Godan Verbs 五段活用動詞

第18課: Godan Verbs 五段活用動詞

In this lesson, we’ll look at the Godan verb class, commonly known as “u-verbs” as all such verbs end in this vowel. Although how these verbs conjugate is no different, the Godan bases are very different looking with lots of sound changes with certain conjugations. 50% of verbs fall into this class, so learning these rules will be quintessential.

Before we get into new content, let’s recap on important terminology we’ve discussed thus far which will be relevant to the overall topic of this lesson. 

  • VerbA word that describes an action, state, or occurrence. It may constitute the predicate at the end of a sentence or be part of a noun-predicate when used as a participle/modifier. 
  • PredicateThe part of a sentence that makes a statement about the subject. 
  • Intransitive VerbA verb that only takes a subject and does not take an object. Abbreviated in definitions as “intr.” 
  • Transitive VerbA verb that takes both a subject and an object. Abbreviated in definitions as “trans.”
  • AuxiliaryAn ending that helps construct verbal conjugations.
  • ObjectA noun that is directed by the main verb of the sentence.
  • Direct ObjectA word that receives the action of the main verb of the sentence.
  • Case Particle: A particle that denotes a particular grammatical function/case.
  • Base: One of the six forms that a verb may take which is then followed by endings (auxiliaries, etc.). 
  • Terminal/Predicative FormKnown in Japanese as the Shūshikei 終止形, it marks the end of a complete sentence/the predicate. 
  • Attributive FormKnown in Japanese as the Rentaikei 連体形, it is used to make a verb, adjective, etc. into a modifier that goes directly before a noun. 
  • Basic Form: The basic form of any given phrase is utilized in plain speech and in many grammatical circumstances. The basic form encompasses both the predicative and the attributive forms in the context of verbs and adjectives. 
  • Godan Verb: The Japanese name for this class relates to how all five vowels are present among the bases of said verbs, which is in contrast to Ichidan Verbs which only display one vowel in all their bases. 

The Basic/Non-Past Form  五段活用動詞の基本形・非過去形

The non-past tense of a verb stands for either the present tense or future tense, but it also corresponds to the “to form” of verbs. No conjugation occurs to make the non-past in plain speech, but the basic form and its two iterations – the predicative form (終止形) and the attributive form (連体形) – are still in play. 

Godan verbs differ from Ichidan verbs by the stem ending in a consonant as opposed to a vowel. There are 9 possible consonants that can end the stem, each constituting a sub-type within Godan verbs.  

Sub-Type Meaning Basic FormStem
 K-Type カ行  To write Kaku 書くKak-
 G-Type ガ行  To swim Oyogu 泳ぐOyog
 S-Type サ行  To talk/speak Hanasu 話すHanas
 T-Type タ行  To win Katsu 勝つKat
 N-Type ナ行  To dieShinu 死ぬShin
  B-Type バ行  To choose Erabu 選ぶ  Erab
 M-Type マ行  To read Yomu 読むYom
 R-Type ラ行  To change (intr.) Kawaru 変わるKawar
 W-Type ワ行  To buy Kau 買う  Kaw

The Japanese naming convention for the 9 sub-types refers to the first mora of each type’s respective “row” =gyō 行 in the Table of 50 Sounds (五十音図).

There are a few anomalies that can be gleamed from this chart. 

The first thing to take note of is the existence of /w/ in the stems of W-Type Godan verbs. The /w/ does surface in some conjugations, but it is thought that at one point, verbs like /kau/ were pronounced as [kawu]. 

The second thing to take note of is that the verb /shinu/ meaning “to die” is the only verb in Standard Japanese that ends in /nu/. As such, its conjugations will always be specifically noted out of necessity and not out of a need to sound morbid. 

1. 小説を書く。
Shōsetsu wo kaku.
To write a novel.

2. いつか死ぬ。
Itsuka shinu.
To one-day die.

3. 世界が変わる。
Sekai ga kawaru.
The world will change.

4. 美味しい食べ物を買う。
Oishii tabemono wo kau.
To buy delicious food. 

