Japanese Grammar Lesson 7: Casual (dictionary) verb form

It has been quite a long time since last grammar lesson! If you still remember, it was about counters!

Today I am going to proceed with the sentences construction patterns and teach you a new verb form.

In past grammar lessons I taught you about building sentences in the affirmative, negative, interrogative and past forms, as well as their combination. This was in the formal pattern. This time I will introduce you to a new verb form which is basically used in conversations. So it is basically the same meaning as the ones I have taught before, but in a different pattern, a more informal one.

This form is called the “dictionary form”, because it is the verb form that appears on the dictionary when you search for it.

So, first of all, let’s separate verbs in three groups.

THIRD GROUP: suru (shimasu), kuru (kimasu), miru (mimasu)
FIRST GROUP: Verbs whose -masu form end in romaji letter I
SECOND GROUP: The rest of the verbs (the ones whose -masu form doesn’t end in romaji letter I)

I purposely started with the third group, because it includes the exceptions. There should be some more difficult verbs that are also included in this group, but for now it is enough to know these ones.

Their dictionary form is already written above (suru, kuru, miru).


The first group is, as it is written, constituted by verbs like ikimasu, nomimasu, hashirimasu, etc.

To get to their dictionary form, you just have to take out the -masu, and substitute the romaji letter I for U. In the three examples above: ikimasu -> iku; nomimasu -> nomu; hashirimasu -> hashiru.


The second group contains verbs like tabemasu, kazoemasu, kakemasu, etc.

Here, the dictionary form is formed by taking out the -masu part, and adding -ru. In the examples above: tabemasu -> taberu; kazoemasu -> kazoeru; kakemasu -> kakeru.

The meaning of this form is exactly the same. So, the sentence:

Watashi wa Nihon he ikimasu (I go to Japan)

can also be written as:

Watashi wa Nihon he iku (I go to Japan)

This form is used when talking to friends or family, so don’t use it when talking, for example, with your boss! 😉

In next lesson I will get a bit deeper with this dictionary verb form and teach you its negative and interrogative patterns!


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