Japanese: Polite Form (masu – ます) Verb Conjugation

Japanese: Polite Form (masu – ます) Verb Conjugation

When speaking in formal situations (i.e. speaking publicly, talking to a superior, older person. etc.) the use of the polite form, as opposed to the casual, is always the best choice. The following roadmap will guide you through the process of conjugating Japanese verbs into their polite form.

The devil is in the details

When it comes to grammar, the devil is always in the details. If you want to know why, and in it what situations, this is used, I highly recommend Tae-Kim’s Guide to Grammar. In this post I will assume you know all about the polite form, and are looking for a simple guide to polite form verb conjugation.

Polite Form (masu – ます) Verb Conjugation Map

 Polite Form Verb Conjugation


How to Use the Map

To use this map to conjugate a verb you should first use the verb group map to identify which group the verb is in, and follow the flow transformation for that group.


Let’s say you are talking with your boss, and you want to tell her that you’re going to head back home. so you say:

うち に かえる

Literal translation: Home to return.

Since you’re talking to you boss, superior, the verb to return needs to be put into the polite form. To conjugate かえる you can use the map as follows:

  • Find the verb group for かえる using the verb group map. In this case かえる is in Group 1 (exception).
  • Follow the flow conversion flow diagram for Group 1, which results in る being converted to り.
  • Finally add the appropriate tense. In this case we are presently returning home so ます is the correct tense.


The final result of our conjugation of かえる is かえり+ます.

うち に かえります

That’s it!

As per usual, you can find the pdf for this map here.

Good luck with your ongoing study of Japanese!


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