Japanese Verbs Forms

masu form-

  • This is the “formal form” and it is suitable in a wide range of circumstances.
  • In Japanese, verbs are not affected by their subject.
  • The subject is singular or plural, first person or second person, the verbs do not change their form. Concerning verb tenses, there are only two divisions of time-
    1-non-past (present tense and future tense)
    2-past. Present and future tenses are the same.

Plain form—-

  • The basic forms of Japanese verb are-
    -root form
    -nai form
    -ta form
    -nakatta form.

We call these four forms “Plain Form”.

  • The plain form can be used instead of masu form in casual situations.
    Sentences that end with the plain form are less formal and each form refers to affirmative, negative and tense. In this usage, the plain form is also called the casual form.
Plain – Root form (dictionary form)-

This form is the most basic form of verb and Japanese dictionaries use this form.
When you search for ikimasu in a dictionary, you need to look up not ikimasu, but iku.
So, this form is also called the dictionary form.
This form is used as the non-past affirmative instead of -masu in casual speech, and is used with various functional patterns.

Plain – nai form-

This form is used as the non-past negative form in casual speech, and is used with various functional patterns as well as the root form.

Plain – ta form-

The verb ta form is used as the past affirmative form in casual speech but this form, grammatically, indicates a completion of an action.
So it is used with the several patterns to express something in the future.

Plain – nakatta form-

This form is used as the past negative form in casual speech.
To make the nakatta form, change the -nai ending of the nai form to -nakatta.

Te form-

The te form by itself is used to combine two or more sentences or is used to indicate a cause or a means.
This form is also used with various functional patterns.
The te form is made in the same way the ta form is made. Just change the ending -ta to -te.

Conditional form (ba form)-

This form makes the conditional clause meaning “If”, “when” or “in case”, and this conditional pattern is called the ba conditional because the conditional form ends with ba, like tabereba or mireba.
This form is not the only one used to express a conditional in Japanese. Conditional clauses are also made by the ta form + ra (-tara), root form + to and root form + nara.

Potential form-

This form means “be able to do” or “can do”.
The potential form of a Group 2 verb is the same as its passive form.

Imperative form-

This form expresses a command or order meaning “Do!” or “Don’t do!”.
Although this form is not used in ordinary conversation, it is used to quote an order or request, or is used in road signs, slogans or notices.

Volitional form-

The verb volitional form expresses the speaker’s intention like the verb stem + mashoo.
The stem + mashoo is formal and the volitional form is casual.
The volitional form is frequently used among friends and colleagues.

Causative form-

This form means “to make someone do something”.

Masu Form AffirmativeNegative
  kakimasu kakimasen 
  to wirteto not write
  present/future tensepresent/future negative
  kakimashita kakimasen deshita 
  writtendid not write
  past tensepast negative
Plain form AffirmativeNegative
 Non-pastroot formnai form
 Pastta formnakatta form
  kaku kakanai 
  writewill not wite
  kaita kakanakatta 
  have writtenhave not written
Te form   
Used to combine sentenses 書いて 
Converting to verb forms   
Root formkaku always made from u column from hiragana table 
Masu formkakimasu from root form to “i” column of hiragana table + masu