The Polite Non-Past Form w/ –masu  ます 
非過去の丁寧形 (~ます)

It’s time to learn how the auxiliary verb –masu ます works with Godan verbs. Although it always attaches to the “continuative form” (Ren’yōkei 連用形), this base looks different with Godan verbs. This is because each base of a Godan verb corresponds to a different vowel that follows the stem. For the continuative form, the stem is followed by /i/. 

Sub-Type Stem + /i/ =Continuative Form + –masu ます Meaning
K-Type  Kak– + /i/ → Kaki  Kakimasu 書きます  (Does/will) write
G-Type  Oyog– + /i/ → Oyogi  Oyogimasu 泳ぎます  (Does/will) swim
S-Type  Hanas– + /i/ → Hanashi  Hanashimasu 話します  (Does/will)
T-Type  Kat– + /i/ → Kachi  Kachimasu 勝ちます  (Does/will) win
N-Type  Shin– + /i/ → Shini  Shinimasu 死にます  (Does/will) die
B-Type  Erab– +/i/ → Erabi Erabimasu 選びます  (Does/will) choose
M-Type  Yom– + /i/ → Yomi  Yomimasu 読みます  (Does/will) read
R-Type  Kawar– + /i/ → Kawari  Kawarimasu 変わります  (Does/will change) (intr.)
W-Type  Kaw– + /i/ → Kai  Kaimasu 買います  (Does/will) buy

Grammar Note: Remember that the attributive form of –masu ます is not grammatical in basic polite speech, and so it cannot be placed before a noun.

5. 私はいつもパチンコで勝ちます。

Watashi wa itsumo pachinko de kachimasu.
I always win at pachinko.

6. 日本が変わります。
Nihon ga kawarimasu.
Japan will change.

7. スペイン語を話します。
Supeingo wo hanashimasu.
I speak Spanish.

8. よくマンガを読みます。
Yoku manga wo yomimasu.
I often read manga.

9. 全員死にます。
Zen’in shinimasu.
Everyone dies/will die.

The Plain Past Form w/ –ta た  

To form the past tense in plain speech for Godan verbs, you still use the continuative form with the auxiliary verb –ta た. However, the stem of most sub-types undergoes a sound change. This does not happen with the other verb classes, and so we will be looking at each sub-type individually to learn the rules.

■K-Type Godan Verbs

  • Drop the /k/ in the stem, attach /i/, then add –ta た.
Basic Form Conjugation ProcessPlain Past Tense w/ –ta た
Kaku 書く (to write)Kak– /i/ → Kaki → Kai Kaita 書いた (wrote)

■G-Type Godan Verbs

  • Drop the /g/ in the stem, attach /i/, then add –da だ.
    ※ -ta た becomes voiced to compensate for /g/ being voiced. 
Basic Form Conjugation Process Plain Past Tense w/ –ta た
Oyogu 泳ぐ (to swim) Oyog– /i/ → Oyogi– → Oyoi Oyoida 泳いだ (swam)

■S-Type Godan Verbs

  • When the stem ends in /s/, the consonant does not drop when –ta た is attached. So, you attach –ta た normally in the same way you do –masu ます. 
Basic Form Conjugation Process Plain Past Tense w/ -ta た
Hanasu 話す Hanas– /i/ → Hanashi–  Hanashita 話した (spoke)

■N/B/M-Type Godan Verbs

  • Change the /n/, /b/, or /m/ in the stem to [n], delete the /i/ in the base, then add –da だ.
    ※-ta た becomes voiced to compensate for /g/ being voiced.
Basic Form Conjugation Process Plain Past Tense w/ –ta た
Shinu 死ぬShin– + /i/ → Shini + – /ta/ → [da]  Shinda 死んだ (died)
Erabu 選ぶErab– + /i/ → Erani + -/ta/ → [da]  Eranda 選ぶ (chose)
Yomu 読む Yom– + /i/ → Yoni + -/ta/ → [da] Yonda 読んだ (read)

■T/R/W-Type Godan Verbs

  • Change the /t/, /r/, or /w/ in the stem to a double t, delete the /i/ in the base, then add –ta た.
Basic Form Conjugation Process Plain Past Tense w/ –ta た
Katsu 勝つ Kat– /i/ → Kachi– → Kat  Katta 勝った
 Kawaru 変わるKawar– /i/ → Kawari– → KawatKawatta 変わった
Kau 買う Kaw– /i/ → Kai– → Kat  Katta 買った

To familiarize yourself with these conjugation rules, we will look at new example verbs conjugated into the plain past tense. The only familiar verb in the chart will be shinu 死ぬ (to die) out of necessity. 

