Japanese Verb Tense Cheat Sheet

Written by Richard Webb | December 18, 2018

Even though Japanese has relatively few verb tenses and forms compared to many languages, there are still quite a lot of variations – all of which take time to learn and internalize.

That’s where a cheat sheet can help! Something like this…

This Japanese Verb Tense Cheat Sheet summarizes everything you need to know to understand:

  • how Japanese verbs are conjugated
  • the most useful and important verb tenses and forms, and
  • when to use each tense/form.

There are two versions – one with hiragana, one with romaji – and both are free!

Here’s a quick breakdown of the sections of the cheat sheet:

Verb Structure & Types

Explains Verb Structure (Stem + Ending) for each type of verbs – Ru-Verbs, U-Verbs, and Irregular Verbs.

Verb Tense/Form Selection and Usage

Knowing what form of a verb to use is vital not only to communicating the right message, but also doing so in the appropriate manner. This section of the cheat sheet includes two parts:

How to choose the appropriate level of politeness

There are two main levels of politeness that most Japanese language learners need to know – informal and polite. This section briefly explains when you should use the polite form, and when you should use the informal form.

How to choose the appropriate verb tense/form

This lists the most useful verb forms and explains when you should use each one.

Polite and Informal Verb Tenses & Forms

This includes a side-by-side summary of how to form each of the main verb tenses and forms, for both polite and informal Japanese. Tenses/forms include:

  • Present/future tense
  • Past tense
  • Negative present/future
  • Negative past
  • “Let’s” form
  • “I want to…” form
  • Potential (can do) form
  • Te-form

Just FYI…

For a detailed explanation, as well as heaps of examples and exercises to help you learn each of these verb forms and how to use them in sentences, check out my book, 80/20 Japanese. It covers everything on the cheat sheet, plus a whole lot more.

That’s It!

Needless to say, this cheat sheet has a truckload of information. It covers all the verb tenses and forms that most people would encounter in their first several years of studying Japanese – and all on a single page.

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  1. Share it on Facebook to get it though, but, no one in my friendslist will care… Oh! Could pick group! So I shared it on my Japanese study group, JTA Tsunami by Ken Canon, which makes it quite relevant and might actually reach someone who cares! =D

  2. Where exactly is the link to the "free" cheat sheet?
    Comments indicate we can get it through Facebook (which is BS because FB sucks), but I don't even see that specified above.

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