Japanese verbs, just like English verbs, are words that indicate some sort of action. Verbs in Japanese are both easier and harder than English verbs. First, let’s hit the easier part. In English, we have different verb forms depending upon the pronoun (I see, he sees; we do, she does). In Japanese there is no distinction between singular and plural. There is one verb form for all the pronouns.

More easy stuff. Japanese verbs are classified in one of three groups:

  1. u dropping verbs. These are all verbs ending in anything except the sounds –iru and –eru. Examples are yomu (to read), kaku (to write), kau (to buy), and oyogu (to swim).

  2. ru dropping verbs. These are the vast majority of verbs that end with the sounds –iru and –eru. Examples are taberu (to eat), miru (to see), and dekiru (to be able). Note that there are some verbs ending in the sounds iru and eru that actually belong to group 1.

  3. The two verbs suru (to do) and kuru (to come).

When you use a verb to describe an action, you need to describe when it happens. That’s called the verb’s tense. And that is where things start to get interesting in Japanese. Let’s start with present tense.