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Japanese Lesson: Conjugation and uses of the -Te form

In this lesson, you'll learn about the most common uses for the -te form in Japanese, as well as how to conjugate it.

First, you have to find out what type of verb it is. This can be determined by the ending hiragana of the verb.

Ru Verbs

There are four different types of ru verbs. Verbs that end in う、つ and る are in the first category, verbs that end in む、ぶ、And ぬ are in the second category, verbs that end in く are in the third category, and finally, verbs that end in ぐ are in the fourth category.

How to conjugate category 1 verbs

To conjugate to the て form, you drop the 'u' vowel ending and add って.


待つ(まつ)To waitー>待って(まって)

歌う(うたう)To sing->歌って(うたって)

取る(とる)To take->取って(とって)

An exception for this would be for the verb 食べる(たべる). For this, it would just be 食べて

How to conjugate category 2 verbs

To conjugate verbs in the second category, you get rid of the 'u' and add on んで


遊ぶ(あそぶ)To play->遊んで(あそんで)

飲む(のむ)To drink ->飲んで(のんで)

死ぬ(しぬ)To die->死んで(しんで)

How to conjugate category 3 verbs

For category 3 verbs, you drop the 'u' vowel sound and add いて


書く(かく)To write ->書いて(かいて)

吐く(はく)To throw up ー> 吐いて(はいて)

How to conjugate category 4 verbs

Similar to category 3, for category 4 you drop the final vowel sound and add いで


泳ぐ(およぐ)To swim->泳いで(およいで)

急ぐ(いそぐ)To hury -> 急いで(いそいで)

Along with the four types of 'u' verbs, there is one other type. Verbs that end in す

When a verb ends in す, you simply change the す to し and add て

探す(さがす)To search for ->探して (さがして)

消す(けす)To delete, turn off->消して(けして)


Like all new conjugation forms, there are a few irregulars.

行く(いく)To go->行って(いって)

来る(くる)To come ->来て(きて)

する To do->して

Uses for the te form

You can add a few things to the end of the te form to make it mean different things. If you keep it the same with no new addition, it can be a command. Saying things like "Eat!" and "run!" are examples of this.

You can add ください to the end to make it a polite command, or くる to make it a slightly more rude command.

You can also add います、いる、or る to mean that you are currently doing something. If someone asks you what you're doing now, then that's the time to use this form. You would use いる and る in informal situations, and る is just a shortened form of いる

You can add いました、いた、or た to conjugate to the imperfect to say that you were doing something, or that you used to do something. Don't confuse this with the past tense, which tells about something that you did. Again, you would use いた and た informally.

If you have any questions or comments on things I might have messed up on, feel free to comment in the comment section.


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October 31, 2017



I think you need to introduce the difference between Ichidan and Godan verbs. Simply saying "An exception for this would be the verb たべる" is probably going to confuse people because, of course, it's not just たべる that behaves like this.

Reading the part in Genki that deals with te-forms helped me a lot. Also, the NHK course Easy Japanese introduces a little song that teaches you which verb changes to what.


Japanese is like new Maths, I just cannot move on.

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