Irregular and Unusual Verbs – Japanese Verb Exceptions

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Verbs in Japanese are much simpler than in English. Unfortunately not all Japanese language verbs are willing to follow rules, making it exceptions of a group or irregular verbs.

Japanese verbs are divided into 3 classes called godan, ichidan and the irregular verbs. The verbs in group 1 called godan [五段] ending in [う] the verbs of group 2 called ichidan [一段] ends in [る] in their dictionary form.

The first group was named godan because there are five different ways to conjugate according to its ending. Already the verbs of ichidan only have one way of conjugating. Below we will give an example of these rules using the past conjugation:

  • Godan verbs ending in [~う|~つ|~る] become [~った];
  • Godan verbs ending in [~ぬ|~む|~ぶ] become [~んだ];
  • Godan verbs ending in [~す] become [~した];
  • Godan verbs ending in [~く] become [~いた];
  • Godan verbs ending in [~ぐ] become [~いだ];
  • Ichidan verbs ending in [~る] become [~た];

The third group are the irregular verbs. These verbs do not follow the rules presented above, remembering that there are also some verbs godan and ichidan that do not follow the rules of the list above, these verbs are called exceptions or unusual.

Irregular and unusual verbs – Japanese verb exceptions

Irregular Verbs in the Japanese Language

Most people say that the Japanese language has only 2 irregular verbs which is suru [する] and kiru [来る]. Is this really true? Are there other irregular verbs in the Japanese language? In reality what is an irregular verb?

Irregular verbs are very flexible verbs with respect to the traditional rules of verbs in the Japanese language. Irregular verbs follow their own rules. We mentioned that there are regular verbs with exceptions, but irregular verbs are on a different level.

In the case of suru [する], its conjugation is totally irregular with any verb of godan or ichidan. See below:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
 Dictionary するsuru 
 Formalします shimasu 
 Informal Past したshita 
 Formal Past しましたshishite 
 Negative Informal しないshinai 
 Negative Formal しませんshimasen 
 Informal Negative Past しなかったshinakatta 
 Formal Past Negative しませんでしたshimasendeshita 
 Form – TE – て してshite 
 Conditional  すればsureba 
 Volitional しようshiyou 
 Passive されるsareru
 Causative させるsaseru 
 Potential できるdekiru 
 Imperative しろshiro 

The same thing happens with verb kuru [来る]:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
 Dictionary来るkuru
 Formal来ますkimasu
 Informal Past来たkita
 Formal Past来ましたkimashita
 Negative Informal来ないkonai
 Negative Formal来ませんkimasen
 Informal Negative Past来なかったkonakatta
 Formal Past Negative来ませんでしたkimasen deshita
 Form – TE – て来てkite
 Conditional 来ればkureba
 Volitional来ようkoyou
 Passive来られるkorareru
 Causative来させるkosaseru
 Potential来られるkorareru
 Imperative来いkoi

To see other irregularities and information about suru verbs just read the articles listed below:

unusual verbs and exceptions in the Japanese language

One of the first exceptions that a Japanese student notices is in the verb gowhich is pronounced iku [行く]. Because it is a verb godan ending in [く], following the rules it should be conjugated as iita [行た], but since it doesn't make much sense to have two equal vowels in a row, the right thing is to conjugate it as itta [行った] which is practically the same sound as two vowels in a row together.

The verb aru [ある] has the negative form as nai [ない] which is very irregular.

Imperative verbs often appear to have unusual and irregular forms, such as the verb kureru [暮れる] which in the imperative form simply becomes kure [暮れ].

Honorific verbs can be regarded as having their own pattern, or breaking the rules as in the case of kudasaru [下さる] which becomes kudasai [下さい]. Other uncommon honorific verbs with several exceptions are: [仰る], [御座る] and [いらっしゃる].

In this article we saw some information about irregular verbs and also unusual verbs godan and ichidan with exceptions. We do not talk in detail about each verb or its meaning, but we recommend researching each one individually using a tool such as jisho.

Do you know other verbs that don't follow the rules in the Japanese language? Hope you enjoyed the article! If you liked it share and leave your comments.

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