Welcome to your one-stop shop for mastering Japanese! Today, we’re going to take a look at simple sentences and learn how to take them a step further by creating compound sentences. In this lesson, we will focus on the て (te) form and how to use it to combine two actions into one sentence. 

JLPT N4 Summary of Japanese Verb Conjugation forms | Learn Japanese online

Round one, fight!

Japanese Verb Review

Before we begin with the て (te) form, let’s review some common verbs. In Japanese, there are three kinds of verbs: uverbs, ruverbs, and irregular verbs.

Uverbs are verbs that end in “u” (as in “oo”) sounds. Here are some examples of uverbs.

U-VERBS

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
歌うutauto sing
立つtatsuto stand
取るtoruto take (a picture)
飲むnomuto drink
遊ぶasobuto play
歩くarukuto walk
脱ぐnuguto remove (clothing)
話すhanasuto talk

Ru-verbs are verbs that end with the hiragana character る (ru). However, keep in mind that sometimes verbs ending in る can be considered uverbs (like 取る above). Here are a few examples of ruverbs.

PR

RU-VERBS

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
寝るneruto sleep
起きるokiruto wake up

And, lastly, these are the irregular verbs.

IRREGULAR VERBS

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
するsuruto do
来るkuruto come

Now that we’ve gone over some common verbs, let’s create a few sentences!

僕はカラオケで友達と歌った。
Boku wa karaoke de tomodachi to uatta.
I sang with my friends at karaoke.
彼はりんごの写真を取りました。
Kare wa ringo no shashin wo torimashita.
He took a picture of an apple.

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Conjugating Verbs into the て Form

Now that we’ve reviewed some common verbs, let’s conjugate them into their て form. 

Conjugating verbs into the て form depends on the type of verb you’re using. 

With u-verbs, you remove the last hiragana character of the word and replace it with the character according to the chart below. 

GUIDE TO CONVERTING U-VERBS INTO THE -TE FORM

If it ends in……replace it with…
う ・ つ ・ るu           tsu   ruってtte
む ・ ぬ ・ ぶmu          nu buんでnde
kuいてite
guいでide
suしてshite

NOTE: An exception is the verb 行く (iku, to go), which becomes 行って (itte) (see table below).

Now, let’s take the u-verbs from earlier and conjugate them into their て forms!

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U-VERBS (-TE FORM)

JapaneseRomaji
  ➝ 歌ってutau  ➝ utatte
  ➝ 立ってtatsu  ➝ tatte
  ➝ 取ってtoru  ➝ totte
  ➝ 飲んでnomu  ➝ nonde
  ➝ 遊んでasobu  ➝ asonde
  ➝ 歩いてaruku  ➝ aruite
  ➝ 脱いでnugu  ➝ nuide
  ➝ 話してhanasu  ➝ hanashite
  ➝ 行ってiku  ➝ itte

With ru-verbs, you remove the final hiragana character る (ru) and replace it with て.

RU-VERBS (-TE FORM)

JapaneseRomaji
  ➝ 寝てneru  ➝ nete
起き  ➝ 起きてokiru  ➝ okite

And, finally, here are the irregular verbs.

IRREGULAR VERBS (-TE FORM)

JapaneseRomaji
する  ➝ してsuru  ➝ shite
来る  ➝ 来てkuru  ➝ kite

Using the て Form to Connect Actions

In elementary school, we first learn how to construct simple sentences when writing.

I eat breakfast.
I drink orange juice.

However, when we get older, we learn that using only short simple sentences over and over can get boring after a while. Plus, that’s not the way people speak naturally. Therefore, as a second step to constructing sentences, we are taught how to combine two actions in one sentence to form a compound sentence. This is done in English by using the word “and.”

 I eat breakfast and drink orange juice.

I eat breakfast.I drink orange juice.

The same goes for Japanese. Too many short simple sentences strung together can get monotonous. Japanese people, just like English speakers, like variation in sentence structure when speaking and reading longer works. Let’s take a look at how the two simple sentences above work in Japanese!

EnglishI eat breakfast.I drink orange juice.
Japanese私は朝ご飯を食べる。私はオレンジジュースを飲む。
RomajiWatashi wa asa-gohan wo taberu.Watashi wa orenji juusu wo nomu.

Now, Let’s remove the second “Watashi wa” and combine the two actions to form one sentence by using the て form of “taberu.

 私は朝ご飯を食べて、オレンジジュースを飲む。Watashi wa asa-gohan wo tabete, orenji juusu wo nomu.I eat breakfast and drink orange juice.
私は朝ご飯を食べる。Watashi wa asa-gohan wo taberu.私はオレンジジュースを飲む。Watashi wa orenji juusu wo nomu.

Now that we know how to connect two actions to form one sentence by using the て form, let’s create some more sentences!

Example Sentences:

私は朝早く起きて、夜早く寝る。
Watashi wa asa hayaku okite, yoru hayaku neru.
I wake up early and go to bed early.
彼は友達と遊んで、一緒にカラオケを歌う。
Kare wa tomodachi to asonde, issho ni karaoke wo utau.
He hangs out with his friends and they sing karaoke together.
毎日彼女は公園に行って、自然の写真を取ります。
Mainichi kanojo wa kouen ni itte, shizen no shashin wo torimasu.
She goes to the park and takes pictures of nature every day.
サマンサはカフェでコーヒーを飲んで、日本語を勉強します。
Samansa wa kafe de koohii wo nonde, nihongo wo benkyou shimasu.
Samantha drinks coffee and studies Japanese at a cafe.

In Summary

Using the て form of verbs is one way of connecting two actions to form one sentence. It links two simple sentences to form a compound sentence much the same way that “and” does in English.

Conjugating verbs into the て form depends on the type of verb you’re using.

With uverbs, you substitute the final hiragana character of the dictionary form with the character according to this chart:

If it ends in……replace it with…
う ・ つ ・ るu           tsu   ruってtte
む ・ ぬ ・ ぶmu          nu buんでnde
kuいてite
guいでide
suしてshite

With ruverbs, you substitute the final る character with て.

And with the irregular verbs, する becomes して and 来る becomes 来て.

Now that you know how to combine two actions using the て form, it’s time to get out there and practice! Impress your Japanese teacher or partner with how concise you’ve become with your speaking and writing!

Practice, practice, practice!

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