A Brief Introduction to Classical Japanese
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 doesnt die)
Renyôkei i shini shinitari
Shûshikei u shinu shinu
Rentaikei uru shinuru shinuru hito
(a person who dies)
Izenkei ure shinure shinuredomo
(although he dies )
Meireikei e (yo) shine (yo) shine yo!
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)
Renyôkei 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!
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 doesnt write)
Renyôkei i kaki kakitari
Shûshikei u kaku kaku
Rentaikei u kaku kaku hito
(a person who writes)
Izenkei e kake kakedomo
(although he writes )
Meireikei e (yo) kake (yo) kake yo!
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 (tayeru eru = tay; tay + u = tayu):
The sample adjective in the paradigm below is tayu.
Stem Form Ending Paradigm Example Mizenkei e tae tezu
(he doesnt endure)
Renyôkei e tae taetari
Shûshikei u tayu tayu
Rentaikei uru tayuru tayuru hito
(a person who endures)
Izenkei ure tayure tayuredomo
(although he endures )
Meireikei e (yo) tae (yo) tae yo!
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 doesnt fall)
Renyôkei i ochi ochitari
Shûshikei u otsu otsu
Rentaikei uru otsuru otsuru hito
(a person who falls)
Izenkei ure otsure otsuredomo
(although he falls )
Meireikei i (yo) ochi (yo) ochi yo!
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 doesnt see)
Renyôkei i mi mitari
Shûshikei ru miru miru
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 doesnt do)
Renyôkei i shi shitari
Shûshikei u su su
Rentaikei ru suru suru hito
(a person who does)
Izenkei re sure suredomo
(although he does )
Meireikei e (yo) se (yo) se yo!
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 doesnt come)
Renyôkei ki kitari
Shûshikei ku ku
Rentaikei kuru kuru hito
(a person who comes)
Izenkei kure kuredomo
(although he comes )
Meireikei ko (yo) ko yo!
Shimo-ichidan dôshi (Lower first-row verb)
There is only one shimo-ichidan verb in CJ, namely, keru (= to kick).
(he doesnt kick)
(a person who kicks)
(although he kicks )
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