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Te form :Important Japanese verb conjugation

Written by Kaori sensei

Te form is one of the most important conjugations of Japanese verbs and is the first barrier for beginner learners. By learning it and being able to operationalize it, you will be able to use many expressions.

Today I will show you how to make te-forms and introduce some important expressions used with Te form at the beginner level.

How to make Te form?

Here are the rules of conjugation. There are two steps. First, group the verbs. Second, the verbs are converted to “Te form” according to the rules for each group.

Step1. Divide verbs into groups

We can divide Japanese verbs into 3 groups. There are several ways to call and devide group verbs. This article explains them in detail. In this section, I will introduce the typical call and some typical verbs.

U verbs / GroupⅠ Ru verbs / Group Ⅱ Irregular verb / Group Ⅲ
のむ : drinkたべる : eatする : do
つくる : makeおきる : get upくる : come
きく : listenねる : sleep
およぐ : swimみる : watch
Japanese verb groups

Step2. Transform into Te form

Here they are presented in a simple order. Let’s look at Group II (or Ru verbs), III (Irregular verbs), and finally Group I (or U-verbs).

This section explains how to convert from the dictionary form to Te masu form. If you would like to know how to convert from the masu-form to the te-form, please download this PDF file.

Ru-verbs / GroupⅡ

たべ  → たべ

“る” remove, add “て”.

Group II is always easy ! Say goodbye to ”Ru” and add “Te”.

Irregular verbs / Group Ⅲ

する → し

Let’s memorize.

くる → き

Let’s memorize.

Irregular verbs / Group III has only two verbs. Memorize it by rote.

U-verbs / Group Ⅰ

The problem is U-verbs / Group I. Depending on the last letter, the usage of the word changes. For example,

 → あって

If the last letter is “う”, then “う” changes to “って”.

There are 6 patterns depending on the letter in front of “Masu”. This is faster if you look at the table, so please see this table. Also,you can download PDF too.

Te form Dictionary form to Te form

※if you want to download the table from Masu form to Te form. Please download from here.

How to practice Te form?

Step1. Proper understanding of rules

Surely,it seems obvious, doesn’t it? However, when different conjugations are introduced in the future, different rules will be used and many new verbs will be introduced. Therefore, it is important to firmly input “this is the rule for Te form”.

Step2. Repeat until you can answer reflexively

In the beginning, You will think…”Which group is this verb?” ,and then if it is Group I, You will remind that “What is the letter before Masu…..?”.It is the right process. However, when it comes to real conversation, there is no time to think about it. You need to respond reflexively, i.e., within 1-2 seconds.

Definitely,if you want to be able to speak, this time lag can be a problem.So, for this kind of conjugate memorization, use flashcards.The recommended app is Anki. If you haven’t used it yet, please also read this article.

If you are the type of person who learns by ear, learning by song will also be effective; a search on Youtube for “Te form song” will bring up many different types of songs. This is a Country Roads song.

Te form expressions for beginners

Especially, Te form is used in a variety of expressions learned in beginner’s grammar. Today we will introduce 4 important ones.

1. ~てください (…, please)

: making a request

もういちど、言(い)ってください。

Please say it agai.

*いいます → いって (Group Ⅰ,U-verbs)

2. ~てもいいです (May I…?)

: asking and giving a permission

写真(しゃしん) を とっても いいですか。

May I take a picture?

*とります → とって ( Group I , U-verbs)

3. ~てはいけません(You must not…)

: stating that something is forbidden

電車(でんしゃ) で、電話(でんわ)しては いけません。

You must not call on the train.

*します → して ( Group Ⅲ , Irregular verbs)

4. ~ています ( I am doing…)

: present continious tense

今(いま)、テレビ を  見(み)ています。

I am watching on TV.

*みます → みて ( Group Ⅱ, Ru-verbs)

More about Japanese verbs

Additionlaly,if you want to master Japanese verbs, this is the book for you. Verbs are very important in any languages. Let’s master them and learn to speak them!

600 Basic Japanese Verbs

Please check other verb conjugation, Dictionary form and Negative form. These are also verb conjugations to be mastered at the beginner level! Check them out.

About the author

Kaori sensei

Japanese online teacher, live in Kamakura, Japan. She is currently working as a language teacher and online Japanese experience host to introduce Japanese culture to the world. She originally worked as an engineer at a Japanese company, so she is familiar with Japanese business culture too.

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