More Verbs, Japanese
Grammar and the Particle 'ni'

Welcome to Lesson 10. Here we'll look at more Japanese grammar and the remaining 2 verb classes with a heavy focus on the particle "ni."

There's a short Japanese grammar test at the end of this lesson. Check it out!

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In lesson 7, we looked at "eru" and "iru" ending verbs. They were easy to conjugate. This next verb class is a bit more challenging. So hang on to your hat. We'll call this verb class "u" ending verbs.

Again (cuz' it bears repeatin',) if you spend your precious time on any aspect of Japanese grammar, it should be memorizing the stem of the verb. Again all conjugations are from the stem. It's the fastest way to build decent fluency and master basic Japanese grammar. So study the stem first and then the conjugations from the stem!

Looking at the chart below, notice that in the dictionary form, the end of the verb is highlighted in blue. This represents the different sub-classes of this verb. There are (from top to bottom): 5 classes. -u, -tsu, -ru ending. Then -su ending. Then -gu ending verbs. Then -nu, -bu, -mu ending. Then -ku ending. And finally the irregulars of "suru" and "kuru" that follow different conjugations.

Look at the first verb in the chart below. Did you notice that the stem, (in red), is in the polite present tense (form on the far right)? The stem of "kai" is in "kaimasu." So by yanking off the "masu" you can get to the stem of "kaimasu" or "kai."

Remember the conjunctive form? It's the form that connects to other verbs and to kudasai, which is a core element in basic Japanese grammar. It appears in structures like "tabetekaeru" or come home having eaten and in kudasai patterns like: Please do X. It also appears in common Japanese grammar phrases like "chotto matte ne" or won't you wait a minute (for me) etc. The - te form isn't past or present tense. What it connects to determines the tense. It's an incredibly useful form and an aspect of Japanese grammar that is well worth mastering. Let' s start by looking at the chart below...

Dictionary Form Conjunctive
i.e connects to  other verbs etc.
Present Tense
i.e eat
U Ending Verbs
buy kai kau katte kaimasu
meet ai au atte aimasu
say ii iu itte iimasu
Tsu Ending Verbs
wait machi matsu matte machimasu
hold mochi motsu motte mochimasu
Ru Ending Verbs
ride nori noru notte norimasu
stop tomari tomaru tomatte tomarimasu
exist / there is ari aru atte arimasu
go back to modori modoru modotte modorimasu
become nari naru natte narimasu
enter hairi hairu haitte haririmasu
Su Ending Verbs
hand  over watashi watasu watashite watashimasu
speak hanashi hanasu hanashite hanashimasu
Gu Ending Verbs
hurry isogi isogu isoide isogimasu
take  off nugi nugu nuide nugimasu
swim oyogi oyogu oyoide oyogimasu
Mu Ending Verbs
drink nomi nomu nonde nomimasu
live sumi sumu sunde sumimasu
ask tanomi tanomu tanonde tanomimasu
Nu Ending Verb
die shini shinu shinde shinimasu
Bu Ending Verbs
call yobi yobu yonde yobimasu
choose erabi erabu erande erabimasu
Ku Ending Verbs
listen  to kiki kiku kiite kikimasu
go iki iku itte ikimasu
put oki oku oite okimasu
Irregular Verbs
do shi suru shite shimasu
come ki kuru kite kimasu

Japanese Grammar and "U" Ending Verb Conjugations

Basically, to make the conjunctive form for -U, -Tsu and -Ru ending verbs, remove the final "u" and add "tte." So for the first verb listed as "kau," it becomes "ka" then add "tte."So you got "katte." For "su" ending verbs remove the "su" and add "shite." For "gu" ending verbs, remove the "gu" and add "ide." For "mu" "nu" and "bu," remove the ending and add "nde." For "ku" ending verbs, remove the "ku" and add "ite."

The irregular verbs simply have to be memorized as shown in the chart. All in all, there are less irregulars in Japanese grammar than English. Hundreds of irregular verbs in English, only 2 in Japanese.

OK. We have the verbs in place but how do you use 'em?

Let's look at example sentences and some Japanese grammar...

Let's begin by looking at the verb "aru" or "arimasu" and "iru" or "imasu." These verb are used with nouns and the paricle "ni." It occurs as X (object or person) + ni + arimasu / imasu. To mean something or someone is located in X.

Look at These Japanese Grammar Examples...

