|Plain form||i form||Godan (consonant stem) verbs|
|kaku (かく)||kaki (かき)|
|kagu (かぐ)||kagi (かぎ)|
|orosu (おろす)||oroshi (おろし)|
|matsu (まつ)||machi (まち)|
|shinu (しぬ)||shini (しに)|
|korobu (ころぶ)||korobi (ころび)|
|yomu (よむ)||yomi (よみ)|
|hashiru (はしる)||hashiri (はしり)|
|heru (へる)||heri (へり)||Ichidan (vowel stem) verbs|
|kiru (きる)||ki (き)|
|aseru (あせる)||ase (あせ)|
This article deals with the bare -i form of the verb. That form, known variously as the ren'youkei (連用形), the "continuative form", the "infinitive", or even the "masu form" or "masu stem form", is used for attaching things such as -nagara and -masu. More importantly here, it is the underlying form to which "-te" is attached, although in modern Japanese funny sound changes take place there to disguise it. See How does the te form work?
The bare -i form may be thought of as the -te form minus the -te. The meaning is very similar, except that where "-te" often corresponds well with English "-ing" better than "and", the bare -i form doesn't match "ing" all that well. It is usually "and".
In rōmaji, the -i form will often look like a noun derived from the same verb. For example, hanashi might be "speaks and" or it might be "speech". However, in kanamajiri writing (kanji-kana mixture), such words are often distinct. Hanashi = "talk and" is written with a tailing shi, 話し, while hanashi = "speech" is written with just the one kanji, 話. (See also What is okurigana?)
In speech, if the verb is an accented verb, the -i form and the noun are normally distinguished by accent (see What is Japanese pitch accent?). For example, hanashi meaning "speak and" has a LHL pitch contour, with a drop of pitch between the na and the shi. Hanashi meaning "speech" has a LHH contour, with no drop in pitch until after the shi.
With unaccented verbs, one cannot distinguish the noun from the bare -i form in speech. Thus asobi (LHH) may be either "plays and" or "game". They are still distinct in writing, though, because of the okurigana.
Originally contributed by Bart Mathias.
Copyright © 1994-2020 Ben Bullock