Special Verbs in Japanese | Uses & Sentence Examples

Today we are going to learn about some special verbs in Japanese.

But why are they special?

These Japanese verbs are more specific when describing actions than English verbs. While learning Japanese, you will come across many verbs that may not have specific translations in English.

There are nouns that can be used with specific verbs only. Thus, making them special.

There might be several different verbs for the same action in Japanese, even though there is only one verb used for similar actions in English.

One of the examples is the verb “to wear.”

In English we say, “I wear a shirt,” “I wear a hat,” “I wear glasses” and so on.

However, Japanese has different verbs depending on which part of the body it will be worn on.

Sounds difficult? Don’t worry, it becomes easy once you start practicing!

Now, let’s take a look at these special Japanese verbs.

Japanese Special Verbs | Verbs Related to “To Wear”

Japanese Special Verbs | Verbs Related to “To Play”

Japanese Special Verbs | FAQ’s

Japanese Special Verbs | Verbs Related to “To Wear”

Kiru” is used for putting clothes on the upper body. So, these will include shirts, jackets and so on.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
シャツを着るシャツをきるShatsu o kiru.I wear a shirt.
上着を着るうわぎをきるUwagi o kiru.I wear a coat.

Haku” is used for putting clothes on the legs as well as for putting on footwear. So, these pairs will include pants, socks and so on.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
ズボンをはくZubon o haku.I wear pants.
靴を履くくつをはくKutsu o haku.I wear shoes.

Kaburu” is used for putting things on the head. This is what you will use as a verb for wearing a hat.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
帽子をかぶるぼうしをかぶるBōshi o kaburu.I wear a hat.

Kakeru” also means “to hang.” It could be used to mean that you hang something.

ExampleRomajiEnglish
めがねをかけるMegane o kakeru.I wear glasses.
コートをかける。Kōto o kakeru.I hang the coat.

Suru” has various usages. It can be used as “to wear” and can also be used for most sports.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
時計をするとけいをするTokei o suru.I wear a watch.
トランプをするToranpu o suru.I play cards.
野球をするやきゅうをするYakyuu o suru.I play baseball.

Tsukeru” also means “to attach” or “to put on.”

ExampleRomajiEnglish
イヤリングをつけるIyaringu o tsukeru.I wear earrings.
シートベルトをつけるShiito beruto o tsukeru.I put on a seat belt.

Shimeru” also means “to tie.” So these verb and noun pairs will include a tie, shoe lace and so on.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
ネクタイを締めるネクタイをしめるNekutai o shimeru.I wear a tie.
靴のひもを締めるくつのひもをしめるKutsu no himo o shimeru.I tie my shoe laces.

Maku” can mean “to wrap around.” It could be used for scarves or bandages.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
スカーフを巻くスカーフをまくSukaafu o maku.I wear a scarf.
包帯をまく。ほうたいをまく。Houtai o maku.To put on bandages.

Hameru” can mean “to insert.”

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
手袋をはめるてぶくろをはめるTebukuro o hameru.I wear gloves.
指輪をはめるゆびわをはめる。Yubiwa o hameru.I wear rings.

Japanese Special Verbs | Verbs Related to “To Play”

Asobu” originally means “to amuse oneself.”

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
おもちゃで遊ぶおもちゃであそぶOmocha de asobu.I play with toys.

Hiku” is used to play the musical instrument that requires the manipulation of fingers, that is, for stringed or keyboard instruments.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
ピアノを弾くピアノをひくPiano o hiku.I play the piano.
ギターを弾くギターをひくGitaa o hiku.I play the guitar.

Fuku” means “to blow,” and is used to play a musical instrument that requires blowing air.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
笛を吹くふえをふくFue o fuku.I play the flute.
トランペットを吹くトランペットをふくToranpetto o fuku.I play the trumpet.

Tataku” means “to hit,” and is used to play musical instruments that require beating or tapping, such as drums.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
太鼓をたたくたいこをたたくTaiko o tataku.I play the drums.
ドラムをたたくDoramu o tataku.I play the drums.
Note that drums in Japanese can be spoken and written in either Kanji or Katakana.

Enjiru” is used to play or perform a character in an act.

ExampleHiraganaRomajiEnglish
ロミオを演じる。ロミオをえんじる。Romio o enjiru.I play the role of Romeo.
重要な役を演じる。じゅうようなやくをえんじる。Jyuuyouna yaku o enjiru.I play an important role.

What we have learned today in this lesson are special pairs of nouns and verbs in Japanese. You’ll have to memorize these pairs to use them correctly, as there is a strong possibility of getting confused and making a mistake.

Even though they’re a bit tricky, 頑張ってね (がんばってね)!


You now know how to talk about special verbs in Japanese!

If you are just starting on your Japanese learning journey, make sure to check out the following lessons: 

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Japanese Plain Form

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are Japanese special verbs?

There are nouns that can be used with specific verbs only. Thus, making them special.

There might be several different verbs for same action in Japanese, even though there is only one verb used for similar actions in English.

How many different ways to say “to wear” are there in Japanese?

In this article we cover nine ways to say “to wear” in Japanese: きる、はく、かぶる、かける、まく、しめる、する、つける、and はめる。

Why does Japanese have so many different verbs to express one idea in English?

It’s a quirk of language; Japanese is simply more specific about, for example, expressing “to wear a hat” vs. “to wear a coat” vs. “to wear shoes” than English is.

How many different ways to say “to play” are there in Japanese?

In this article we cover five ways to say “to play” in Japanese: あそぶ、ひく、ふく、たたく、and えんじる。

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