Learn to Read! Japanese Reading Lesson 006: Intro to Verbs and Wanting

Posted by meronpan on April 22, 2009

This has got to be the most out of order Japanese reading course you’ll ever find. ^^;  This is also an unheard of two Japanese lessons in a row.  Anyhow, today’s topic is wanting! As in, “I want to go swimming” or “I want to eat taiyaki.” Or…


Sorry about the bad scan… manga don’t exactly lay flat ^^;;  Lesson material is taken from the opening chapter of まんが家さんとアシスタントさんと (まんがかさんとあしすたんとさんと == Mr. Manga Artist & Ms. Assistant &). Read on for an explanation of the “tai” form, but first, and introduction to verbs!  Might be unsafe for work, but then again you shouldn’t be studying Japanese at work (usually) :P

From this point on, I will not always put up romaji for the hiragana, so make sure to get those down!  Total immersion, it’s for your own good :P

In the opening panel we see Mr. manga artist muttering aloud, 「おっぱいもみたい…」 (you can read that now, right? ^__^ if you’re a little rusty, it’s oppai momitai). oppai you probably are well familiar with at this point, so let’s focus on もみたい. もみたい is a conjugation of the verb もむ, to rub, wrinkle, massage… or in this cape… grope :P

cc cops a feel.  click for gelbooru

cc cops a feel. click for gelbooru

First of all, all verbs in Japanese end with an う sound. So う、く、ぐ、す、つ、ぬ、ぶ、む、and る are all possible endings. Verbs are then split into two categories, in my classes we called them う verbs and る verbs. う verbs can end in any of the characters previously listed, while る verbs always end in る. Take home lesson – unless the verb ends in る, it’s an う verb. If it ends in る, it could be either.

So what’s that have to do with anything? Conjugation varies depending on the verb type. For example let’s look at かく – to write. Since it doesn’t end in る, it must be an う verb. Let’s conjugate to the ます (polite) form. For う verbs, we take the ending character in the verb and convert it to the corresponding い character – in this case き, and get かき. Now add ます – かきます! Congrats, you can now say/read, “I/he/she/you/we/they write(s)”… politely!  Notice also that we don’t care about the subject! In Japanese you say “I write” the same way as you say, “you write” or “he writes,” etc. The only way to differentiate is by context or with a pronoun. (i.e. わたしはかきます。 (watashi wa kakimasu. watashi == I, so this translates to “I write.”)).

Back to the conjugation, let’s revisit the steps in conjugating. First of all we switch up the last character:

う (u) ⇒ い (i)
く (ku) ⇒ き (ki)
ぐ (gu) ⇒ ぎ (gi)
す (su) ⇒ し (shi)
つ (tsu) ⇒ ち (chi)

Here’s a slightly more visual diagram.   Just use the same rules for ぐ and ぶ, which I left out ^^;


…easy enough, right? Once you’ve substituted the correct character, let’s call that form the pre-masu form. To the pre-masu form, just add ます for the ます conjugation.

いう (to say) ⇒ いい (pre-masu form) ⇒ いいます
かく (to write) ⇒ かき (pre-masu form) ⇒ かきます
およぐ (to swim) ⇒ およぎ (pre-masu form) ⇒ およぎます

Despite the number of swimsuits you see, not too much swimming seems to go on in anime :P  click for gelbooru (though the pic isn't any bigger)

Despite the number of swimsuits you see, not too much swimming seems to go on in anime :P click for gelbooru (though the pic isn't any bigger)

はなす (to talk) ⇒ はなし ⇒ はなします
たつ (to stand) ⇒ たち ⇒ たちます

Getting the hang of it? Worried about る verbs? Luckily they’re totally easy. Drop the る, you’ve got the pre-masu form. So just add ます and you’re done!

