Wednesday, April 21, 2010

About Japanese Verbs - Plain Form

Level 5 – Honorific/Humble: certain words are substituted to increase the politeness level
To eat: meshi-wo-agarimasu (honorific) / itadakimasu (humble)
Level 4 – Without using Level 5, we can still achieve a higher level of politeness by changing the verbs into their “~masu” form
To eat: tabemasu
Level 3 – By using “desu” at the end of a Level 2 verb, we can bump up the politeness of a sentence without sounding too formal or too informal
To eat: taberu desu
Level 2 – An intimate form used between close friends and family as well as in the smaller phrases that occur in complex sentences, such as “the boy wearing a blue coat”
To eat: taberu
Level 1 – Vulgar or colloquial language; the word choice maybe deliberately course, a matter of sex/gender or dialect
To eat: kuu

Plain Forms (Level 2):
Japanese has several distinct levels of politeness, as noted above. A honorific/humble level (Level 5), a daily formal form, also called the “~masu” form (Level 4). At the familiar level (Level 2), we have the plain/informal form of the verbs. There are several types:

The regular える and いる
Then the semi-irregular groups of: -; -; -; -; -; -; -; -; -
And the completely irregular する andくる

Plain Positive:
These are also called the “dictionary form” because we find verbs in this form while consulting a dictionary. Every verb (including Level 5 and Vulgar/colloquial (Level 1) verbs). In their plain form, these verbs have their own distinct way of behaving.

In their natural form, these verbs are in their imperfect tense (to ~), but can mean “does,” “will do in the future,” or “will as a matter of habit.”

食べる taberu - (to eat)
見る miru - (to see)
履く haku - (to wear pants/shoes)
脱ぐ nugu - (to undress)
貸す kasu - (to lend)
待つ matsu - (to wait)
とる toru - - とった (to take)
*beware: some verbs that end with いる/える conjugate like this type of verb
買う kau - (to buy)
死ぬ shinu - (to die)
読む yomu - (to read)
飛ぶ tobu - (to fly)
する suru - (to do)
くる kuru - (to come)

John eats/will eat sushi. : ジョンは寿司を食べる。

In the case of です (desu), we have two forms: (da: used for casual speech and in newspapers and books) andである (dearu: for formal public addresses, such as speeches and official documents). In the case of true adjectives, we preserve them as is (大きい).
Plain Negative:
In this form, we create the opposite of the plain positive, and as one would think, these words be come “does not~,” “will not do in the future,” or “does not/will not do as a matter of habit.”

いる/える: Remove final and add ない (nai)
食べる食べ食べない taberu - (to not eat)
見る見ない miru - (to not see)

In the other verb's cases, let's make an easier way to conjugate for now and the future. Japanese has 5 types of vowel sounds: A I U E O. If we order these as A = 1, I = 2, U = 3, E = 4 and O = 5. To create the negative, all we must do for these verbs is simply change the U-sound tail into the corresponding A-sound and add ない. This can be called the V(erb-stem)1+ない form.

履く履か履かない hakanai - (to not wear pants/shoes)
脱ぐ脱が脱がない nuganai - (to not undress)
貸す貸さ貸さない kasanai – (to not lend)
待つ待た待たない matanai - (to not wait)
とるとらとらない toranai - - とった (to not take)
*beware: some verbs that end with いる/える conjugate like this type of verb
* the verb あるaru is irregular in this case: あるない to not exist (inanimate)
買う買わ買わない kawanai - (to not buy)
*this form is irregular through out - verbs
死ぬ死な死なない shinanai – (to not die)
読む読ま読まない yomanai – (to not read)
飛ぶ飛ば飛ばない tobanai – (to not fly)

The irregular verbs, being irregular, need to be memorized for their correct conjugation:

する becomes しない shinai – (to not do)
くるbecomes こない konai - (to not come)

John doesn't eat/will not eat sushi. : ジョンは寿司を食べない。

です, becomes じゃない in casual communication or ではない for official documents and public speeches. The final in true adjectives becomes -くない: 大きくない.

Plain Past-Tense:
One of the more vexing plain verb forms comes from a contraction of V2 stem with た; here it's called the V2'ta. Pay close attention to the divisions made because the grouped verbs behave the same:

いる/える: Remove final and add
食べる - 食べ - 食べた (to eat)
見る - - 見た (to see)

/: Change /into いた/いだ. The "ten-ten" remains preserved; i.e.: GU - IDA
履く - - 履いた (worn pants/shoes)
脱ぐ - - 脱いだ (undressed)

: Changes into した
貸す - - 貸した (lent)

//: Becomes った
待つ - - 待った (waited)
とる - - とった (took)
*beware: some いる/える verbs conjugate this way
買う - - 買った (bought)

//: Becomes んだ
死ぬ - - 死んだ (died)
読む - - 読んだ (read)
飛ぶ - - 飛んだ (flown)

Irregular: Must be memorized
する - した (did)
くる (来る) - きた (came)
行く - 行った (went)

True adjectives’ final is removed and is replaced by かった.
新しい - 新し - 新しかった (new)

***Coincidentally, to achieve the PAST-NEGATIVE, all we have to do is conjugate the final -ない like an adjective to get the plain past-negative form.***

食べる食べない食べなかった tabenakatta (did not eat)

です and だ becomeだった in informal exchanges and in books or newpapers. であった is used in the case of official notices or speeches.
The so called -te form is handy. By know it, we can begin to stack sentences to create longer and more complex thoughts, such as creating a sequence of actions, listing qualities and expressing modes of how something is done among other complex ideas. It conjugates like the V2'た form, but we obviously use て instead.

いる/える: Remove final and add
寝る - - 寝て (to sleep)
見る - - 見て (to see)

/: Change /into いて/いで. The ten-ten remains preserved; i.e.: GU - IDE
履く - - 履いて (to put on pants/shoes)
脱ぐ - - 脱いで (to undress)

: Changes into して
貸す - - 貸して (to lend)

//: Becomes って
待つ - - 待って (to wait)
とる - - とって (to take)
*beware: some いる/える verbs conjugate this way
買う - - 買って (to buy)

//: Becomes んで
死ぬ - - 死んで (to die)
読む - - 読んで (to read)
飛ぶ - - 飛んで (to fly)

Irregular: Must be memorized
する - して (to do)
くる (来る) - きて (来て - to come)
行く - 行って (to go)

True adjectives’ final is removed and is replaced by くて.
新しい - 新し - 新しくて (new)

です becomes .

The plain forms are, in general, more useful than the formal -masu forms, because these forms become imbedded phrases, can act like adjectives and are sentences in and of themselves.