Ok, I finally gave up and put together a quick-n-dirty how-to for Japanese verb conjugation.
This is a compilation of information from many places.
Hope it helps....
good luck

Japanese Verb Conjugation

Go Here for the Quick Adjective-how-to...

The verb generally comes at the end of the sentence in the Japanese language. Because Japanese's sentences often omit the subject, the verb is probably the most important part in understanding the sentence. Unlike more complex verb conjugation of other languages, Japanese verbs do not have a different form to indicate the person (first-, second, and third-person), the number (singular and plural), or gender. 

Japanese verbs are roughly divided into three groups according to their dictionary form (basic form). 

Group 1: ~ U ending Verbs
The basic form of Group 1 verbs end with "~ u". This group is also called Consonant-stem verbs or Godan-doushi (Godan verbs).

Group 1

Group 1
hanasu to speak
kaku to write
kiku to listen
matsu to wait
nomu to drink

Group 2

Group 2: ~ Iru and ~ Eru ending Verbs
The basic form of Group 2 verbs end with either "~iru" or "~ eru".
This group is also called Ichidan or Vowel-stem verbs. 

Group 2
~ iru ending kiru to wear
miru to see
okiru to get up
oriru to get off
shinjiru to believe
~ eru ending akeru to open
ageru to give
deru to go out
neru to sleep
taberu to eat


The following verbs belong to Group 1, even though they end in "~ iru" or "~ eru".

Group 1 Exceptions
hairu to enter
hashiru to run
iru to need
kaeru to return
kagiru to limit
kiru to cut
shaberu to chatter
shiru to know

Group 3 (Irregular)

Group 3: Irregular Verbs
There are two irregular verbs, kuru (to come) and suru (to do).

The verb suru is likely the most often used verb. It is means to do, to make,or to cost. It is also combined with many nouns to change them into verbs.

Combination Examples

Noun + Suru
benkyousuru to study
ryokousuru to travel
yushutsusuru to export
dansusuru to dance
shanpuusuru to shampoo

Dictionary Form

The dictionary form (basic form) of all Japanese verbs end with "u". This is also the informal, present affirmative form of the verb. Use this with friends and family in informal situations.

Masu Form

The ~ masu Form (Formal Form)

Add the suffix "~ masu" to the dictionary form of a verb to make sentence polite. Use this form in situations theat require increased levels of politeness or formality, and is more appropriate for general use.

~ masu Form
Group 1 Remove the final ~u, and add ~ imasu
(kaku --- kakimasu, nomu --- nomimasu)
Group 2 Remove the final ~ru, and add ~ masu
(miru --- mimasu, taberu --- tabemasu)
Group 3 kuru --- kimasusuru --- shimasu


The verb stem can be found by removing the ~ masu from the ~masu form:

~ Masu Form Verb Stem
kakimasu kaki
nomimasu nomi
mimasu mi
tabemasu tabe


Present Tense

Japanese verbs have two main tenses, present and past. The present tense is used for future and habitual actions. The informal form of the present tense is the same as the dictionary form. Use the ~ masu form in formal situations.

Past Tense

The past tense is used to express actions completed in the past (I saw, I bought etc.) and present perfect tense (I have read, I have done etc.). The conjugation of Group 1 verbs varies with the consonant of the last syllable on the dictionary form. Group 2 verbs all have the same conjugation pattern. 

Past Tense
Group 1
Formal Replace ~ u with ~ imashita
kaku --- kakimashita
nomu --- nomimashita
Informal (1) Verb ending with ~ ku
replace ~ ku with ~ ita
kaku --- kaita
kiku --- kiita
(2) Verb ending with ~ gu
replace ~ gu with ~ ida
isogu --- isoida
oyogu --- oyoida
(3) Verb ending with ~ u, ~tsu and ~ ru
replace them with ~ tta
utau --- utatta
matsu --- matta
kaeru --- kaetta
(4) Verb ending with ~ nu, ~bu 
and ~ mu
replace them with ~ nda
shinu --- shinda
asobu --- asonda
nomu --- nonda
(5) Verb ending with ~ su
replace ~ su with ~ shita
hanasu --- hanashita
dasu --- dashita


Group 2

Formal Take off ~ru, and add ~ mashita
miru --- mimashita
taberu ---tabemashita
Informal Take off ~ru, and add ~ ta
miru --- mita
taberu --- tabeta


Group 3

Formal  kuru --- kimashita, suru --- shimashita
Informal kuru --- kita, suru ---shita


Present Negative

To make a negative sentence, change the verb ending into the ~nai, negative form.

