The usage of verbs in Japanese is very unique, and very different from European languages such as English. In Japanese, verbs stay the same whether the speaker is talking in first, second, or third person, and whether the subjects is singular or plural. So in Japanese, the verb in "I go", "you go", "he/she/it goes", "we go", "you go", and "they go" doesn't change at all. In all cases, that word would be "ikimasu".

Furthermore, Japanese has very few irregular verbs as opposed to English (for a list of English irregular verbs, see this site).

The dictionary form

In Japanese, every verb has a dictionary form, that is, a form of the verb that is shown in dictionaries. You can convert verbs from this form to ones such as the masu form, the masen form, or the mashita form. All dictionary form verbs end in a syllable must end in u, ku, su, tsu, nu, mu, ru, gu, or bu).

Two kinds of verbs

All verbs, with two exceptions, which we will discuss later, fall in to two categories. The first category is verbs that end in ru with an "i" or "e" before ru, and the second category contains all other verbs. Here are a few verbs from the first category in their dictionary form:

to eat
to see, to watch
to wake up

And here are a few verbs from the second category in their dictionary form:

to ride, to get on
to read
to buy

The masu form

The most commonly used verb form is the masu form, which puts the verb in present or future tense. The obvious common trait of verbs in this form is that they all end in masu. There is a way to convert verbs in their dictionary form to masu for each of the two verb categories. For the first category, you remove the final "ru" from the word and add "masu". For the second category, you remove the final "u", and add "imasu". To further understand this, see the chart below.

Property Remove Add
Verb ends in "iru" or "eru" -ru +masu
Verb ends another way -u +imasu

Here are some sample verb conversions, using the verbs provided above:

Dict. form Property? Remove Add Result
taberu Ends in "eru" -ru +masu tabemasu
miru Ends in "iru" -ru +masu mimasu
okiru Ends in "iru" -ru +masu okimasu
noru Ends in something else -u +imasu norimasu
yomu Ends in something else -u +imasu yomimasu
kau Ends in something else -u +imasu kaimasu


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