Japanese Grammar 106 – Godan Verbs

Japanese verbs do not have singular/plural and don’t change the conjugation depending on the person they refer to.
They are divided into 3 main groups: godan verbs, ichidan verbs and ‘suru’/’kuru’ verbs (irregular).


The most common ones are the ‘godan verbs’.
In this group the positive base (dictionary form) ends in ­u, ­ku, ­gu, ­su, ­tsu, ­nu, ­bu, ­mu, ­ru.
There are 5 main bases for each verb:

1­. The negative base, used for the colloquial negative form
2­. the indefinite base, used to form the formal, positive sentences with the following endings:
+masu (present)/mashita (past)/tai desu (want to+verb)
3­. the positive base, used for the colloquial form of present and future
4­. the conditional/imperative base, used for the imperative or with the ending ­ru for the potential form (ability), or the ending ­ba for the conditional form
5­. this is not a real base, but is used to form the volitive of the verb

The ‘godan verbs’ change their ending depending on the base used:

Kaku (to write)
kaka negative
kaki indefinite (by adding ­masu you form the present)
kaku positive / colloquial (dictionary form)
kake conditional / imperative
kakō volitive

Examples:

Kare wa tegami o kakanai. (kaka+nai) – He doesn’t write a letter
Kare wa tegami o kakimasu. (kai+masu) – He writes a letter (formal)
Kare wa tegami o kaku – He writes a letter– (colloquial form)
Kare wa tegami o kakeru – He can write a letter
Tegami o kakō – Let’s write a letter

Kau (to buy)

Ka+wa negative
Ka+i indefinite
Ka+u positive / colloquial
Ka+e condizionale / imperative
Ka+ō volitive

Examples:

Karera wa hon o kawanai (kawa+nai) – They don’t buy the book
Karera wa hon o kaimasu (kai+masu) – They buy a book
Karewa wa hon o kau (kau) – They buy a book
Karera wa hon o kaeru (kae+ru) – They can buy a book
Hon o kaō – Let’s buy a book

Tsukuru (to build)

Tusuku+ra negative
Tsuku+ri indefinite
Tsuku+ru positive / colloquial
Tsuku+re conditional / imperative
Tsuku+rō volitive

Examples:

Kare wa tatemono o tsukura nai (tsukura+nai) – He doesn’t build a building
Kare wa tatemono o tsukurimasu.(tsukuri+masu) – He builds a building
Kare wa tatemono o tsukuru.(tsukuru) – He builds a building
Kare wa tatemono o tsukureru.(tsukure+ru) – He can build a building
Tatemono o tsukurō – Let’s build a building

Hanasu (to speak)

Hana+sa negative
Hana+shi indefinite
Hana+su positive / colloquial
Hana+se conditional / imperative
Hana+sō volitive

Examples:

Watashi wa nihongo o hanasanai – I don’t speak Japanese
Watashi wa nihongo o hanashimasu – I speak Japanese
Watashi wa nihongo o hanasu – I speak Japanese
Watashi wa nihongo o hanasemasu – I can speak japanese
Nihongo o hanasō – Let’s speak Japanese

Other ‘godan’ verbs are:

Yomu (to read), Iku (to go), Toru (to take), Iu (to say), Asobu (to play), Nomu (to drink), Oyogu (to swim), Matsu (to wait), ecc…

EXERCISE: 106 Godan Verbs | NEXT: 107 Ichidan Verbs