Wild Nihongo!


て-Form Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: て-Form

Essential Meaning: ~ing / And… (Connects independent clauses or indicates an imperative)


  • Group 1 Verbs
    • す-Verbs: す becomes して
      • E.g. 話す = はなして [X speaks]
    • く-Verbs: く becomes いて
      • E.g 歩く = あるいて [X walks]
      • Exception: 行く = って [X goes]
    • ぐ-Verbs: ぐ becomes いで
      • E.g. 泳ぐ = およいで [X swims]
    • む / ぶ / ぬ-Verbs: む / ぶ / ぬ become んで
      • E.g 飲む = んで [X drinks]
      • E.g. 遊ぶ = あそんで [X plays]
      • E.g. 死ぬ = んで [X dies]
    • つ / う / る-Verbs: つ / う / る become って
      • E.g. 待つ = って [X waits]
      • E.g. 買う = って [X buys]
      • E.g. 取る = って [X takes]
  • Group 2 Verbs
    • る becomes て
      • E.g 食べる = べて [X eats]
  • Irregular Verbs
    • E.g. 来る = [X goes]
    • E.g. する = して [X does]
  • い-Adjectives
    • (い-Adjective Stem + い) becomes (い-Adjective Stem + くて)
      • E.g. 高い = たかくて [X is expensive]
  • な-Adjectives
    • (な-Adjective Stem) becomes (な-Adjective Stem + で)
      • E.g. 静か = しずかで [X is quiet]
  • Noun + Copula
    • (Noun + だ) becomes (Noun + で)
      • E.g. 先生だ = 先生せんせい [X is a teacher]


  • The て-Form is one of the most commonly used Japanese grammatical structures and serves a variety of functions. Primarily, the て-Form performs the following functions:
    • (1) Linking Independent Clauses
      • The て-Form can be used to connect two or more independent clauses into one conjoined sentence, just as the conjunction “And” does in English. て-Form clauses can use verbs, adjectives, or a Noun + Copula as predicates, and these parts of speech may intermingle within the same sentence.
        • E.g. エミーはうつくしくてあかるくてひと親切しんせつだ。[Amy is beautiful, cheerful, and kind to people.] This example conjoins three clauses with adjective predicates.
        • E.g. ワインをぎてあたまいたい。[I drank too much wine and I have a headache.] This example uses a verb in the first clause and an adjective in the second clause.
      • Note that the predicate of the final clause in the sentence indicates the overall tense of the sentence. If the final predicate is in the past tense, the entire sentence becomes past tense
        • E.g. 伊藤いと先生せんせい今週こんしゅう病気びょうきで、かわりに村田むらた先生せんせいおしえた。[Ito-sensei was sick this week, and Murata sensei taught in his place.]
      • The relationship between the conjoined clauses varies according to context, but the following are common:
        • (A) Clause 1 occurs sequentially before Clause 2
          • E.g. べてた。[I ate, and then I slept.]
        • (B) Clause 1 and Clause 2 represent two qualities or states of some thing
          • E.g. ステーキはやすくておいしいです。[The steak is cheap and delicious.]
        • (C) Clause 1 is the cause or reason for Clause 2. This is a particularly common usage of the て-Form
          • E.g. ワインをぎてあたまいたい。[I drank too much wine, so I have a headache.]
        • (D) Clause 2 is a means or manner by which someone does the action in clause 2
          • E.g. ケンはいそいでごはんべた。[Ken hurriedly ate his meal.]
          • E.g. ぼくあるいてかえった。[I went home on foot.]
        • (E) Clause 1 is contrasted with Clause 2
          • E.g. おとこそとはたらいて、女子じょしはうちではたらく。[Men work outside and women work inside.]
        • (F) Clause 2 is unexpected in the context of Clause 1
          • E.g. トムはいつもあそんでいてテストができる。[Tom is always goofing off, yet he does well on tests.]
    • (2) Indicating The Basic Imperative Voice
      • When used with a solitary clause, the bare て-Form is used to give a command. The polite version of the て-Form imperative is てください. Technically, ください is supposed to be used by an inferior when making a request of a superior, but in modern Japanese it is used for all sorts of polite requests regardless of status. Also keep in mind that there are other imperative markers such as なさい and .
        • E.g. だまって。[Shut up.]
        • E.g. いそいで。[Hurry up.]
        • E.g. て。[Come here.]
        • E.g. てください。[Come here, please.]
    • (3) Grammatical Building Block
      • The て-Form is used to create a variety of grammatical structures and idiomatic expressions. For example, auxiliary verbs such as ている, てみる, and ておく and expressions such as てから and てはいけない (among many others) connect to the て-Form. Therefore, understanding the て-Form is a prerequisite for understanding many useful Japanese expressions.

Example Sentences:

ジムは日本にほんって勉強べんきょうした。[Jim went to Japan and studied.]

ここのステーキはやすくておいしい。[This place’s steak is cheap and delicious.]

このアパートはしずかでいいです。[This apartment is quiet and good.]

わたしちち先生せんせい高校こうこう英語えいごおしえている。[My father is a teacher, and he teaches English at a high school.]

わたしはコートをいでハンガーにかけた。[I took off my coat and hung it on a hanger.]

ワインをぎてあたまいたい。[I drank too much wine and I have a headache.]

わたし部屋へやせまくてくらい。[My room is narrow and dark.]

このスープはからくてめない。[This soup is so spicy, and I can’t drink it.]

わたしはテニスがだいきでよく友達ともだちとする。[I love to play tennis, and I often play with my friends.]

クリスはいま大学だいがく三年さんねん専攻せんこう日本文学にほんぶんがくです。[Right now Chris is a 3rd year university student, and her major is Japanese literature.]

伊藤いと先生せんせい今週こんしゅう病気びょうきで、かわりに村田むらた先生せんせいおしえた。[Ito sensei was sick this week, and Murata- sensei taught in his place.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line from 3:05: そのばん青虫あおむしはおなかいたくてきました [That night, the caterpillar’s stomach hurt, and it cried]
This song begins with the following line: ごめんね、素直すなおじゃなくてゆめなかならえる [I’m sorry I’m not upfront, I am able to say it within dreams]
The following line repeats throughout this song: アブラハムには七人しちにん一人ひとりはのっぽあとはちび [Along with Abraham are seven children, One of them is tall and the rest are short] This is an example of the て-Form of the copula だ.
Listen to this line from 0:16: 布団ふとんあたたかくて布団ふとんやわらかい [My futon is warm, my futon is soft]
This song begins with the following line: こっちっち、こっちしい [Look! Look! Over here! I want you to look over here!] This is an example of the basic imperative て-Form. There is also an instance here of the て-Form as a grammatical building block with the auxiliary adjective てほしい.

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