Japanese Verb Conjugation: Masu Form

The Masu form of verbs is one of the most used and important for those starting in the language, and its main function is politeness. Many people do not realize its importance in verb conjugation; however, it is of utmost importance to understand other conjugations.

Verb Tenses in Masu Form

Present/FutureNegativePastPast Negative
ますませんましたませんでした

With that said, we need to understand that all verbs in the Japanese language in their full form are called dictionary form or "jisho verbs," ending with the vowel U. Additionally, there are 3 groups of verbs in Japanese, and the Masu form varies according to the group.

Group 1 Verbs (Godan verbs)

Group 1 verbs encompass the majority of Japanese verbs and end in U, Ku, Su, Gu, Mu, Bu, Tsu, Nu, Ru (う,く,す,ぐ,む,ぶ,つ,ぬ,る). To transform them into the Masu form, we only need to change the last syllable ending in U to its corresponding syllable from the kana table with I + masu.

Transformation Table for Group 1 Verbs

Standard EndingReplace with

Let's see an example, the verb for "write" in Japanese is かく (kaku). To change it to the Masu form, we simply replace the last syllable from the U row with its equivalent from the I row and add "masu," so かく becomes かきます (kakimasu). Here's a table with more examples:

Group 1 Verbs Examples

EnglishDictionary FormMasu Form
Buyかうかいます
Walkあるくあるきます
Speakはなすはなしま
Swimおよぐおよぎます
Liveすむすみます
Playあそびますあそびます
Waitまつまちます
Dieしぬしにます
Sellうるうります

ケーキ を つくります。 - I make a cake

わたし は はしりませんでした。 - I did not run

テレビ を かいました。 - I bought a TV

Group 2 Verbs (Ichidan verbs)

All verbs in group 2 end in IRU or ERU, and their conjugation to the Masu form involves removing the final Ru syllable and adding "masu." For example, the verb for "eat" is 食べる (taberu). We remove Ru and add Masu to get 食べます (tabemasu).

Group 2 Verbs Examples

EnglishDictionary FormMasu Form
Wearきるきます
Wake upおきるおきます
Rememberおぼえるおぼえます
Researchしらべるしらべます

まど を しめます。 - Close the window

りんご を たべました。 - I ate the apple

ドア を あけません。 - Don't open the door

Irregular Verbs (Group 3)

The last group consists of irregular verbs, with only 2 verbs: Suru and Kuru. Here's their conjugation table:

Irregular Verbs Examples

EnglishDictionary FormMasu Form
Comeくるきます
Doするします

そうじ を しました。 - I did the cleaning

バス は きません。 - The bus is not coming

Lastly, for those delving into Japanese verb conjugation, it's crucial to note that the Masu form provides a foundation for polite speech and communication in various social contexts. Whether you're expressing daily activities or engaging in formal discussions, mastering these verb forms opens doors to effective communication in Japanese.