The Other Verbs
While they may initially seem complicated, Godan verbs are the easiest verbs to identify. Just follow this simple rule:
If it is not a Ichidan verb, it's a Godan verb.
It's that easy. Just remember that all Ichidan Verbs end with either IRU or ERU if written in romaji and everything else is Godan (with only a small handful of exceptions). This is important due to the conjugation differences between the two. Unfortunately, Godan verbs are slightly harder to conjugate at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will feel much more natural.
This is because Godan verbs conjugate along simple phonological rules, which make sense once you understand the conjugation tables.
This would be a good time, however, to talk about the purpose behind conjugation.
Just like how particles function as word and sentence modifiers, verbs take on different forms to convey different meanings. A good example of this in English would be like saying, “I am buying groceries,” and, “I need to buy groceries.” These are, at the core, the same verbs, but are conjugated to mean different things. Japanese verbs work the same way – modifying the conjugation of a verb changes the meaning. So, it's very important to learn how to properly modify verbs to convey the meaning you desire to express.
Luckily, Japanese is one of the easiest languages to conjugate. There are only 7 'bases' that are used to connect to other parts of speech. We will go into this more tomorrow, so good luck with the vocabulary words.
The Verb Stem
When Japanese verbs are written, they are often written with both Kanji and Hiragana characters.
たべる = 食べる
This is because the end of a word (the part written in Hiragana) changes when conjugated. This makes learning Japanese without a knowledge of Kanji somewhat tricky. Which is why we will refer to both the verb and the verb stem, which is the part that never changes.