A study of Japanese Verb Stem form to help master conjugations.

Hey everyone and welcome to another awesome online Japanese article from Bondlingo. Today we are going to be looking at the Verb stem form in Japanese and how it can be used to help you with Japanese conjugations. Its really useful to master the stem form, otherwise know as the 〜ますform because it’s essentially the foundation for all conjugations.

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Mastering the Verb Stem form in Japanese

First, we will look at what the verb stem form is, then we will find out exactly how to get to it from a standard plain form verb. We will also discuss how this is going to help you in other parts of your Japanese journey So if you are now ready to begin, lets get right into the journey and master the verb stem form in Japanese.

So, what exactly is the verb stem form?

So what is the Japanese stem form? Well, it’s basically a verb stripped down to the absolute route. Think of any ます verb form and take off the “masu” you will then be left with what is the verb stem form.

As you know, English verbs like “buy” can become “buys,” “bought,” or “buying,” well with Japanese verbs it’s exactly the same. In Japanese when it comes to conjugating verbs there is always a fixed part of that verb that remains constant. Thus when you conjugate verbs you do not change the meaning of the verb, just the tense in which you express it.

For example with 買う, かう kau, “to buy” か stays the same the whole time and what comes after dictates the tense of the verb. 

買うかうkauto buy 
買わないかわないkawanaito not buy

So as you can see, Japanese verbs consist of the fixed part of the verb as well as the bit that is conjugated. The fixed part is called the stem, however with Godan verbs you have to add い after the fixed section. Eg The か in かう would become かい.

In fact there are many names for this verb stem form, that are completely different depending on the textbook or teacher you have. Some you may have heard are V-stem, I form, -masu form and verb stem.

Learning to master this Stem form is super powerful for your Japanese as it will open the doors to limitless conjugations. It will make that process a lot easier and allow you to understand the fundamentals of the verb. Not only that but sometimes the stem form can be combined with other verbs to create super hybrid verbs like 飛び出す とだだす to jump out

Learning how to create the Japanese verb stem form

We are now going to look at how to create the step form with both group 1 and group 2 verbs so you can use this practically in your conjugation.

With group 1 verbs (Verbs that end in う) all you need to do is take the dictionary form of the verb and swap the final う for an い. Look at the table below to see some examples.

待つまつ -まち待ちTo wait
試すためす - ためし試しTo try
飲むのむ - のみ飲みTo drink
買うかう - かい買いTo buy
読むよむ - よみ読みTo read
聞くきく – きき聞きTo lsiten

Now lets have a close look at how group 2 verbs – いる and える verbs change into the stem form. With this all you need to do is take the dictionary form of the verb and remove the る it’s as simple as that. Please see a few examples below.

食べるたべる – たべ食べTo eat
開けるあける – あけ明けTo open

So really there isn’t much to finding the stem form of a verb, all it takes is just some simple conjugation. However, please keep in mind that there are also some exceptions to this too.

There are only 2 irregular verbs that you need to remember. These are:

来る くるwhich becomes 来き

する which becomes し

Now there are no set rules for these 2 verbs so you will have to just go out and remember these. Since there are only two you shouldn’t really find this all that challenging.

Remember to practice the conjugation to the stem form in each verb group as this will really help you with future conjugation and noun combination studies.

So guys that brings us to the end of todays online Japanese lesson on verb stem forms from Bondlingo, we really hope that you have enjoyed todays lesson and found some great value in it. As always if you have any questions or suggestions for content, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you Keep on moving forward with your Japanese journey and never give up. 

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