Japanese verb groups

learn more about Japanese verb groups!

Dividing Japanese verbs into groups is a didactic practice widely used by teachers and authors of Japanese books.

Japanese verb groups

The idea is to facilitate learning, dividing verbs into groups according to their endings and verb inflection rules.

Introduction to Japanese verbs

As everyone should already know, the japanese verbs they are not easy to learn, but they are certainly much easier than verbs in Portuguese. This is due to the fact that Japanese verbs are inflected only in three tenses: present affirmative, present negative, past affirmative and past negative.

When it comes to future tense, generally the Japanese use special constructions with adverbs of tense. Creating sentences in the future is something simpler than many imagine, but that is the subject of future articles.

When it comes to formality, Japanese verbs can be divided into two parts: informal and formal. This means that Japanese verbs can be inflected in eight different ways, one formal and one informal for each tense.

Japanese verb groups

Basically there are three groups of Japanese verbs, created from their phonetic endings and pattern of verb inflections. Because of this, it is not always possible to discover the group of a verb by its written form, and care must be taken not to confuse the groups of a verb in Japanese.

Another important curiosity is the okurigana, which is the part of the verb that does not change. It is easy to understand the okurigana of a verb because it is usually the kanji itself, and the part that can be modified is the rest of the word written in hiragana.

Group 1 – Verbs ending in “u”

When I say “verbs ending in u”, I am not saying that the Japanese verbs in this group end with the vowel , but that they can end with the vowel  or with any syllable with the “u” sound. (…)

This group of verbs in Japanese is also known as godan-doushi, or simply godan.


飲む – drink

待つ – wait

聞く – listen

書く – to write

話す – to speak

Group 2 – Verbs ending in “iru” and “eru”

This group of verbs is made up of Japanese verbs ending with the syllables いるor える. These syllables are not always seen when writing verbs using kanji. In fact, these two endings are more visible in the pronunciation of verbs and not in their writing.

This group of verbs is also known as ichidan-doushi, or just ichidan.


着る – to dress

見る – see

起きる – wake up

ありる – to jump, descend

信じる – believe

開ける – open

あげる – to give

出る – leave

寝る – sleep

食べる – to eat

Group 3 – Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs are made up of the verbs する and くる. A very interesting feature of these Japanese verbs is the ability to connect to other words, forming verbs where you can't even imagine.

Usually the Japanese take a word, be it from Japanese origin or foreign, and add くる or する in front of her to create a new verb. like the word ダンス, that with the verb する will come ダンスする.


勉強する – study

旅行する – to travel

輸出する – export

ダンスする – Dancing

Some Japanese verb exceptions

The Japanese language, like any other language, has its exceptions, and one of them is in the classification of verbs into groups.

When it comes to sorting into groups of Japanese verbs, we need to be careful with the verbs below, despite having the ending いる and える, they belong to the group of verbs ending in “u” and not to the second group of Japanese verbs.

This confusion happens because of the phonetic division. Realize that even though they end up with the sound いる and える, these verbs also end up using a syllable with a “u” sound, and this is what causes the great confusion.


入る – enter

走る – to run

いる – need, need

帰る - to return, return, return

限る – limit

切る – Cut

知る – to know, to know

Watch the video below about Japanese verb groups:

Kanji calligraphy exercise

Below are the Japanese ideographic symbols used in this article. Selecting the desired kanji, copy and paste them into Worksheet for Kana and Kanji Practice , a new window will open where you can view the printable file and practice Japanese calligraphy by covering the gray symbols and then trying to write yourself. Just print and practice.