-Ru る Verbs

Everything with –る verbs is done by dropping or replacing –る with something else. Just remember the different uses of each conjugation.

Drop –る the root form of the veb. This can take things like –ます, –にくい "hard to", and –やすい "easy to":

たべ  →  たべやすい   "easy to eat"
This is also called the stem of the verb. When –ます is added to the stem of the verb the polite form of the verb is produced. The polite –ます forms of verbs are actually –う verbs, for which see.

Replace with –て for the gerund:

たべ  →  たべて
The gerund, also known as the conjunctive is for 'and'ing verbs, e.g. たべて いく "eat and go", and for simple orders, e.g. あれ たべて "eat that". It is often also used to form the 'continuative', e.g. たべ ている "eating", which works like English's "-ing" form. The gerund form is also used to conjoin multiple sentences into a single larger sentence.

Replace with –ない for the negative:

たべ  →  たべない   "don't eat"
This form is no longer a verb, but an adjective and is inflected accordingly.

Replace with –た for the past tense:

たべ  →  たべた   "ate"

Replace with –たり for the alternative, "do things like":

たべ  →  たべたり
An example is "たべたりした" "I did things like eating". This is frequently called the alternative in grammar books and textbooks, but that term is misleading. This conjugation doesn't necessarily denote an alternative. It just indicates that other unspecified things besides the verb may or may not have been done. Any verb ending in –たり usually requires a する at the end of the sentence.

Replace with –たら for the 'temporal' conditional, "if", "once":

たべ  →  たべたら   "if person eats"
Japanese has two forms of conditional conjugations for verbs; this is one of them. This form connotes a sense of time, as in English's "once ... then" or "when ... then" constructions. The other conditional form is the –れば form below.

Replace with –れば for the 'atemporal' conditional, "if":

たべ  →  たべれば   "if person eats"
This is somewhat different from –たら but the two are usually interchangeable. The –れば form does not give a sense of time, only of possible cause and effect.

Replace with –よう for the volitional, "let's":

たべ  →  たべよう   "let's eat"

Replace with –ろ for the imperative, "do!":

たべ  →  たべろ   "eat dammit"
This conjugation is fairly rare in ordinary conversation. It's considered rude. But it is heard often in things like やくざ gangster films, 侍時代 (さむらいじだい, "samurai period") films, in the military, and in 漫画 (まんが) and アニメ.

Replace with –られる for the potential, "can":

たべ  →  たべられる   "can eat"
This is now a –る verb which can conjugate on its own. Thus, "これ たべられない よ!" "I can't eat this!" (a very useful phrase to know).

Replace with –させる for the causative, "make person do":

たべ  →  たべさせる   "make person do"
This also becomes a –る verb of its own. So, "これ たべさせない で よ!" "Don't make me eat this!".

Replace with –られる for the passive, "was X-ed":

たべ  →  たべられる   "was eaten"
This becomes a –る verb as well. Thus, "ライオン に たべられた" "I was eaten by a lion." The に marks the agent, similar to the English "by" preposition. Note that this conjugation looks the same as the one for "can". Don't confuse the two because they are different. The difference between them is apparent with –う verbs which will be described in the next section.

Replace with –させられる for the passive causative, "be made to" or "be forced to":

たべ  →  たべさせられる   "made to eat"
This construction follows simply from combining the two previous conjugations together. So, "おかーさん に チキン を たべさせられた" "My mom made me eat chicken". Putting this into the passive conjugation makes it sound as if you didn't want to do something and feel sorry for yourself for having had to have done it. Thus this form is used frequently when complaining.

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