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 (る) 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 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:
う, 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)
まつ → まって (matsu → matte)
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.
む, 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)
あそぶ → あそんで (asobu → asonde)
しぬ → しんで (shinu → shinde)
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)
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)
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)
いく → いって (iku → itte)
Since these are irregular verbs, we need to memorize their て-form conjugations.
- Banno, E., Ohno, Y., Sakane, Y. and Shinagawa, C. An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese. The Japan Times, 1999