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Importants of Plain Form of Japanese Verbs

Plain forms of Japanese verbs are used in daily conversations with family and friends. This is the reason why at times the plain form is also called as the informal form of verbs

Different level of Japanese language is spoke with different people based on factors like the relationship the speaker shares with the listener, with seniors, with friends and with family members. The polite form of verbs is used in formal conversations.

As we know that the plain form of Japanese verbs include the dictionary form or the root verb form of verbs, the "te" form, the "ta" form, the "nai" form and the "nai de" form of verbs. We have already discussed about the uses of dictionary form of verbs and the way to convert a given verb into dictionary form. In this lesson, we will move further and learn the different uses of the remaining plain forms of Japanese verbs like "te" form, "ta" form, "nai" form and "nai de" form.

Uses of "te" form of Japanese verb:

This form of Japanese verbs is called "te" form because the verbs end either in "te" or in "de". "Te" form has many different uses, which have been listed below along with some examples.

  1. "te" form of verb when used along with "kara" means after doing this I do that. The pattern is "te" form + kara. E.g.

    Watashi wa benkyou wo shite kara terebi wo mimasu. ( I will study and then watch television.)

    In this form, the first action has to be completed and then only the second action starts.

  1. The sentence pattern "te" form + kudasai means please do this. Here the "te" form of the verb is added to kudasai. This is a form used while requesting someone to do something for you. E.g.

    Hayaku aruite kudasai. (Please walk fast.)

  2. "te" form of verb when added to imasu forms a sentence pattern "te" form + imasu. This pattern indicates the present continuous tense. In other words, the action is still going on or still taking place. It is similar to the "ing" form of the English grammar. E.g.

    Ima ame ga futte imasu. (It is raining just now.)

  3. "Te" form is also used to show that by doing this action or using this I do this action. The following example will make the meaning clear to you:

    Hashi wo tsukatte watashi wa ramen wo tabemasu. (By using chopsticks, I eat noodles.)

    Here by using the chopsticks I perform the action of eating.

    Present perfect tense is also shown by using the "te" form of verb. The difference between present perfect tense and present perfect tense is that in case of present continuous, the action is taking place in front of us and it is not yet completed. The action is still taking place. In case of Present perfect tense, the action has taken place and has been completed but its results are still being seen by us and have not undergone any changes. E.g.

Ari san wa megane wo kakete imasu. (Mr. Ari is wearing spectacles.)

Another use of the "te" form of Japanese verbs is to show habitual actions. By "habitual actions", we mean to say that the actions, which you have been, doing since a long, time and have got used to it or have got an habit of it. E.g.:

Watashi wa mai nichi asagohan no ato de shinbun wo yonde imasu. (Everyday after breakfast I read the newspaper.)

In Japanese grammar, "te" form is also used as a conjunction. The conjunction is used to show the actions which are done in a particular order or sequence. In short the "te" form shows sequential actions. E.g.:

Watashi wa asa shichi ji ni okite, asagohan wo tabete, hachi ji ni daigaku e ikimashita. (I woke up at 8o’clock in the morning, ate my breakfast and went to school.)

In the example, we will see that "te" for has been used to describe the actions which have taken place but in a proper sequence.

  • Another important use of "te" form is to describe how a particular action is performed. E.g.

    Sensei wa itsumo isu ni suwatte oshiemasu. (The teacher always sits in a chair and teaches.) In the above example we will see that the action of teaching is done by sitting in the chai. Hence, the "te" form shows us the way in which the teacher performs the action of teaching.

  • "te" form is also used to give reasons. It means "because of/ due to" in English. However, this form is not applicable to all the verbs. The form is used to show things which occure or take place unknowingly, also to verbs, which display feelings, like getting bored, falling ill, becoming happy etc. E.g.:

    Takusan shigoto wo shite tsukaremashita. (Because of lots of work I am tired.)

    Uses of "ta" form of Japanese verb:

    This form of Japanese verbs is called "ta" form because the verbs end with the "ta" consonant. In plain form of Japanese verbs "ta" form means past tense. For the N5 level of JLPT there are very few uses of this form which the examinee need to learn. The uses are describes below along with appropriate examples.

    1. When "ta" form of verb is followed by "ato de" it means after doing this. "ato" means after. The sentence pattern is "ta" form + ato de.


      Kinou eiga wo mita ato de uchi e kaerimashita. (Yesterday after watching the movie, I returned home.)

    2. Another sentence pattern in Japanese grammar where "ta" form of a verb is used is the "…tari… tari shimasu" form. This form is used to show the various actions which we do but not compulsorily in a sequential order. Another use is to show opposite actions. E.g.:

      Kinou watashiwa tomodachi to attari eiga wo mitari gohan wo tabetari shimashita. (Yesterdai I met my friend, saw a movie, had food.)

      Mado wo aketari shimetari shimasu. (The window is opening and closing.)

      In the first example, I am talking about the things I did yesterday but does not compulsorily say that in this particular order only. In the second example, the opposite actions of opening and closing are described by using the "ta" form of the verb.

      Uses of "nai" and "nai de" forms of Japanese verb: The use of the "nai" and "nai de" for the N5 level is only one for each. "Nai" form indicates a negative sentence. The meaning of "nai de" form will be clear through its use. Example of nai form is:

      Kohi wo nomanai. (Do not drink Coffee.)

      "Nai de" is most of the times followed by "kudasai". The sentence form "nai de kudasai" maens please do not do. E.g.:

      Ookii koe de hanasanai de kudasai. (Please do not talk in loud voice.)

      All the above described verb forms and their uses are very important part of the syllabus of the N5 level of JLPT exam. The candidate should learn them thoroughly. The dokkai section of the exam has questions related to this grammar. Candidates, who have understood these uses and are clear with the concept, will have no difficulty in gaining full marks in these questions.

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