Sub-Type Basic Form  Plain Past Tense w/ –ta た
K-Type  Kiku 聞く (to listen/hear)  Kiita 聞いた (listened/heard)
G-TypeIsogu 急ぐ (to hurry)  Isoida 急いだ (hurried)
S-Type  Kasu 貸す (to lend)  Kashita 貸した (lent)
T-Type  Matsu 待つ (to wait)  Matta 待った (waited)
 N-Type  Shinu 死ぬ (to die)  Shinda 死んだ (died)
 B-Type Asobu 遊ぶ (to play)  Asonda 遊んだ (played)
M-Type Yasumu 休む (to rest)  Yasunda 休んだ (rested)
R-Type Uru 売る (to sell)  Utta 売った (sold)
W-Type Utau 歌う (to sing)  Utatta 歌った (sang)
K-Type※Iku 行く (to go)  Itta 行った (went)
W-Type※ Iu (Yū) 言う (to say)  Itta/Yutta 言った (said)

※ The verb iku 行く is irregular and conjugates like a T/R/W-type Godan verb.  Rather than being iita 行いた, it conjugates as itta 行った in the past tense. 
※ The verb iu 言う is irregular not because of how –ta た combines with it, but because the initial mora be pronounced as /yu/ instead of /i/ in this conjugation, especially in casual speech. 

10. アニソンを歌った。
Anison wo utatta.
I sang an anime song.

11. 悪口を言った人
Warukuchi wo itta/yutta hito
Person who said slander 

12. バターを売った。
Batā wo utta.
I sold butter. 

13. お金を貸した。
Okane wo kashita.
I lent money.

14. その黄色い鳥が死んだ。
Sono kiiroi tori ga shinda. 
That yellow bird died.

The Polite Past Form w/ –mashita ました

Conjugating Godan verbs into the past tense in polite speech is far easier than in plain speech because –masu ます doesn’t conjugate irregularly with Godan verbs. Adding –ta た to it does not break any patterns you’ve learned thus far: you add –mashita ました to the continuative form of a Godan verb as is. 

Sub-Type Basic Form Plain Tense w/ –mashita ました
K-Type Kaku 書く
(to write)
Kakimashita 書きました
G-Type Kagu 嗅ぐ
(to smell)
  Kagimashita 嗅ぎました
S-Type  Naosu 直す
(to fix)
  Naoshimashita 直しました
T-Type Utsu 打つ
(to hit/type)
  Uchimashita 打ちました 
N-Type Shinu 死ぬ
(to die)
  Shinimashita 死にました (died)
B-Type  Hakobu 運ぶ
(to transport)
  Hakobimashita 運びました (transported)
M-Type  Susumu 進む
(to advance) (intr.)
 Susumimashita 進みました
(advanced) (intr.)
R-Type  Kо̄ru 凍る
(to freeze) (intr.)
   Kо̄rimashita 凍りました
(froze) (intr.)
W-Type  Omou 思う
(to think)
  Omoimashita 思いました
K-Type*  Iku 行く
(to go)
  Ikimashita 行きました
W-Type*Iu (Yū) 言う
(to say)
  Iimashita 言いました

18. 好きな香りを嗅ぎました。
Suki na kaori wo kagimashita.
I smelled a scent that I like.

19. タイプミスを直しました。
Taipumisu wo naoshimashita.
I fixed the typo(s).

20. 祖母は去年死にました。
Sobo wa kyonen shinimashita.
My grandmother died last year.

21. 竹を運びました。

Take wo hakobimashita.
I carried/transported bamboo.

22. 同じことを思いました。
Onaji koto wo omoimashita.
I thought the same thing.

The Plain Negative Form w/ –nai ない

To create the negative form in plain speech with Godan verbs, you have to first create the irrealis form (未然形) by following the stem with the vowel /a/. All sub-types’ respective consonant is pronounced when creating this base. Meaning, the “w” ending the stem of W-Type verbs is pronounced. Then, once you have created the irrealis form, all you have to do is add the auxiliary adjective –nai ない. 

