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 How does the form work?)

These are some of the most frequent contractions used in everyday Japanese.

"Standard" verb ending Contracted form Examples and notes
-te forms
-te shimau
Makete shimatta (負けてしまった) ("We lost") becomes makechatta (負けちゃった) or makechimatta (負けちまった)
-te shimau
-de shimau
Shinde shimae! (死んでしまえ) (literally "Go and die!", or "Go to hell!") becomes shinjimae! (死んじまえ). (See also What are some Japanese insults and swear-words?)
-te iru
Shitte iru (知っている) ("I know") becomes shitteru} (しっる).
-te oku
Tamete oku (貯めておく) ("save up") becomes tametoku (貯めく).
-te wa
Mane shite wa ikenai (真似してはいけない) ("don't copy that") becomes Mane shicha ikenai (真似しちゃいけない).
-de wa
Nonde wa ikenai (飲んではいけない) ("don't drink") becomes nonja ikenai (飲んじゃいけない)
-te wa shinai
-te ya shinai
This is an emphatic negative.
-te ageru
Yatte ageru yo (やってあげるよ) ("I'll do it for you") becomes yattageru yo (やっげるよ).
Other verb forms
-ru no
Nani o yatte iru no (何をやっているの) ("What are you doing?") becomes nani wo yattenno? (何をやっての)
Shiranai (知らない) 'I don't know' becomes shinnai (知ない).
-nakute wa
Tabenakute wa ikenai (食べなくてはいけない) ("You must eat") becomes tabenakucha ikenai (食べなくちゃいけない). Sometimes the ikenai is dropped too.
Negative -nai
Kuwanai (喰わない) ("I won't eat it") becomes kuwan (喰わ). This is more emphatic than the form with "nai".
De wa nai ka
Ii ja nai ka (いいじゃないか) becomes ii jan (いいじゃん).
Ja nai ka
じゃないか 1
For example, iranai (要らない) becomes iranee (要らねー). See also What are and ?

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 (いいじゃないか) may become ii jan (いいじゃん). This "n" ending is also used in phrases like shiranpuri (知らんぷり), "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 (といえば) may be contracted into tteba (ってば). 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
sore wa
are wa
de mo

See also What are and ?


  1. Drohan, Francis G., A handbook of Japanese Usage
  2. McClain, Yoko Matsuoka, Handbook of Modern Japanese Grammar, p. 231 "Extremely Colloquial Expressions".


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

If you have questions, corrections, or comments, please contact Ben Bullock or use the discussion forum / Privacy

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