Irregular and unusual verbs - Exceptions of verbs in Japanese

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

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

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

  • 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 [~ く] become [~ いた];
  • 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.

Verbos irregulares e incomuns – exceções dos verbos no japonês

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 any other irregular verbs in the Japanese language? In reality what is an irregular verb?

Irregular verbs are very flexible verbs compared to traditional Japanese verb rules. Irregular verbs follow their own rules. We mentioned that there are regular verbs with exceptions, but irregular verbs are at a different level.

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

 Dictionary するsuru 
 Formalします shimasu 
 Informal Past したshita 
 Formal Past しましたshimashita 
 Informal Negative しないshinai 
 Formal Negative しませんshimasen 
 Informal Past Negative しなかったshinakatta 
 Formal Negative Past 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]:

 Dictionary来るkuru
 Formal来ますkimasu
 Informal Past来たkita
 Formal Past来ましたkimashita
 Informal Negative来ないkonai
 Formal Negative来ませんkimasen
 Informal Past Negative来なかったkonakatta
 Formal Negative Past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 the 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 realizes is in the verb gothat is pronounced iku [行く]. Because it is a verb godan ending in [く], following the rules should be conjugated as iita [行た], but as it does not make much sense to have two equal vowels in a row, it is right to conjugate 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 seem to have unusual and irregular forms, such as the verb kureru [暮れる] which in the imperative form simply becomes kure [暮れ].

Honorary verbs can be considered as having their own standard, or breaking the rules as in the case of kudasaru [下さる] that becomes kudasai [下さい]. Other unusual honorary 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 godan and ichidan verbs with exceptions. We do not speak 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 do not follow the rules in the Japanese language? I hope you enjoyed the article! If you liked, share and leave your comments.