Sub-Type Basic Form Irrealis Form Plain Negative w/ –nai ない
K-TypeHataraku 働く
(to work)
 Hataraka Hatarakanai 働かない
(does/will not work)
G-TypeKagu 嗅ぐ
(to smell)
Kaga-  Kaganai 嗅がない
(does/will not smell)
S-Type Naosu 直す
(to fix)
Naosa-  Naosanai 直さない
(does/will not fix)
T-Type  Utsu 撃つ
(to shoot)
Uta-  Utanai 撃たない
(does/will not shoot)
N-Type  Shinu 死ぬ
(to die)
Shina-  Shinanai 死なない
(does/will not die)
B-Type  Sakebu 叫ぶ
(to shout)
Sakeba-  Sakebanai 叫ばない
(does/will not shout)
M-Type Kamu 噛む
(to bite)
Kama-  Kamanai 噛まない
(does/will not bite)
R-Type   Kaeru 帰る
(to go home)
Kaera- Kaeranai 帰らない
(does/will not go home)
W-Type  Omou 思う
(to think)
Omowa-  Omowanai 思わない
(does/will not think)
K-Type*  Iku 行く
(to go)
Ika-  Ikanai 行かない
(does/will not go)
W-Type*Iu (Yū) 言う
(to say)
Iwa-  Iwanai 言わない
(does/will not say)

Irregularity Note: Though not shown in the chart above, there is one R-Type Godan verb that is irregular with the auxiliary adjective ~nai ない: the verb aru ある, which means “there is…” in many contexts but most commonly with inanimate entities. What is irregular about these two is that they are already antonyms of each other, so nai ない simply replaces aru ある altogether when wishing to state “there is not…” In other words, aranai あらない does not exist, nor do any derivative forms such as the negative past or polite versions of these respectively. 

23. 今夜は帰らない。
Kon’ya wa kaeranai.
I won’t go home tonight. 

24. うちの猫は、人には絶対に噛まない。
Uchi no neko wa, hito ni wa zettai-ni kamanai.
My cat doesn’t ever bite people. 

25. 何も言わない。
Nani mo iwanai.
I won’t say anything.26. 風邪薬は風邪を治さない。
Kazegusuri wa kaze wo naosanai.
Cold medicine won’t cure a cold.

The Polite Negative Forms (-masen ません or –nai-desu ないです) 

Godan verbs possess the same two polite negative form constructions. The only difference is how their bases look. With that, the methods are summarized as follows:

  • Method 1: Use the continuative form (連体形) ending in /i/ and attach the auxiliary verb –masu ます. Then, conjugate this ending into its irrealis form (未然形) mase– ませ to attach the negative auxiliary verb –n ん. Think /-imasen/. 
  • Method 2: Once you conjugate the verb into its irrealis form (未然形) ending in /a/, attach the auxiliary adjective –nai ない and follow it with the polite marker desu です. Think /anai-desu/. 
Sub-Type Basic Form Polite Negative (Casual)
K-TypeUgoku 動く (to move) (intr.)   Ugokanai-desu 動かないです
 (doesn’t/won’t move) (intr.)
G-TypeOyogu 泳ぐ (to swim)   Oyogonai-desu 泳がないです (doesn’t/won’t swim)
 S-TypeSasu 刺す (to stab)   Sasanai-desu 刺さないです (doesn’t/won’t stab)
T-Type Tatsu 立つ (to stand)   Tatanai-desu 立たないです (doesn’t/won’t stand)
N-TypeShinu 死ぬ (to die)   Shinanai-desu 死なないです (doesn’t/won’t die)
B-TypeManabu 学ぶ (to learn)   Manabanai-desu 学ばないです (doesn’t/won’t learn)
M-TypeNomu 飲む (to drink)   Nomanai-desu 飲まないです (doesn’t/won’t drink)
R-TypeInoru 祈る (to pray)   Inoranai-desu 祈らないです (doesn’t/won’t pray)
W-TypeSū 吸う (to smoke)   Suwanai-desu 座らないです (doesn’t/won’t smoke)
K-Type*Iku 行く (to go)  Ikanai-desu 行かないです (doesn’t/won’t go)
W-Type*   Iu (Yū) 言う (to say)  Iwanai-desu 言わないです (doesn’t/won’t say)
Sub-TypeBasic Form Polite Negative (Politer)
K-Type  Kaku 書く (to write)Kakimasen 書きません (doesn’t/won’t write)
G-Type  Oyogu 泳ぐ (to swim)  Oyogimasen 泳ぎません (doesn’t/won’t swim)
S-Type  Shimesu 示す (to show)  Shimeshimasen 示しません(doesn’t/won’t die)
T-TypeKatsu 勝つ (to win)  Kachimasen 勝ちません (doesn’t/won’t win)
N-Type Shinu 死ぬ(to die)  Shinimasen 死にません (doesn’t/won’t die)
B-TypeYorokobu 喜ぶ (to rejoice)  Yorokobimasen 喜びません (doesn’t/won’t rejoice)
M-Type  Tatamu 畳む (to fold)  Tatamimasen 畳みません (doesn’t/won’t fold)
R-Type  Horu 掘る (to dig)  Horimasen 掘りません (doesn’t/won’t dig)
W-Type  Narau 習う (to review)  Naraimasen 習いません (doesn’t/won’t review)
K-Type*Iku 行く (to go)  Ikimasen 行きません (doesn’t/won’t go)
W-Type*    Iu (Yū) 言う (to say)  Iimasen 言いません (doesn’t/won’t say)