たべる (to eat) ⇒ たべ ⇒ たべます
きる (to cut) ⇒ き ⇒ きます (update: i’m an idiot, this is an u verb ^^;;;  gomen m(_ _)m)
できる (to be able to) ⇒ でき ⇒ できます

Just remember that some verbs ending in る are actually う verbs. For example:

かえる (to go home) ⇒ かえり ⇒ かえります
わかる (to understand) ⇒ わかり ⇒ わかります
なおる (to be fixed, cured) ⇒ なおり ⇒ なおります

mio cures some people just by looking at them :P  click for gelbooru (same rez orz)

mio cures some people just by looking at them :P click for gelbooru (same rez orz)

We’ll cover irregular verbs another time :P Anyhow, let’s look over what we’ve covered… now you can recognize verbs, and conjugate to the ます form. The ます form is simply a polite version of the present tense, so the only difference between it and the regular form is formality. As far as strict meaning goes, they’re interchangeable. Thus, わたしはかく。 and わたしはかきます。 both mean, “I write.” The ます version is just more polite.

Getting back to the manga, instead of ます, you can add たい to the pre-masu form of a verb to give it the meaning, “want to ~.”

かく (to write) ⇒ かき ⇒ かきたい (want to write)
たべる (to eat) ⇒ たべ ⇒ たべたい (want to eat)
もむ (to rub) ⇒ もみ ⇒ もみたい (want to rub)
みる (to see) ⇒ み ⇒ みたい (want to see)

Note that this form expresses a personal want, and thus is restricted to meaning, “I want to ~.” You can use it in a question to ask someone if they want to do something, but that’s as far as it goes.

えいが を みたい ですか (Do you want to see a movie?)
えいが が みたい です。 (I want to see a movie.)
あなたは えいが を みたい です (You want to see a movie. *Not a question, can’t say it this way)
あゆ は たいやき を たべたい です。 (Ayu wants to eat taiyaki.  *Third person, can’t say it this way)

You’ll also note that the above examples stick です on the end of the sentences.  That’s the polite version of the ‘tai’ form.  For the regular version, just leave off the です.

Beginners can skip this paragraph, intermediate/advanced students may be curious… For verbs that take a direct object, you can use を or が as the object particle.  が denotes a stronger feeling than を so make sure to use it appropriately.  However, there are some cases where, despite a strong feeling, が cannot be used.  Specifically, when the verb is passive, when the preceding noun is not the direct object of the verb, and finally, when you have a long phrase between the particle and the verb (わたしはあにめねるまえにみたいです! – I want to watch anime before i go to sleep.  – though You could say, わたしはねるまえにあにめがみたいです。).

Not to leave you hanging, here’s the next page.  The grammar will be covered (eventually ^^;) in future lessons, but I’ve provided a translation along with vocab run downs.


Just love hiroyuki’s character design.


So on the first page we see the manga artist mutters aloud, “I want to grope some breasts!”  In this panel his assistant responds with, “haa…” (ok……/riiight….).  はい means yes, and a very sharp, crisp は! is also used to mean yes (often in military situations).  はあ  is kind of related to the latter… it can still mean yes, but with a sighing sort of tone (implied by the …..), it’s more of, well, a spoken sigh.  In some cases I think it ties pretty directly to saying ‘yeah…’


The boxes introduce the characters.  On the right, “Manga Artist – aito yuuki.”  His name could also be translated as, “Love and courage” ^^;  On the left, “Assistant – ashisu sahoto.”  yuuki’s speech bubble has some katakana in it – エッチ – a very important otaku word.  … “ecchi” :P  Did you read the rest of it it ok?  “iya mochiron ecchi na riyuu de wa nakute ne.”  == “Well, of course, not for perverted reasons…”

iya – no/well…
mochiron – of course
ecchi – perverted
riyuu – reason
de wa nakute – negative form of the verb ‘to be’


“kono motsure atte monde shimau shi-n no sankou ni” – “…I need a reference for this scene where they get tangled up and he gropes her on accident.”

kono – this
motsure au – to be tangle together
monde shimau – a form of the verb momu which implies an accident occured, or something unintended/undesired ended up happening
shi-n – scene
sankou – reference

“shujinkou ga hajimete onna no ko no mune wo momu shi-n…” – “It’s the scene where the main character feels a girl’s breasts for the first time…”

shujinkou – main character
hajimete – first time
onna no ko – girl
mune – breasts

“onaji otoko to shite saikou no kuoriti- de shiagete yaritai …!” – “As a fellow man, I want to deliver this with nothing but the best quality!”

onaji – same
otoko – man
to shite – “as a”
saikou – highest
kuoriti- – quality
shiageru – to finish, complete
yaritai – tai form of the verb yaru… this one’s a bit complex, for now let’s just say it’s a verb roughly meaning ‘to do’ (don’t try using it in speech until you understand it completely though or you may offend people ^^;)

What luck!  Another example of the “tai” ending.  Notice the panel ends with the word ‘shiageteyaritai’ and in the translation we have the corresponding ‘want to deliver.’  There are other ways to express the concept of wanting including ways to cover the situations not allowed by the ‘tai’ form.

