Difference between a -る verb and a -う verb?
  • Hi,
    I've just learnt the verbs at my japanese school but there's something I didn't get at all. We learnt the -る and -う verbs, but in the -う verbs part we have verbs like : かえる、ある、おわる
    They should be in the -る verbs group, why are they in the -う verbs category, I mean, how do you draw a distinction between "real" -る verbs and those verbs placed in the -う category even if they end by -る?
    Thanks. (answer with no kanjis, just kanas please)
  • This is why I hate the western stupidity of calling ichidan and godan verbs "ru" and "u" verbs. That isn't how Japanese people see the grammar and there's really no point in making such a weak distinction. Here's how it ACTUALLY works:

    There's ichidan verbs (called "ru" verbs in your book/class) which ALWAYS end in -ru in their infinite form. Those are very easy to conjugate. Examples include taberu, miru and tomeru.
    There's godan verbs (called "u" verbs in your book/class) which end in different kana depending on the type of godan. There's u-godan like kau. There's s-godan like kaesu. There's n-godan like shinu. There's b-godan like asobu. AND there's R-godan like aru! (There are more types, but you get the point).

    The difference is that the "ru" and "u" distinction is made using romaji. In romaji, shinu and kaesu both end in u, in Japanese however, they do not. shinu ends in "nu", kaesu ends in "su". Here's an advice: Screw romaji. Ignore everything that depends on it, when you study Japanese, you should be thinking in terms of kana and kanji, not latin characters.

    So, how do you know if a verb ending in "ru" is ichidan or godan? You can't. You have to learn from exposure. Take the verb and look at the -masu form and you'll know.
  • As Tobberoth said, there's no way to tell. A trick which usually works is ~aru/~uru/~oru verbs are usually u verbs while ~iru/~eru are usually ru verbs. But that's not 100% so you do need to learn and memorize. It becomes particularly hard when you get verbs which are spelled the same like kiru or kaeru. The u verb means to cut (kirimasu) and the ru verb means to wear clothes above the waist (kimasu). So while there is a trick, you still need to learn and memorize.
  • That's a very frustrating part of Japanese at first.
    There's pretty much no way to always be able to tell.
    I gave up on the trick Aodh mentioned a long time ago because I found it just as cumbersome as memorizing what kind of verb it was.
    Denshi Jisho is VERY nice because it tells you ichidan or godan when you look up a word.
    If you use a portable dictionary (intended for use by Japanese people) it will not tell you either.
    I often read some of the example sentences in the dictionary and observe patterns in order to find out (i.e. past tense or -te form). If you only
    have the dictionary form and you're seeing it for the first time it's impossible to tell. If you have an example sentence using kangaeru (think, consider)
    and you see the past tense kangaeta, you know it is an ichidan (-ru) verb.

    I agree, the -u verb, -ru verb idea is stupid but I've never even met a Japanese person who knows what ichidan or godan means (this includes public jr. high and elementary
    school teachers!). So I would disagree with Tobberoth about Japanese people "seeing" grammar at all. Once you explain it to them they can see it (and they'll probably be impressed, so use this one for cocktail parties). They don't seem to be taught specific things about the grammar of their own language (a huge chunk of their Japanese class must be taken up by Kanji). At least where I live, kids aren't even taught what an 'adjective' is in their Japanese class until they get to 8th grade (jr. high). I was pretty surprised, as I was thinking up filthy adjectives, nouns, and verbs ending in -ing when I was playing Mad Libs with my friends in 3rd grade.

    Conversely I wish Japanese people COULD understand how to break up syllables into smaller units like Roman alphabet users do.
    It would make my job a lot easier. :-P
  • Posted By: paulusmaximus
    [p]If you use a portable dictionary (intended for use by Japanese people) it will not tell you either.[/p]

    As a nice bonus, this app for the iPod Touch (http://www.codefromtokyo.com/japanese) does tell the difference between u and ru verbs, and it gives conjugations too.
  • When I say how Japanese see grammar, I'm obviously talking about Japanese people who do know about it. Check any real japanese dictionary, verbs will be clearly noted as either ichidan, godan or irregular like suru and kuru. You wouldn't see a Japanese person using the "ru" and "u" distinction, it's based solely on romaji.
  • I found the a/u/o vs. i/e trick useful even if it doesn't always work. I think after you study and use the words long enough (and really this doesn't take all that long) it becomes intuitive, not only with verbs you've already learned, but new verbs you'll encounter. I agree with Tobberoth though, you can't think of the verbs in terms of romaji, it has to be in kana. I'm surprised at how strongly people feel about learning this kind of grammar; I found it easy enough to get used to. If you think about all the irregulars in the English language, this aspect of Japanese is a cakewalk.
  • I think you'll get the hang out of it eventually
  • Posted By: apocalypticpotato
    [p]If you think about all the irregulars in the English language, this aspect of Japanese is a cakewalk.[/p]


