Verb Groups, an Intro

A look at the various Verb Groups in Japanese

In this lesson we will look at recognizing verb groups. All verbs fall into one of three groups. The verbs in each group (except the irregular group) are conjugated in the same way. Before you are able to conjugate, however, you must recognize which verbs are related to which verbs.

A Prelude…


  • The irregular group only has 2 verbs!
  • The rest are not too difficult to master
  • Verbs are fun! Well sort of…
始めましょう! Let’s begin…

KEY SENTENCE: Please repeat several times:

kita, mita, katta
“I came, I saw, I conquered!”
(Caesar’s Famous Line)


来た kita (came) 来る kuru (to come)
見た mita (saw) 見る miru (to see)
勝った katta (won) 勝つ katsu (to win)

NOTE: The た ta form is the simple past for all verbs. (We’ll look at that in another article)

In order to understand which group the verbs are from, we look at their respective dictionary forms. These 3 verbs represent the 3 types of verbs :

来る kuru (irregular verbs) Group 3
見る miru (~ru verbs) Group 2
勝つ katsu (~u verbs) Group 1

  • Keep this in mind and move on!

Just like in English we know that, “I goed to the store.” is wrong, you will get a feel for what’s correct in Japanese in time.

NOTE: There are only 3 basic verb groups. Learn to recognize them by repeating them…

1) The ~u Group (group 1 verbs): -u: ends in -u, but not -eru or -iru (with few exceptions)
Also called 五段動詞 godan doushi or strong verbs (not important, but it may be helpful when reading grammar books)

書く kaku – (to write) ENDS IN k U
話す hanasu – (to speak) ENDS IN s U
泳ぐ oyogu – (to swim) ENDS IN g U
買う kau – (to buy) ENDS IN U

This is the 勝った katta 勝つ katsu group!

2) The ~ru Group (group 2 verbs): -ru: ends in -eru or -iru
Also called 一段動詞 ichidan doushi or weak verbs

見る miru – (to see) ENDS IN IRU
食べる taberu – (to eat) ENDS IN ERU
教える oshieru – (to teach) ENDS IN ERU

This is the 見た mita 見る miru group!

3) The irregular Group (group 3 verbs): There are ONLY 2 verbs to worry about.

する suru – (to do) This is the most important verb! But, alas, another day.
来る kuru – (to come) Another very useful verb!

This is the 来た kita 来る kuru group!

kita, mita, katta
“I came, I saw, I conquered!”

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