Gonna stop there for now.  Sorry for those who already know these verb conjugations… don’t think I covered anything new or intersting.  ^^;  Going forward it looks like I’m gonna have to think of how to structure this better.  So much to cover ^^;;;

If you’re wondering how yuuki solves his dilema, don’t worry, I’ll finish off the chapter in a future post ^^



12 Responses to “Learn to Read! Japanese Reading Lesson 006: Intro to Verbs and Wanting”

  1. phossil said

    Thanks for your learn to learn posts!!
    Theyre amazing!!

  2. usagi_joou said

    Yay! That was cool! It’s even cooler for me personally, cause, you know, English is not my native language. You are successfully teaching me Japanese towards another foreign language. I think that’s uber-cool!^__^

    This verb form routine – it was a real headache for me when we studied them in my Japanese classes more then a year ago (I don’t take Japanese classes any more). And it seems so simple here!
    Maybe that was because our textbook dealed only with masu-form of the verbs up to 15-th lesson. They wanted us to be polite!^^

    So – ありがとぅございます!

    • meronpan said

      どういたしまして ^_^

      yeah, lotsa classes seem to stick with the masu form… which isn’t bad… just not as interesting :P glad you are able to find my lessons useful ^^

  3. aprilius20 said

    I actually thought the first pic was fanart of Death Note’s Light teaching his sister math waaay back in volume 1 until I saw the manga title^^;;

    • meronpan said

      hahah alas, probably won’t see too many death note references on this blog until i actually get around to that series ^^;; i have volume 1 of the manga… but have only read a few chapters ^^;;

  4. elczenius said

    Great refresher course for intermediate, and a nice clear intro for beginners. Arigatou, meron-sensei. ;D

  5. sonic_ver2 said

    Kinda complex to me, but will that “change the u to i” work for every verbs?

    • meronpan said

      well, so you do the u -> i change for u verbs only. so basically, if the verb doesn’t end in ru, yes, use u -> i. if it does end in ru, you have to look up that verb or ask – sometimes verbs ending in ru follow the same pattern, but other times they drop the ru completely.

      perhaps i shoulda divided this post into sections ^^; but anyhow, if you look between the hinagiku and mio pics, that’s where i give examples of ru verbs and u verbs that end in ru. But again, you have to memorize which verbs fall into whatever category. here’s some more examples:

      hashiru (to run, u verb) -> hashiri -> hashirimasu
      sameru (to become cold, ru verb) -> same -> samemasu

      Actually just remembered another tip I should’ve included: If a verb ends in ru and the character *preceeding* is not an ‘i’ or ‘e’ character, it is always an u verb. (however, when it is an e or i, it is *not necessarily* a ru verb) For example:

      oru (to fold) – note the character preceding ru – *o*ru – therefore this is an ‘u’ verb -> ori -> orimasu
      nokoru (to remain) – nok*o*ru – not e or i, also an ‘u’ verb -> nokori -> nokorimasu
      hikaru (to shine, glitter, be bright) – hik*a*ru – not e or i -> ‘u’ verb -> hikari -> hikarimasu

      tereru (to be shy, feel awkward) -> ter*e*ru – character is an ‘e’!! cannot be certain, you have to look it up. in this case, it’s a ru verb -> tere -> teremasu
      nigiru (to grasp) -> nig*i*ru – character is an ‘i’!! cannot be certain. if you look it up, you’ll find it’s an u verb -> nigiri -> nigirimasu

  6. […] that dramatic ^^;).  Today we will cover the negative present tense!  Click here for lesson 1 or here for the previous lesson (6).  Ready?  Rettsu GO! 家庭教師のおねえさん – click for […]

  7. […] already translated a few pages of the first chapter for one of my (long overdue) Learn to Read Japanese posts, so you […]

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