  • "Osaka ni arimasu" = It's in Osaka.
  • "Reizoko ni arimasu" = It's on the refrigerator.
  • "kono heya ni arimasu ka?" = Is it inside this room?
  • "Muko ni arimasu ka?" = Is it over there?
  • "kono eki ni panya san ga arimasu" = There's a bakery in this train station.
  • 'Bill san wa doko ni imasu ka? = Where is Bill?
  • 'Kare (ga) izakaiya ni imasu yo = He's in the bar.

It's important to note two things. One, as you probably noticed is the particle "ni" is translated as "in," "on," "inside" and has no English preposition equivelent in the 3rd example. So it's important not to memorize "ni" as equaling some English equivalent like "on." So remember that the conceptual meaning of Noun + ni + aru meaning static location and not some translation of it.

Secondly "aru" is only used with inanimate objects. So you can't use "aru" to say: "Keiko san ga muko ni arimasu." Meaning Keiko is overthere. With people and animate objects instead of "arimasu" you use "imasu," (the polite form) or "iru" the direct or dictionary form. This aspect of Japanese grammar is a bit difficult for some to master because separate forms for existence verbs don't exist in English.

So the correct form is "Keiko san ga muko ni imasu."

Ni Plus Places and Motion Verbs

There are many uses for "ni." One is to show motion. When you use verbs like: go, come & return, you should use the following pattern: Object/person + ni + motion verbs.

So check these out...

  • "Kyoto ni ikimasu" = I will go to Kyoto.
  • "Doko ni ikimasu ka?" = Where will (you) go?
  • "Koko ni modotte kudasai" = Please come back.
  • here.
  • "Muko ni hashitte ne" = Won't you run over there?
  • "Patte ni kimasu ka?" = Will you come to the party?
  • "Ofuro ni hairu" = I'll take a bath. (enter the bath.)
  • "Koko ni kite kudasai" = Please come here."
  • "Fumiko chan ni watashimasu" = (I'll) hand it to Fumiko.
  • "Doko ni oku?" = Where (shall I put (it)?
  • "kono jisho ni kakimsu" = (I'll) write it in this dictionary.

More Japanese Grammar with 'ni'

"Ni" also lines up with other common actions verbs. Although the translation will often include "to," again be careful not to think in terms of what some Japanese phrase means in English.

Take a Look at These...

  • "Sensei ni kiku" = Ask / listen to the teacher.
  • "Kareshi ni kaku" = Write a letter to (my) boyfriend.
  • "Tomodachi ni hanshite" = Speak to a friend.
  • "Seito ni oshiete" = Teach (it) to (your) students.
  • "Kimura san ni tanonde" = Ask Mr. Kimura for it.
  • "Inuyama ni sundeiru" = (I) live in Inuyama.

In Lesson 7 , we studied days of the week and the particle ni. One nice thing about some parts of Japanese grammar is how uniform it is. Just like when you say days of the week, "ni" follows the day, (getsuyobi ni). In seasons and months, "ni" is also last. "Ni" joins other measures of time like years, minutes, hours, days etc., which we'll study in other lessons.

"Natsu ni" = In summer
"Haru ni" = In spring
"Aki ni" = In fall
"Fuyu ni" = In winter

Months of the Year

If you teach English in Japan, you know how difficult it is to teach small children months of the year. They roll their eyes at how needlessly complex English is. Fortunately for you, this part of Japanese grammar is much simpler than its English equivalent. If you can count to 12 you can say the months.

"ichi gatsu ni" = In January
"ni gatsu ni" = In February
"san gatsu ni" = In March
"shi gatsu ni" = In April
"go gatsu ni" = In May
"roku gatsu ni" = In June
"shichi gatsu ni" = In July
"hachi gatsu ni" = In August
"Ku gatsu ni" = In September
"ju gatsu ni" = In October
"juichi gatsu ni" = In November
"ju ni gatsu ni" = In December

There are more uses of "ni" particularly manner patterns that we'll cover in future Japanese grammar lessons...

Japanese Grammar Quiz: Answer the Questions and Translate the Following:

1. I will go to Sapporo. (polite style)
2. Please come back here.
3. She is in Osaka. (dictionary form)
4. It is in the bakery.(polite form)
5. He is in the bath. (dictionary form)
6. In spring
7. Please listen to the teacher.
8. Is it in this train station?(polite form)
9. In November.
10. In March.
11. What is the stem of ‘hand over’?
12. What is the conjunctive form of ‘do’?
13. What is the dictionary form of ‘wait’?
14. Is the conjunctive form itself present or past?
15. Does ‘ni’ come before seasons or after in a sentence?

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