sci.lang.japan FAQ / 2. Grammar / 2.1. Verbs

2.1.1. What Japanese verbs are irregular?

It is quite often claimed that Japanese has only two irregular verbs. However, this is a myth.

The irregular verbs of modern Japanese are

Suru and kuru

Both suru (to do) and kuru (to come) are highly irregular verbs. None of their conjugations follow the standard patterns.

Conjugation of suru and kuru
Plain suru kuru
Negative shinai konai
Past shita kita
Imperative shiro
seyo (formal)
koi
te form shite kite

See a textbook or reference book for full details.

In Japanese grammar, suru is called a sahen (サ変) verb, and kuru is called a kahen (カ変) verb. There are no other sahen or kahen verbs.

Iku

iku (to go) has irregular -te, -ta forms itte, itta: if it were regular, they would be iite, iita.

Honorific verbs

The honorific verbs irassharu, ossharu, kudasaru, gozaru, nasaru (see 13.1. What is Japanese respect language?) all have an irregular stem, where the ru ending conjugates as i rather than ri. For example, the gozaimasu of arigatō gozaimasu, "thank you". If this conjugated as a regular verb it would conjugate as gozarimasu.

Kureru

Kureru has an irregular imperative form kure.

Aru

Aru, "to have", "to be", is mostly regular, but for its negative nai is used, rather than aranai.

iu

Iu is irregular in its pronunciation, varying between yuu and iu.

Some suru verbs such as aisuru

Some suru verbs (see 2.1.7. What is a verb?), verbs made by adding suru to a noun, conjugate as if they were two verbs. For example, aisuru "to love" (see 13.3. How can I say "I love you" in Japanese?) may conjugate as aisuru and aisu, depending on the form. aisu is used for the potential form aiseru "can love", instead of aidekiru. Similarly for verbs such as yakusu (translate).

sci.lang.japan FAQ / 2. Grammar / 2.1. Verbs

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