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.

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