Japanese Plain Form

Japanese Plain Form

Overview

When we start learning Japanese (outside of Japan), we typical begin by learning the ~masu form of verbs. There is a few reasons for this, as it is easy to find the stem form, it is easy to find the ~te form and it’s generally considered polite to use ~masu form.

There is another form of verbs to learn and it is really important. It is called plain form or dictionary form as this is the way verbs are listed in a dictionary. Plain form is also used in casual conversations between family, friends, and familiar people.

Let’s take a quick look at some examples of plain form verbs alongside polite verbs:

polite plain english
のみます のむ to drink
たべます たべる to eat
つかいます つかう to use

Rules

Let’s go through the rules to change a verb from polite form to plain form, then we will show you some of the uses of plain form.


Group 1 Verbs

Verbs of this type include:

のみます、to drink / かいます、to buy / かきます、to write / つくります、to make

To change group 1 verbs into the plain form we start by removing the ます at the end of the verb. The last sound should now be a character that ends with an い-sound (い、き、し、ち、に、ひ、み or り).

Now simply change that last sound to an う-sound (う、く、す、つ、ぬ、ふ、む or る)

examples:

polite plain english
のみます のむ to drink
かいます かう to buy
かきます かく to write
つくります つくる to make

Group 2 Verbs

Verbs of this type include:

たべます、to eat / あけます、to open / でます、to depart / *みます、to look

To change group 2 verbs into the plain form, we simply remove the ます and add る. That’s it! Very simple.

examples:

polite plain english
たべます たべる to eat
あけます あける to open
でます でる to depart
みます みる to look

Group 3 Verbs

Verbs of this type include:

します、to do / きます、to come

You just need to remember what the plain form of these verbs are.

examples:

polite plain english
します する to do
きます くる to come

Plain form in action

Nominalising verbs

When we want to make a verb into a noun so we can talk about it. For example: “I like watching movies.”

To nominalise a verb, we simply add こと to the plain form of a verb.

Examples:

  1. I like eating chocolate.

    チョコレート を たべること が 好きです。

  2. I like watching movies.

    えいが を みること が すきです。


Stating intention

When you want to state what you intend to do. For example: “Tonight, I intend to drink coffee.”

To use this grammar point we simply add つもり to the end of the verb in plain form.

Example:

  1. I intend to drink coffee.

    コーヒー を のむつもり です。


Standard tense

Just like with polite form, we can state the past, future, negative past and negative future. Another important feature is that it allows us to do the negative ~te form of a verb.

General Examples:

English Japanese
I will watch みる
I won’t watch みない
I ate たべた
I didn’t eat たべなかった
Please don’t eat this これ を たべないで ください
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