Day Nine: Verb Bases

The First Five Bases


Let’s start on conjugation. There are 7 verb bases, each of which adjust the ending of two types of verbs, Ichidan and Godan verbs. While they conjugate differently, they each change depending on which base they are in. The 7 bases are like the first part of an equation. By changing the bases you can change the meanings of any of the verbs you use. While we won’t go into the intrinsic verb meanings today, we will go into the verb form changes for both Ichidan and Godan verbs. 


Each one of these bases correlates to a vowel: 

Base 1: a/あ

Base 2: i/い

Base 3: u/う

Base 4: e/え

Base 5: ou *long sound おう


Godan Verbs: nomu – to drink

Nomu in Base 1 = noma のま

Nomu in Base 2 = nomi のみ

Nomu in Base 3 = nomu のむ

Nomu in Base 4 = nome のめ

Nomu in Base 5 = nomou  のもう


Are you spotting a pattern here? For Godan verbs, simply shift the verb into romaji and then change the last letter of the base verb. 


Ichidan verbs are a little more tricky because they don’t logically follow a standard pattern like the Godan Verbs.


Ichidan verbs: taberu – to eat

Taberu in Base 1 = tabe たべ

Taberu in Base 2 = tabe たべ

Taberu in Base 3 = taberu たべる

Taberu in Base 4 = tabero たべろ

Taberu in Base 5 = tabeyou たべよう


With Ichidan verbs base 1 & 2 are the same, simply cut off the last る. But base 4 and 5, you add ろ & よう respectively. 




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Daily Vocabulary

In some of the classes I have taught, memorizing a simple rhyme has helped a lot of students learn how to conjugate an Ichidan verb. First, think of a really silly looking Slim Shady and think of him rapping “What, What Rules yo!” and then imagine that he gets his braces stuck on his lip and says “Ru Ro” instead of rules (What, What Ru Ro You!). By memorizing this you can memorize what the bases are. 


What – cut the ru

What – cut the ru

Ending is ru

Ending is ro

Ending is you 


This may seem silly, but silly and odd things stick out in your mind better than unimaginative grammar principles. 


  1. to fly
  2. to throw
  3. to hit
  4. to point
  5. to learn (a skill) 
  6. to arrive
  7. to meet
  8. to open
  9. to close
  10. to build
  11. to make
  12. to need
  13. to learn (a topic) 
  14. to be born
  15. to throw away
  16. to raise
  17. to drop
  18. to catch
  19. to play
  20. to break


  1. tobu 
  2. nageru
  3. utsu 
  4. sasu 
  5. narau 
  6. tōchaku  
  7. au 
  8. aku 
  9. tojiru 
  10. tateru 
  11. tsukuru
  12. iru (exception verb: actually a Godan)
  13. manabu 
  14. umareru
  15. suteru
  16. ageru
  17. otosu 
  18. tsukameru  
  19. asobu
  20. yasumu 


  1. とぶ 
  2. なげる 
  3. うつ 
  4. さす 
  5. ならう 
  6. とうちゃく
  7. あう
  8. あく 
  9. とじる
  10. たてる 
  11. つくる
  12. いる 
  13. まなぶ 
  14. うまれる
  15. すてる
  16. あげる 
  17. おとす 
  18. つかまえる 
  19. あそぶ
  20. やすむ 

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