Beginning Vocabulary: Verbs

This is a list of basic Japanese verbs, organized by topic. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Unless otherwise noted, all of the verbs on this page are used exactly like their given translations in English.

Recommended background:


All verbs here are in dictionary form. If you need a reminder on how to conjugate to masu form, here are the quick rules.

Instead of just marking verbs as transitive (taking an object) or intransive (not taking an object), I've explictily given the particles marking the objects of each verb, whether they be 'o', 'ni', or something else. Some verbs have a variety of possible particle configurations, in which case I've given the most common one. You can safely assume that every verb here also has a subject with the same thematic role as in the English translation.

In the English translations, parentheses are put around optional objects. Brackets are placed around prepositions and mandatory objects, except for direct objects, which are only marked if potentially unclear. Needless to say, in Japanese even "mandatory" objects can be dropped if clear from context.

Group II verbs are marked explicity; Group I and suru verbs are not. Remember that suru is irregular and all suru verbs follow the same conjugation pattern. There are also a number of set phrases on this list – for these, the particle is not optional.

Super Basic

Hiragana Romaji English
(~を)みる (II) (__ o) miru (II) to look [at], watch
(~を)きく (__ o) kiku to listen [to]
(~に)(~を)はなす (__ ni) (__ o) hanasu to talk; speak (a language) (to __)
(~に)(~と)いう1 (__ ni) (__ to) iu to say (to __) [that…]
(~を)よむ (__ o) yomu to read
(~を)かく (__ o) kaku to write
(~を)たべる (II) (__ o) taberu (II) to eat
(~を)のむ (__ o) nomu to drink

1The dictionary form of iu is pronounced yuu. All other forms are pronounced as written.

Daily Activities

Hiragana Romaji English
おきる (II) okiru (II) to wake up
ねる (II) neru (II) to go to sleep
しごとをする shigoto o suru to work
アルバイトをする1 arubaito o suru to work a part-time job
(~に)あう (__ ni) au to meet
(~と)あそぶ (__ to) asobu to play/hang out (with ___)
しゅくだいをする shukudai o suru to do homework
(~を)べんきょうする (__ o) benkyou suru to study

1Only students can arubaito o suru. From German "Arbeit"


Hiragana Romaji English
(ピアノ・ギターを)ひく1 (piano/gitaa) o hiku to play (literally "pluck") [piano/guitar]
ゲームをする2 geemu o suru to play video/computer games
どくしょをする dokusho o suru to read books
スポーツをする supootsu o suru to play sports
(~を)する (__ o) suru to do [sport/activity]

1Hiku is used for string instruments and piano. Fuku (to blow) is used for wind instruments, and tataku (to beat) for perucssion instruments.

2Terebi geemu means console video games, specifically.

Motion and Transportation

Hiragana Romaji English
(~に)いく1 (__ ni) iku to go (to…)
(~に)くる2 (__ ni) kuru to come (to…)
(~に)かえる (__ ni) kaeru to go home (to one's residence)
(~に)もどる (__ ni) modoru to return (to…)
あるく aruku to walk
はしる hashiru to run
およぐ oyogu to swim
(~に)のる (__ ni) noru to ride
(~を)うんてんする (__ o) unten suru to drive

1The te form of iku is not "iite", but itte. Otherwise, iku is a regular Group I verb.

2Kuru is an irregular verb.

Mental Verbs

Hiragana Romaji English
(~が)わかる1 wakaru to understand
(~を)しっている (II)2 shitte iru to know [person/fact]
(~と)おもう omou to think  [that…]
(~を)かんがえる (II)3 kangaeru (II) to think (=reason) [about]
(~を)しんぱいする shinpai suru to worry (about)
きをつける ki o tsukeru to pay attention

1This is not a typo – the object of wakaru is indeed marked by ga, as is the subject. There are very few verbs like this.

2Shitte iru is really the progressive form of shiru "to get to know" (Group I). There several verbs like this, and they will be covered in a future lesson.

3Kangaeru can also take the particle to, in which case the meaning is similar to omou, but implies that the subject reached their thought through logical reasoning.

See Also

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