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Masu Base or Stem Form of Japanese Verbs


Japanese verbs have different tenses and different forms. One single Japanese verb can be changed into different forms and is used in different contexts. Different forms or tenses of verbs are used in different context of the sentence. In Japanese grammar there are different sentence patterns used to convey different meanings or ideas. These different forms and tenses of verbs are used in these sentence patterns.

Masu form of a verb is also called the “stem form” of a verb. This is the shortest form of a verb. The stem form cannot be used alone or individually, something has to be added to it to bring meaning to it. When “masu” is removed from the “masu form” the remaining part of the verb is the “stem form”. Hence the name “masu base”. This rule is same for all the three groups of Japanese verb. E.g.:

  • Mimasu (to see) – mi
  • Tabemasu (to eat) – tabe
  • Shimasu (to do) – shi

As specified earlier the “stem form” of the verb cannot be used alone. Following are the uses of “stem” form of verb:-

  1. When “nagara” is added to the verb’s masu base it means while doing this I do this. In other words, it shows simultaneous actions that take place. The structure is always Masu base + nagara. E.g:

    Watashiwa ongaku o kikinagara benkyou o shimasu. (I listen to songs and study.)

    Here I am showing the two simultaneous action of listening to music and studying are shown by this sentence pattern.

  • When “tai desu” is added to the masu base of a verb then it means “want to do something”. In other words, it shows the want of a person to do something. The structure is always masu base + tai desu. E.g.:

    Meera san wa kuruma o kaitai desu. ( Ms. Meera wants to buy a car.)

    Therefore, Meera’s want to buy a car is shown by this sentence pattern.

  • Verb’s masu base when joined to “ni” particle it shows the intension of a person in performing a particular action. The structure is always masu base + ni. E.g.:

    Watashiwa benkyo o shini nihon e ikimasu. ( I am going to Japan for studying.)

    In this example, my intention of going to Japan is for studying.

  • The masu base of a verb is also used to join sentences. The following example will clearly shows you this use:-

    Kimura san wa kiiroi seta wo ki, kuroi sukato wo haki, shiroi boushi wo khaburimashita. ( Miss Kimura is wearing a yellow sweater, a black skirt and a white cap.)

    Here instead of making three small sentences to describe what kimura is wearing only one sentence has been made by using the masu base of verbs.

    These are the uses of the stem form of Japanese verbs, which one should know if he/ she is aiming to appear for the N5 JLPT exam.



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