    I've got to agree with this. Nearly all verbs fit into one of the two regular categories.
  • If 「る」 does not end in "iru" or "eru", it is always an u-verb. However, there are a number of u-verbs that end in "iru" or "eru". But there are only few (like 5%) ru-verbs that end "iru". Here is list of all common ru-verbs that ends iru:

    JLPT4
    見る, いる, 着る, できる, 起きる, 浴びる, 降りる, 借りる

    JLPT3
    足りる, 過ぎる, 似る, 下りる, 落ちる, 生きる

    If you remember those, so then you only need to know when "eru" is ru or u-verb
  • It is very interesting to read the comments on this forum. I have one bit of advice. Never learn Romaji! If you hope to speak in Japanese fluently someday you will have to think in Japanese. This is almost impossible with your mind full of the English Romaji. Learn Japanese the way Japanese do. Learn the Kanji, Hiragana and the Katakana.
    Be prepared for the long term but its worth It! More than 20 years ago I gave up learning Japanese because I couldn't sort through the confusion caused by learning Romaji. Now I am learning the Japanese way and I am doing very well. Good luck to everyone and God bless!
  • Alright, something I haven't seen mentioned in the fourms I've been reading is the verb bases. They do explain the godan and ichidan verbs very well, but now I'm wondering if this is even RIGHT because I've never seen it anywhere but my Japanese coach (>.<):<br />
    - this is for a "ichidan" verb
    B1 - たべ
    B2 - たべ
    B3 - たべる (dictionary form)
    B4 - たべれ
    B5 - たべよう
    Bte - たべて
    Bta - たべた

    Now to set up formal verbs, they say to use base 2 plus the ます  ません  ました ませんでした. Godan verbs are a little bit different:

    B1 - よま
    B2 - よみ
    B3 - よむ
    B4 - よめ
    B5 - よもう
    Bte - よんで
    Bta - よんだ

    Godan verbs follow the あ い う え お pattern. Now with the godan verbs there is rules depedning on what the last character is. For instance: if the last character is a う, つ or る then the last character needs to be replaced with った for base た. There is four or five rules for godan for each base, て and た.

    So...is this right? Or even worth learning? To me, learning the bases seem a little excessive...
  • Posted By: Hoxist
    [p]Alright, something I haven't seen mentioned in the fourms I've been reading is the verb bases. They do explain the godan and ichidan verbs very well, but now I'm wondering if this is even RIGHT because I've never seen it anywhere but my Japanese coach (>.<):[/p][p]- this is for a "ichidan" verb<br />B1 - たべ
    B2 - たべ
    B3 - たべる (dictionary form)
    B4 - たべれ
    B5 - たべよう
    Bte - たべて
    Bta - たべた[/p][p]Now to set up formal verbs, they say to use base 2 plus the ます  ません  ました ませんでした. Godan verbs are a little bit different:[/p][p]B1 - よま
    B2 - よみ
    B3 - よむ
    B4 - よめ
    B5 - よもう
    Bte - よんで
    Bta - よんだ[/p][p]Godan verbs follow the あ い う え お pattern. Now with the godan verbs there is rules depedning on what the last character is. For instance: if the last character is a う, つ or る then the last character needs to be replaced with った for base た. There is four or five rules for godan for each base, て and た.[/p][p]So...is this right? Or even worth learning? To me, learning the bases seem a little excessive...[/p]


    There's really nothing right or wrong about it. Grammar are just patterns in languages, no one planned it to be a certain way. But yes, the talk of "bases" based on あ い う え お is common in Japanese teaching, not as common in western teaching of Japanese. In Japanese, those various "bases" have real names, though those names aren't used much in teaching.
  • I hate the bases. I'm actually kind of naughty (in the eyes of many people here), and use split syllables in my head, e.g.

    yom anai
    yom imasu

    (I don't visualise the romaji in my head, I just split the sound).

    I may be a freak, but I'm a freak who speaks 4 languages, and this system works for me.

    I wouldn't use it if I was teaching Japanese, and I'm not encouraging anyone here to use it, just pointing out that different methods can work for different people - I think some people in this forum can come across very strongly in their opposition to certain styles.
  • Roro, you just made a whole lot of sense to me. Holy smokes.

