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20 Common Verbs + Conjugating ます Form

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

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こんにちは、everyone! Welcome back to Teach Me Japanese.

Today we are going to be going over the 20 most common Japanese verbs, as well as how to conjugate them into the polite -ます form. The verbs below are currently in plain, or dictionary, form. While dictionary form may be used on it's own, it is usually reserved only for friends, so be careful!

That being said, let's get into the lesson!



  • ru-verb

いる --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to exist (humans and animals)

着る(きる)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to wear (clothes)

食ベる(たべる)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ to eat

出る(でる)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to exit

寝る(ねる)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to sleep

見る(みる)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to see; to look; to watch

  • u-verb

遊ぶ(あそぶ)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ to play

行く(いく)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to go

買う(かう)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to buy

帰る(かえる)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ to return; to go home

書く(かく)----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to write

立つ(たつ)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ to stand

作る(つくる)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to make

飲む(のむ)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ to drink

読む(よむ)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ to read

分かる(わかる)-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to understand

  • suru-verb

勉強する(べんきょうする)--------------------------------------------------------------------------- to study

  • irregular verb

来る(くる)------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to come

する ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to do

ある ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- to exist (things)


What is ます form?

When a verb ends in ます or ません, that is known as ます form. Adding ます or ません makes a sentence polite, so it is perfect to use in conversation with just about anyone.

ます form and dictionary form are part of the Japanese non-past tense. Basically, it describes something that you are going to do, or something that you commonly do:



--------->I'm going to buy a book.



---------->On Mondays, I usually go to the gym.

ません makes the sentence negative:



----------->There's no school on Saturdays.



-----------> I will not sleep today.

So how to conjugate the verbs? To get to that, you must first know that there are 4 main types of verbs in Japanese: ru-verb, u-verb, suru-verb, and irregular verb. Each have their own rules for conjugation, so you have to learn to conjugate each type separately. Don't worry, it's simpler than it sounds!



ru-verbs are the easiest to conjugate. To change a ru-verb such as たべる into ます form, you simply get rid of る and add ます/ません.(we basically just replace る with ます or ません) Like so:

  • たべる becomes たべます/たべません

  • ねる becomes ねます/ねません

  • みる becomes みます/みません

and so on, for all ru-verbs.


If you remember the hiragana chart, you'll know that most Japanese sounds follow an あ、い、う、え、お format. This is very important for conjugating verbs in Japanese, especially u-verbs.

That is because u-verbs conjugate to ます-form by changing the sound of the last character from an う sound to an い sound, and then adding ます or ません.

For example:

  • かう becomes かい, then かいます/かいません

  • かく becomes かき, then かきます/かきません

  • のむ becomes のみ, then のみます/のみません

and so on, for all u-verbs.

3)Suru Verbs

The rule for suru verbs is sort of like a mix of the rules for ru-verbs and u-verbs. You get rid of る, but then you change the う sound of the remaining す to an い sound(し) before adding ます/ません. Like this:

  • べんきょうする becomes べんきょうし, then べんきょうします/べんきょうしません

This isn't on our list of verbs today, but just to give to another example we will use ゲームする (to play a video game):

  • ゲームする becomes ゲームし, then ゲームします/ゲームしません

As you can see we followed the ru-verb rule by deleting る, and we followed the u-verb rule by changing す to し, then we added ます/ません to make it complete.

4)Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs are irregular because they make their own rules. There are only a few of them in Japanese, but the most important are する, くる, and ある. You have to memorize how to conjugate them separately.

する is conjugated in the same exact way as する verbs (yay!), so you just get rid of る and change す to し, then add ます/ません:

  • する becomes します/しません

くる is also conjugated by ditching る and changing the う sound of く to the い sound of き, then adding ます/ません:

  • くる becomes きます/きません

In the case of ます form, ある conjugates just like an う verb:

  • ある becomes あります/ありません


And that's it! It's much simpler than it seems, right?

Let us know if you have any questions about conjugation in the comments below and as always, がんばってね!


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