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Verb Conjugations


6 Nov 2011
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I'm having some difficulties with verb conjugations. I want to lightly go over what I know, which is, in short, basic verb conjugations are sort of grafted over the hiragana chart in sort of columns (if the Hiragana chart is vertical). In addition, there are many other conjugations as outlined here:


I'm trying to distill this information in an uber Japanese Verb Conjugation Google doc so I can properly study it with verb example sentences, but I'm running into problems with what I thought I already knew, what people are telling me and a few new things. Please correct what I have and provide any example sentences that may be helpful. Confirmation is also useful if anything here is right.

So, let me start off with some basic stuff where I most recently got confused just by saying what I think I know:

待つ - This is original, う, dictionary form or 辞書形(じしょけい) (as the chart puts it). This and 待って are considered present tense or 現在形(げんざいけい). I originally thought that テ形(テけい) or て form was only used for present tense, but I recently was told that いる(います。) used at the end of a conjugation is what makes it present tense. For example: 私は食べています。 "I am eating."

待たない - From what I just re-re-re-learned, this is the "root negative form" (those are my words) and it's from this we can derive the next 3 conjugations. As an example of this by itself we can say 私は待たないです。 Does this mean "I'm not waiting." or "I will not wait"?

待たないで - Adding で gives us a command which we can use like this: 待たないでください。 "Please don't wait." (This is kind of the opposite of 待ってください。)

待たなくて - ない is considered a い adj or い形容詞(いけいようし)and has a て form. (as a side note, when using multiple い adjs to describe something, it functions similarly to this going from い to くて) This is the negative て form. It literally means "(currently) not waiting."? What is a good example sentence here? Is this the same thing used in something like: あなたは私を待たなくていいです。 which is "You don't have to wait for me." Can you say "待たなくてもいいですか? which is something like "Is it OK not to wait?" Is this considered a negative polite question? Is this the same thing as: 待ってもいいですか?which is "Is it OK to wait?" I'm assuming you cannot say: 待たないでもいいですか?

待たなければ - This is one of the ifs. It means, "If you don't have to wait... " then something. 私は待たなければ、いいです。 "It's good if I don't have to wait."?

待て - This is the potential form. 待てます・待てません These mean "can wait" and "cannot wait" respectively.

Do you always conjugate 食べられない and 食べられます for あ and え forms respectively? I often hear the ら or both ら and れ omitted, but I remember a teacher saying that in proper Japanese they should be used. (as a side note, she also said this should also always go for using を with する, such as in 説明(せつめい)をする, even though it's often omitted as well) Any truth to this?

OK, I'm going to stop here so I can await replies to shatter my hopes and dreams of understanding this. Please be clear and detailed if need be in explanations. Thanks!


22 Feb 2008
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The tense of the dictionary form and "the -te form + いる" are not so simple. The meaning of these forms changes depending on the type of the verbs. For instance, the dictionary form of state verbs expresses the present tense, whereas the dictionary form of action verbs usually can't express the present tense. Instead, the ~ている is used for the present tense of action verbs. Further, the ~ている of continuative verbs is the present progressive tense, but the ~ている of instantaneous verbs expresses the present state.
I recommend to use textbooks.
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