31. 夫がまったく働きません。
Otto ga mattaku hatarakimasen. 
My husband won’t work at all.

32. 僕は死にません! (Male speech)
Boku wa shinimasen!
I won’t die!

34. 私はまだ帰りません。
Watashi wa mada kaerimasen.
I’m not going home yet.

The Plain Negative Past Form (-nakatta なかった)

To conjugate a Godan verb into its negative past form, first conjugate the verb into its irrealis form (未然形) ending in the vowel /a/ and attach –nakatta なかった. This is a combination of the negative auxiliary adjective –nai ない and the past tense auxiliary verb –ta た. 

Sub-Type Basic FormPlain Negative Past (Casual)
K-Type  Kiku 聞く (to hear/listen)  Kikanakatta 聞かなかった
(didn’t hear/listen)
G-Type  Kagu 嗅ぐ (to smell)  Kaganakatta 嗅がなかった
(didn’t smell)
S-Type  Hanasu 離す (to separate)  Hanasanakatta 離さなかった
(didn’t separate)
T-Type Tatsu 立つ (to stand) Tatanakatta 立たなかった
(didn’t stand)
N-Type  Shinu 死ぬ (to die)  Shinanakatta 死ななかった
(didn’t die)
B-Type  Narabu 並ぶ (to line up) (intr.)  Narabanakatta 並ばなかった
(didn’t line up)
M-TypeKamu 噛む (to bite)  Kamanakatta 噛まなかった
(didn’t bite)
R-Type  Kiru 切る (to cut)  Kiranakatta 切らなかった
(didn’t cut)
W-Type  Tatakau 戦う (to fight)  Tatakawanakatta 戦わなかった
(didn’t fight)
K-Type*  Iku 行く (to go)  Ikanakatta 行かなかった 
(didn’t go)
W-Type*   Iu (Yū) 言う (to say)  Iwanakatta 言わなかった 
(didn’t say)

37. ワニが動かなかった。
Wani ga ugokanakatta.
The crocodile didn’t move.

38. とどめを刺さなかった。
Todome wo sasanakatta.
I didn’t put an end to it.

39. ハリー・ポッターは死ななかった。
Harii Potta wa shinanakatta.
Harry Potter didn’t die.

40. 爪を噛まなかった。

Tsume wo kamanakatta.
I didn’t bite my nails.

The Polite Negative Past Forms (-masen-deshita or –nakatta desu)

As there is nothing irregular with how the polite marker auxiliary –masu ます behaves with Godan verbs, you are already familiar with the principles behind how the polite negative forms are created with them. 

