending for these verbs are んで (nde). For example:

よむ → よんで (yomu → yonde)

To read

あそぶ → あそんで (asobu → asonde)

To play

しぬ → しんで (shinu → shinde)

To die

endings

When an u-verb ends with a く, the て-form ending is いて (ite). For example:

かく → かいて (kaku → kaite)

To write

endings

When an u-verb ends with a ぐ, the て-form ending is いで (ide). For example:

およぐ → およいで (oyogu → oyoide)

To swim

Irregular Verbs

Certain verbs do not follow the ru-verb or u-verb patterns: these are the irregular verbs in Japanese. Let’s go over the conjugations for the irregular verbs くる and いく:

くる → きて (kuru → kite)

To come

いく → いって (iku → itte)

To go

Since these are irregular verbs, we need to memorize their て-form conjugations.

References

  • Banno, E., Ohno, Y., Sakane, Y. and Shinagawa, C. An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. The Japan Times, 1999