Bungo Nyûmon
A Brief Introduction to Classical Japanese

Verbs 

 

Na-hen dôshi  (N-row changing verbs)

     This category of verbs is so called as all the changes take place in the N- file in the syllabary. That is, all changes represent addition to a stem-final N.

     Although there are only two verbs in this category (shinu [= to die] and inu [=to go away], as all six stem forms change, this is often the first verb form to be learned.

     The sample verb in the paradigm below is “shinu.

 Stem Form
Ending
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
–a
shina–
shinazu
(he doesn’t die)
Ren’yôkei
–i
shini–
shinitari
(he died)
Shûshikei
–u
shinu
shinu
(he dies)
Rentaikei
–uru
shinuru
shinuru hito
(a person who dies)
Izenkei
–ure
shinure–
shinuredomo
(although he dies…)
Meireikei
–e (–yo)
shine (–yo)
shine yo!
(die!)

Ra-hen dôshi  (R-row changing verbs)

     This category of verbs is so called as all the changes take place in the R-file in the syllabary. That is, all changes represent addition to a stem-final R.

     There are only four verbs in this category: ari (= to be), ori (= to be seated/to be at), haberi (an honorific form of “to be/to do”), and the forms of imasugari (an honorific form of “ari”).

     The sample adjective in the paradigm below is “ari” (= to be), in MJ “aru.”

 Stem Form
Ending
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
–a
ara–
arazu
(he is not present)
Ren’yôkei
–i
ari–
ariki
(he was present)
Shûshikei
–i
ari
ari
(he is present)
Rentaikei
–u
aru
aru hito
(a person who is present)
Izenkei
–e
are–
aredomo
(although he is present…)
Meireikei
–e (–yo)
are (–yo)
are yo!
(be!)

 

Yodan dôshi  (Four-row verbs)

     This verb category is so named as changes reflect four of the five possible vowel “rows” (omitting only the vowel O).

     More CJ verbs fall into this category than any other.

     The sample verb in the paradigm below is “kaku” (= to write).

 Stem Form
Ending
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
–a
kaka–
kakazu
(he doesn’t write)
Ren’yôkei
–i
kaki–
kakitari
(he wrote)
Shûshikei
–u
kaku
kaku
(he writes)
Rentaikei
–u
kaku
kaku hito
(a person who writes)
Izenkei
–e
kake–
kakedomo
(although he writes…)
Meireikei
–e (–yo)
kake (–yo)
kake yo!
(write!)

    Note that the shûshikei and rentaikei are identical, as are the izenkei and meireikei.

 

Shimo-nidan dôshi  (Lower two-row verbs)

     This verb category exhibits changes along the lower part of the vowel chart (using E, which is below I) thus the use of the term “lower.”

     The next most common verb type roughly corresponding to the ichidan verbs of MJ. Almost every MJ verb that ends in –eru is a shimo nidan verb. The trick to finding the CJ form is to remove the –eru ending from the dictionary form and just add a –u to the final consonant. Thus, the MJ verb taeru (= to endure) is, in CJ, tayu (tayerueru = tay; tay + u = tayu):

     The sample adjective in the paradigm below is “tayu.

 Stem Form
Ending
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
–e
tae–
tezu
(he doesn’t endure)
Ren’yôkei
–e
tae–
taetari
(he endured)
Shûshikei
–u
tayu
tayu
(he endures)
Rentaikei
–uru
tayuru
tayuru hito
(a person who endures)
Izenkei
–ure
tayure–
tayuredomo
(although he endures…)
Meireikei
–e (–yo)
tae (–yo)
tae yo!
(endure!)

 

Kami-nidan dôshi  (Upper two-row verbs)

     This verb category exhibits its changes along the upper end of the vowel chart (using I, which is above E) thus the use of the term “upper”).

     There are many verbs in CJ in this category. Most MJ verbs that end in –iru are kami-nidan. The CJ form for a MJ –iru verb can be found in the same way as for the shimo-nidan verbs, explained above.

        The sample verb in the paradigm below is “otsu” (= to fall), in MJ “ochiru.”

 Stem Form
Ending
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
–i
ochi–
ochizu
(he doesn’t fall)
Ren’yôkei
–i
ochi–
ochitari
(he fell)
Shûshikei
–u
otsu
otsu
(he falls)
Rentaikei
–uru
otsuru
otsuru hito
(a person who falls)
Izenkei
–ure
otsure–
otsuredomo
(although he falls…)
Meireikei
–i (–yo)
ochi (–yo)
ochi yo!
(fall!)

 

Kami-ichidan dôshi  (Upper one-row verbs)

     There is only a handful of verbs in this category, all of which are MJ –iru verbs.

     The sample verb in the paradigm below is “miru” (= to see).

 Stem Form
Ending
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
–i
mi–
mizu
(he doesn’t see)
Ren’yôkei
–i
mi–
mitari
(he saw)
Shûshikei
–ru
miru
miru
(he sees)
Rentaikei
–ru
miru
miru hito
(a person who sees)
Izenkei
–re
mire–
miredomo
(although he sees…)
Meireikei
–i (–yo)
mi (–yo)
mi yo!
(look at it! / watch it!)

 

Sa-hen dôshi (S-row verbs) 

     This form is called the sa-hen dôshi as it changes down the S row.

     Suru  (= to do) and owasu (= to appear) are the only two CJ verbs in this category, although in CJ, as in MJ, the verb su (MJ: suru) can be added to nouns to form compound verbs (e.g., tabi [travel] + su = tabisu, “to travel”). Other verbs are those ending in –zu such as shinzu (= to believe) and meizu (= to issue an order).

     The sample verb in the paradigm below is “su.

 Stem Form
Ending
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
–e
se–
sezu
(he doesn’t do)
Ren’yôkei
–i
shi–
shitari
(he did)
Shûshikei
–u
su
su
(he does)
Rentaikei
–ru
suru
suru hito
(a person who does)
Izenkei
–re
sure–
suredomo
(although he does…)
Meireikei
–e (–yo)
se (–yo)
se yo!
(do it!)

 

Ka-hen dôshi (K-row verb)

     The verb “ku” (= to come) is called the “ka-hen dôshi” as it changes down the K row. It is the only verb in this conjugation pattern. In MJ, the verb is kuru, recognized below as the CJ rentaikei of the CJ ku. Some of the CJ irregularity is preserved in the MJ, as the negative is not “kunai” but “konai” (paralleling the CJ “kozu”).

 Stem Form
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
ko–
kozu
(he doesn’t come)
Ren’yôkei
ki–
kitari
(he came)
Shûshikei
ku
ku
(he comes)
Rentaikei
kuru
kuru hito
(a person who comes)
Izenkei
kure–
kuredomo
(although he comes…)
Meireikei
ko (–yo)
ko yo!
(come here!)

 

Shimo-ichidan dôshi (Lower first-row verb)

     There is only one shimo-ichidan verb in CJ, namely, keru (= to kick).

 Stem Form
Paradigm
Example
Mizenkei
ke–
kezu
(he doesn’t kick)
Ren’yôkei
ke–
ketari
(he kicked)
Shûshikei
keru
keru
(he kicks)
Rentaikei
keru
keru hito
(a person who kicks)
Izenkei
kere–
keredomo
(although he kicks…)
Meireikei
ke (–yo)
ke yo!
(kick!)

This page was last updated on 3/24/04.

This page and all contents copyright ©2001,2004 by Anthony J. Bryant.
Copying or transmission in all or part without express written permission is forbidden.