How to Make the ‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs

Have you ever wanted to express an ongoing action in Japanese? What about one action occurring after another one?

The Japanese Te form of verbs can accomplish both of these uses!

As you might already know, the て-form (te-form) of Japanese verbs is multifunctional. 

As its main usage, the ‘te’ form is the Japanese present progressive. 

Basically, it is known as the ‘te’ form because you change the verbs to end with the Japanese ‘te’ (て) or ‘nde’ (んで). We’ll teach you how to convert it in ‘te’ form in a moment.

‘Te’ form is used to turn a verb into “-ing” form, like this:

食べる → 食べて (taberu → tabete) “I eat” / “I will eat” → “I’m eating”

Japanese Te Form

Japanese has the same verb form for the future tense and the present tense, as well as general statements. So, it can be a bit confusing as to whether you mean “I eat (right now)” or “I will eat (in the future).” 

That’s what you understand by using ‘te’ form. Isn’t it so powerful?

The ‘Te’ form makes it crystal clear that an action is not in the future, but an action you’re working on at this moment.

‘Te’ form can also be used with different tenses. Just combine it with other verbs to create other verb tenses. 

For Example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiMeaning
その本を読んでいた。 そのほんをよんでいた。Sono hon wo yonde ita.I had been reading the book. 

Okay, now you understand its importance. But how do you make it?

Today we are going to teach you how to make this て-form (‘te’ form).

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | Group 1 Verbs

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | Group 2 Verbs

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | Group 3 Verbs

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | Using the ‘Te’ Form to Connect Sentences

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | FAQ’s

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | Group 1 Verbs

As we have learned, group 1 verbs come with various endings.

These are う (u)、つ (tsu)、る (ru)、ぬ (nu)、ぶ (bu)、む (mu)、く (ku)、ぐ (gu)、and す (su)。

‘Te’ form changes these endings of verbs.

Let’s see what to replace these endings with!

Exception!!

Here are some examples:

Dictionary FormMeaning‘Te’ Form
あるExist (Thing)あって
かかるHang/Takeかかって
よむReadよんで
かうBuyかって
きくListen/Askきいて
あそぶPlayあそんで
はなすSpeak/Talkはなして
まつWaitまって
およぐSwimおよいで
しぬDieしんで

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | Group 2 Verbs

‘Te’ form for Group 2 and Group 3 verbs is very easy.

Group 2 verbs always end with the word る (ru). So, you just need to replace る (ru) with て (te).

Take a look at some examples:

Dictionary FormMeaning‘Te’ Form
いるExist (Human/Animal)いて
たべるEatたべて
みるSeeみて
ねるGo to Bedねて
おきるWake Up/Rise/Happenおきて

‘Te’ Form of Japanese Verbs | Group 3 Verbs

There are only two Group 3 verbs! So remembering the ‘te’ form of these verbs won’t be a problem for you.

The te-form of する (suru) is して (shite) and the te-form of くる (kuru) is きて (kite).

Examples:

Dictionary FormMeaning‘Te’ Form
するDo/Execute/Playして
くるCome/Arriveきて
べんきょうするStudyべんきょうして
さんぽするWalk/Strollさんぽして

Using the て Form to Connect Sentences

Another way you can use the ‘te’ form is to connect verb sentences.

When two or more actions take place in order, the actions are mentioned in the sequence by using the te-form. 

It is kind of similar to the function of the English word “then”.

Here, no past tense is used for ‘te’ form. 

The tense of the sentence is determined by the tense form of the last verb in the sentence.

For example:

ExampleHiraganaRomajiMeaning
朝パンを食べて、コーヒーを飲んで、会社へ行きました。あさパンをたべて、コーヒーをのんで、かいしゃへいきます。Asa pan wo tabete, ko-hi- wo nonde, kaisha e ikimashita.In the morning, I ate bread, drank coffee and went to my workplace.

You will have to use this form regularly and at various places. It also has importance in different grammar patterns.

So keep practicing till you can use it fluently in conversations.

頑張って (がんばって)!!

This means good luck!

And that’s it, an introduction to the Japanese Te form

Not so daunting, right?

Don’t forget to also check these lessons if you want to take your Japanese level a bit further, or if you need to brush up on your skills:

Have you ever considered joining an online class with a professional teacher?

With Flexi Classes you can study Japanese 24/7 with professional teachers, and even choose your study time and study topic!

Start today with a 3 hour free trial.

Japanese adverbs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the Japanese Te form used for?

It has multiple uses, from connecting actions to indicating an ongoing action.

How do I make the ‘te’ form for う、つ、or る verbs?

For group 1 verbs which end up with the words う (u), つ (tsu) or る (ru), replace these words with って (tte)

How do I make the ‘te’ form for ぬ、ぶ、or む verbs?

For verbs which end up with the words ぬ (nu), ぶ (bu) or む (mu), replace the words with んで (nde).

How do I make the ‘te’ form for く verbs?

For group 1 verbs which end up with the word く (ku), change the word to いて (ite)

How do I make the ‘te’ form for ぐ verbs?

For those which end up with the word ぐ (gu), change it to いで (ide)

How do I make the ‘te’ form for Group 2 る verbs?

Group 2 verbs always end with the word る (ru). So, you just need to replace る (ru) with て (te).

Other links

Ask us a question!
  • LTL Avatar Irene Magnosi
    Irene Magnosi , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Language School!

    How can I help you?