  • Method 1: First conjugate the verb into its continuative form (連用形), which ends in /i/ for Godan verbs. Then, conjugate –masu ます into its irrealis form (-masu ます →  mase– ませ) to add the negative auxiliary verb –n んLastly, add –deshita でした directly to –masen ません. 
  • Method 2: Treating the auxiliary adjective –nai ない as any other adjectival phrase, –nai ない becomes conjugated into its own continuative form (nakari– なかり) and is followed by –ta た to produce –nakatta なかった. Then, –desu です is attached to produce –nakatta-desu なかったです.

    Method 1: –masendeshita ませんでした (Proper Polite Form)
Sub-Type Basic Form Polite Negative Past Form (Casual)
K-TypeTodoku 届く
 (To arrive) (intr.)
Todokanakatta-desu 届かなかったです (didn’t arrive) (intr.)
G-Type  Oyogu 泳ぐ
 (to swim)
  Oyogonakatta-desu 泳がかなったです (didn’t swim)
S-Type Korosu 殺す
(To kill)
  Korosanakatta-desu 殺さなかったです (didn’t kill)
T-Type Tatsu 立つ
 (to stand)
  Tatanakatta-desu 立たなかったです
 (didn’t stand)
N-Type  Shinu 死ぬ
 (to die)
  Shinanakatta-desu 死ななかったです
 (didn’t die)
B-Type  Yobu 呼ぶ
(to call)
  Yobanakatta-desu 呼ばなかったです
(didn’t call)
M-Type  Yomu 読む
(to read)
  Yomanakatta-desu 読まなかったです
 (didn’t read)
R-Type  Keru 蹴る
 (to kick)
  Keranakatta-desu 蹴らなかったです
 (didn’t kick)
W-Type  Au 会う
 (to meet)
  Awanakatta-desu 会わなかったです
(didn’t meet)
K-Type* Iku 行く
(to go)
  Ikanakatta-desu 行かなかったです
(didn’t go)
W-Type*   Iu (Yū) 言う
 (to say)
  Iwanakatta-desu 言わなかったです
 (didn’t say)

Method 2: –nakatta-desu なかったです (Casual Polite Form)

Sub-Type Basic Form Polite Negative-Past (Politer)
K-Type Kaku 描く (to draw)  Kakimasen-deshita 描きませんでした
(didn’t draw)
G-TypeOyogu 泳ぐ (to swim)  Oyogimasen-deshita 泳ぎませんでした
 (didn’t swim)
S-TypeHanasu 話す (to talk/speak)Hanashimasen-deshita 話しませんでした
(didn’t talk/speak)
T-Type Matsu 待つ (to wait)Machimasen-deshita 待ちませんでした
(didn’t wait)
N-TypeShinu 死ぬ (to die)Shinimasen-deshita 死にませんでした(didn’t die)
B-TypeYobu 呼ぶ (to call)Yobimasen-deshita 呼びませんでした(didn’t call)
M-Type Yomu 読む (to read)  Yomimasen-deshita 読みませんでした(didn’t read)
R-Type Sawaru 触る (to touch)  Sawarimasen-deshita 触りませんでした
 (didn’t touch)
W-Type Warau 笑う (to laugh)  Waraimasen-deshita 笑いませんでした
 (didn’t laugh)
K-Type*  Iku 行く (to go)  Ikimasen-deshita 行きませんでした
(didn’t go)
W-Type*   Iu (Yū) 言う (to say)  Iimasen-deshita 言いませんでした
(didn’t say)

41. 薬を飲みませんでした。
Kusuri wo nomimasendeshita.
I didn’t take (the) medicine. 

42. 商品が届きませんでした。
Shōhin ga todokimasendeshita.
The item didn’t arrive.

43. カニは死にませんでした。
Kani wa shinimasendeshita.
The crab didn’t die.

44. タバコを吸いませんでした。
Tabako wo suimasendeshita.
I didn’t smoke.  

45. 彼女は本を読なかったです。
Kanojo wa hon wo yomanakatta desu.

She didn’t read a/the book.

46. 多分死なかったです。
Tabun shinanakatta desu.

(He/she) probably didn’t die.

47. あまり話さなかったです。 
Amari hanasanakatta desu.   
I didn’t talk/speak much.