Make mE a ます-stem master (Unit 5)

This is an important lecture because it covers the infamous ます-stem (masu-stem). We will use this in a vast array of grammatical patterns.

I know we're not worrying about mastering our conjugations just yet, but the earlier you learn how to put verbs into their ます-stem forms, the smoother your studies will be.

To form the ます-stem of a godan verb, we must change the final "-u" sound to an "-i" sound. Like this:

買う → 買い-(かう → かい-
行く → 行き-(いく → いき-
書く → 書き-(かく → かき-
脱ぐ → 脱ぎ-(ぬぐ → ぬぎ-
押す → 押し-(おす → おし-
立つ → 立ち-(たつ → たち-
死ぬ → 死に-(しぬ → しに-
遊ぶ → 遊び-(あそぶ → あそび-
飲む → 飲み-(のむ → のみ-
座る → 座り-(すわる → すわり-

As usual, we don't need to do anything to the stems of ichidan verbs:

食べる → 食べ-(たべる → たべ-
寝る → 寝-(ねる → ね-

Our Group III verbs change like this:

する → し-
来る → 来-(くる → き-

Master all of the stem changes listed above, and you will be able to say a lot of things in Japanese. In our cheat sheet, we list only a few of them:

~ます is the polite present/future form:

~ません is the negative polite present/future form:

~ ましょう is the polite volitional form:

~なさい is the hierarchical command form (e.g. what a teacher uses when commanding students to do something; what a parent uses when commanding a child to do something; etc.):


Here are some sentences:

きょう は はやく ねます。
I'm going to go to sleep early today (i.e. tonight).
Literally: “today + は + quickly / early + sleep.”

きょう は ねません!
I'm not going to sleep today!
Literally: “today + は + will not sleep!”

きょう は はやく ねましょう。
I think I'll go to sleep early today. // Let's go to sleep early today.
Literally: “today + は + quickly / early + let's sleep.”

はやく ねなさい。
Hurry up and go to sleep.
Literally: “quickly / early + sleep (=[command]).”

まいあさ パン を たべます。
I eat bread every morning.
Literally: “every morning + bread + を + eat.”

パン は たべません。
I don't eat bread.
Literally: “bread + は + do not eat.”

パン を たべましょう。
I think I'll eat bread. // Let's eat bread.
Literally: “bread + を + let's eat.”

パン を たべなさい。
Eat the bread.
Literally: “bread + を + eat (=[command]).”


We can even take things a step further and attach some other verb endings that pair up with ます-stems.

ます-stem + ~たい = want to VERB

パン たべたい!
I want to eat bread!
Literally: “bread + want to eat!”

I want to go.
Literally: “want to go.”


ます-stem + ~な = [casual suggestion]

Why don't eat (it)? // Eat (it).
Literally: "eat (=[casual suggestion])."

We can add よ to add a bit of emphasis:

いきな よ。
Why don't you go? // Come on, just go.
Literally: "go (=[casual suggestion]) + よ."


Well, what do you think? Do I have you convinced that mastering ます-stems is worth your while?

I hope so. In any case, you'll see it so often that you'll master it naturally over time.

Noticed any typos we've missed or other issues?
Report them here at this link.

Have questions about something in this lesson? Something not quite clicking yet? Join our discord community and discuss any questions / comments with us and fellow students.
You can join by heading to this link.