sci.lang.japan FAQ / 8. Slang and colloquialisms

8.2. What are the chau, cha verb endings?

These are contractions of the regular verb endings made with te shimau or te wa. For example tabete shimau, meaning "eat up", becomes tabechau, with the auxiliary verb shimau contracted into the te form of taberu. (For more on the "te" form of the verb ending, see 2.1.6. How does the form work?)

The following table gives some of the most frequent contractions used in everyday Japanese.

"Standard" verb ending Contracted form Examples and notes
-te forms
-te shimau -chau Makete shimatta ("We lost") becomes makechatta or makechimatta
-te shimau -chimau
-de shimau -jimau Shinde shimae! (literally "Go and die!", or "Go to hell!") becomes shinjimae!. See also 8.5. What are some Japanese insults and swear-words?
-te iru -teru Shitte iru ("I know") becomes shitteru}.
-te oku -toku Tamete oku ("save up") becomes tametoku.
-te wa -cha Mane shite wa ikenai ("don't copy that") becomes mane shicha ikenai.
-de wa -ja Nonde wa ikenai ("don't drink") becomes nonja ikenai
-te wa shinai -te ya shinai This is an emphatic negative.
-te ageru -tageru Yatte ageru yo ("I'll do it for you") becomes yattageru yo
Other verb forms
-ru no -nno Nani o yatteiruno ("What are you doing?") becomes nani wo yattenno?
-ranai -nnai Shiranai `I don't know' becomes shinnai.
-nakereba -nakya
-nakute wa -nakucha Tabenakute wa ikenai ("You must eat") becomes tabenakucha ikenai. Sometimes the ikenai is dropped too.
Negative nai n Kuwanai ("I won't eat it") becomes kuwan. This is more emphatic than the form with "nai".
De wa nai ka or ja nai ka jan Ii ja nai ka becomes ii jan.

The ending nai is often reduced to just n. De wa nai ka or ja nai ka may be contracted into jan, so, for example ii ja nai ka may become ii jan. This "n" ending is also used in phrases like shiranpuri, "pretending not to notice".

Constructions using to and the verb iu, "to say", are often contracted. For example, to iu may be contracted to tte, and to ieba may be contracted into tteba. Similarly, ttara is a contraction of to ittara, meaning "if I/you say".

The words kore, sore, and are are also often contracted in a similar way, as is de mo.

Non-colloquial Colloquial
kore wa korya
sore wa sorya
are wa arya
de mo datte

See also 8.6. What are and ?


  1. Drohan, Francis G., A handbook of Japanese Usage


This list was partly taken from a post by John Reeves.

sci.lang.japan FAQ / 8. Slang and colloquialisms

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