Formal All Verbs (Group 1, 2, 3)
Replace ~ masu with ~ masen
nomimasu --- nomimasen
tabemasu --- tabemasen
kimasu --- kimasen
shimasu --- shimasen


Group 1

Replace the final ~ u with ~anai
(If verb ending is a vowel + ~ u, 
replace with ~ wanai)
kiku --- kikanai
nomu --- nomanai
au --- awanai


Group 2

Replace ~ ru with ~ nai
miru --- minai
taberu --- tabenai


Group 3

kuru --- konai, suru ---shinai


Past Negative

Formal Group 1, 2, 3
Add ~ deshita to 
the formal present negative form
nomimasen --- nomimasen deshita
--- tabemasen deshita
--- kimasen deshita
--- shimasen deshita


Group 1, 2, 3

Replace ~ nai  
with ~ nakatta
nomanai --- nomanakatta
tabenai --- tabenakatta
konai --- konakatta
shinai ---shinakatta

The TE Form

The ~ te form not indicate tense by itself. It combines with other verb forms to create other tenses. To make the ~ te form, replace the final ~ ta of the informal past tense of the verb with ~ te, and ~ da with ~ de.

Te Form
Informal Past The ~ te form
nonda nonde
tabeta tabete
kita kite


Functions of the ~ te form. 

1. Describe a habitual action/ condition

2. Request (~ te form + kudasai)

Mite kudasai. Please look.
Kiite kudasai. Please listen.


3. Present progressive: ~ te form + iru or imasu (formal)

Hirugohan o tabete iru. I am having lunch.
Terebi o mite imasu. I am watching TV.


4. Listing successive actions

Use to connect two or more verbs, used after all but the last verb in a sequence. 

Hachi-ji ni okite gakkou ni itta. I got up at eight and went to school.
Depaato ni itte kutsu o katta. I went to department store 
and bought shoes.


5. Ask permission: (~ te form + mo ii desu ka)

Terebi o mite mo ii desu ka. May I watch TV?
Tabako o sutte mo ii desu ka. May I smoke?


~TE Examples

Group 1 Example

Dictionary Form
(Basic Form)
English Formal Form The ~ te Form
aruku to walk arukimasu aruite
asobu to play asobimasu asonde
au to meet aimasu atte
hairu to enter hairimasu haitte
hajimaru to begin hajimarimasu hajimatte
iku to go ikimasu itte
kaeru to return kaerimasu kaette
kakaru to take kakarimasu kakatte
kaku to write kakimasu kaite
kau to buy kaimasu katte
kiku to listen kikimasu kiite
matsu to wait machimasu matte
motsu to have mochimasu motte
narau to learn naraimasu naratte
nomu to drink nomimasu nonde
okuru to send okurimasu okutte
omou to think omoimasu omotte
oyogu to swim oyogimasu oyoide
shiru to know shirimasu shitte
suwaru to sit suwarimasu suwatte
tatsu to stand tachimasu tatte
tomaru to stop tomarimasu tomatte
tsuku to arrive tsukimasu tsuite
uru to sell urimasu utte
utau to sing utaimasu utatte
wakaru to understand wakarimasu wakatte
warau to laugh waraimasu waratte
yomu to read yomimasu yonde


Group 2 Example

kangaeru to think kangaemasu kangaete
miru to see mimasu mite
neru to sleep nemasu nete
oshieru to teach oshiemasu oshiete
taberu to eat tabemasu tabete


Group 3 Example


to come




to do




The ~te form it does not indicate tense by itself; it can be used to string together sequences of verbs. One of the ~te form structure is "~ te kudasai," to expresse a request.

Kaite kudasai Please write.
Matte kudasai.  Please wait.

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