    I use Rosetta Stone ocassionally, and when I look at all their stuff in the romanji form, it is split exactly like you do it. I couldn't figure out why or even what it was saying but now it makes sense o.o
  • Posted By: roro
    [p]I hate the bases. I'm actually kind of naughty (in the eyes of many people here), and use split syllables in my head, e.g.[/p][p]yom anai
    yom imasu[/p][p](I don't visualise the romaji in my head, I just split the sound).[/p][p]I may be a freak, but I'm a freak who speaks 4 languages, and this system works for me.[/p][p]I wouldn't use it if I was teaching Japanese, and I'm not encouraging anyone here to use it, just pointing out that different methods can work for different people - I think some people in this forum can come across very strongly in their opposition to certain styles.[/p]

    While I see your point (and I personally thought similarly when I first learned conjugation) it isn't really a good way of thinking about it since it makes the -te form hard to handle. yom-u, yom-i, yom....nde? huh?

    In general, I would stick to my mantra, never use or rely on romaji. It only makes things difficult.
  • yom ... nde?

    That's a good point Tobberoth, and one that I hadn't considered. As I said, I just sort of do it instinctively and it works for me (I suppose I deal with forms such as yonde without really thinking about it). That is of course why I would never actually use this as a teaching method.
  • um there's so much here lol. but since i really read the first few posts ill respond to those.

    about the endings...(and i do agree with the odd way of teaching verbs in class) there IS no actual difference between U and Ru verbs. they just get conjugated differently like in English and its own problematic verbs. I would suggest that u should ALSO forget romaji (its something the chinese created and its rather useless to the world of Japan if u wanna understand every little thing concerning the Japanese language)

    Follow the hiragana chart. it makes it simple for you. everything is a couple except for the a i u e o part. when dealing with verbs, everything but the a i u e o will basically count as ONE vowel. technically speaking. so taberu....ru is the ending. nemu...mu is the ending. and then u have the irregulars like suru and kuru. aisuru is suru and so on. so really, think of em as couplings.
  • (pardon my lack of kana I'm not at a capable computer ^^;)
    Well, not to go into a lecture: ^^

    Useful Information and answering the question:
    -Romanji is bad, do not use unless necessary, and it is wiser to when you do to use letters that correspond to an exact symbol, rather than sound.

    -Just remember verbs that end in -ru, but not -iru/-eru are godan verbs, no exceptions. Most -iru/-eru verbs are ichidan verbs, with the very notable exception of kaeru (to return), kangaeru (to consider), iru (to need/to enter/to fry) - but kaeru (to replace) and iru (to be/to shoot) are ichidan verbs - further proof that you can never be sure when you're dealing with an -iru/eru ending, but in that respect it is more likely for the verb to be ichidan.

    Lecture and mostly pointless information:
    romanji is bad, because 99% of the schemes don't use the exact corresponding "letters" as how it's spelled in Japanese, it's a shock to come out of it (for some people) so it's not a good place to start. Plus romanji schemes differ... it's a mess.

    Godan verbs are called godan (five-step) verbs because they use all five endings to a phonetical row, they used to be yodan, but the -o(u) was added for volitional. If you're curious why -a is sometimes -wa for "u" verbs that's because they used to be "hu" verbs and thus it would be "ha" not "a" but because of sound rules, would be pronounced "wa" - you don't need to know this it's just an interesting fact ^^;

    Godan: -a(/-o),-i,-u,-u,-e,-e (Mizenkei,Renyoukei,Shuushikei=,=Rentaikei,Izenkei,Meireikei)

    Ichidan verbs are called ichidan (one-step) verbs because they use only one ending to a phonetical row, the verbs in here used to comprise of upper and lower ichidan and nidan verbs. upper was for ones with an -i (upper), and another with an -e (lower) - nidan verbs were conjugated differently but were more or less converted into ichidan verbs over time - most of them into -eru (as there was only one original -eru verb anyway); almost all eru(using the actual kana for 'e')/reru verbs were lower nidan - but now I'm trailing off. Any "-ru" that is not -iru/-eru is a godan verb.

    Ichidan: -,-,-ru,-ru,-re,-yo (Mizenkei,Renyoukei,Shuushikei=,=Rentaikei,Izenkei,Meireikei)

    te/ta forms come from sound changes resulting from simplifiying sounds from the Renyoukei+Te in yodan/godan verbs. "matte" used to be "machite" etc. - So although it's hard at first it will come strangely naturally over time :) If you study bungo "bases" make a lot more sense.
  • Thank you for the information regarding codefromtokyo for iPad/Pod/Phone.

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