How to connect two verbs in Japanese

Speaking Japanese requires your brain to work the other way around as it would for example when talking in English. At least that is what I thought when I started to learn this fascinating language. Later on I realized that it is not about the order how you make the sentences. To make it short, these days I had to conclude that Japanese grammar and English grammar don’t really have similarities. When I tried to learn by myself, obviously I got curious about the word “AND”. If you try to search for “and” in a Japanese-English dictionary I am pretty sure you will find something different, or something that you cannot just simply put between two verbs in order to connect them.

Since the te-form(て形) always ends in て, which is a high-vowel hiragana, it keeps the partner’s attention

This is what makes Japanese difficult to study. Sometimes you would like to express something, but there is no exact equivalent for that. This happens when you need to connect two Japanese verbs.

Now let’s see the solution. You might remember that I have already explained the so-called “te-form(て形)” of the verbs. For that you need to know how to classify Japanese verbs into groups. If you are not familiar with that, I highly recommend you to read my previous article and do my free online test.

Let me reiterate the rules of the te-form(て形):

  • Rule for group 1: You need to change the final hiragana based on the following list:
  • る、う、つ ー> って
  • む、ぶ、ぬ ー> んで
  • ぐ ー> いで
  • す ー> して
  • く  ー> いて
  • Rule for group 2: You need to replace 'る' with 'て' at the end of the verb
  • Rule for group 3:
  • する ー して
  • 来る (くる) ー 来て (きて)

The “te-form(て形)” can be used to make a polite request in Japanese. But this is not the only case. The te-form(て形) can also be used to construct different grammatical structures and this is what you need if you would like to connect two verbs in Japanese. In case you connect the verbs using their te-form(て形), you will get a compound that’s the same as two verbs plus “AND” in English.

A couple of connected Japanese verbs:

  • 乗(の)って来(く)る
  • To get on (the train, etc…) and come.
  • 持(も)って来(く)る
  • To hold it and come. E.g.: I bring it.
  • 食(た)べて行(い)く
  • To eat and go.
  • 連(つ)れて行く
  • To bring him / her and go. (To take someone along.)
  • ついていく
  • To follow and go.

Let’s see three simple sentences:

  • 先生(せんせい)はタバコを吸(す)って来る。
  • The teacher smokes and comes.
  • 子供(こども)は転(こ)けて泣(な)く 。
  • The kid falls and cries.
  • 歌手(かしゅ)は歌(うた)って喜(よろこ)ぶ。
  • The singer sings and (is) happy.
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According to the examples above the te-form(て形) of a verb can connect it to another one, which therefore has the same function in this case as the English “and”. Since the te-form(て形) always ends in て, which is a high-vowel hiragana, it keeps the partner’s attention and also implies that the sentence will be continued. It is absolutely correct to use the te-form(て形) to connect two verbs in Japanese in various situations. However there are cases when you need to be more polite than usual. It is said that the te-form(て形) might be insufficient when you are writing a business email, a motivation letter, a research plan or something very official in Japanese.

The “official” way to connect two verbs in Japanese:

Let’s suppose you are writing to your superior. In this case I don’t advise you to use the te-form(て形) in order to connect two verbs. You will need the so called “masu-form(ます形)” of the verbs in this situation. I have already explained the conjugation rules of the “masu-form(ます形)” in a previous article, but for the sake of clarity, let me show you the rules again:

  • Rule for group 1: You can create the "masu" form of a group 1 type Japanese verb, by changing it's final hiragana into an "i" sound equivalent and then attaching "ます" to it.

What do I mean by saying "i sound equivalent"?

  • る ー り
  • む ー み
  • ぬ ー に
  • つ ー ち
  • す ー し
  • く ー き
  • う ー い
  • Rule 2: You just simply need to replace "る" by "ます"
  • Rule 3:
  • する ー します
  • 来る (くる) ー 来ます (きます)

If you already know how to create the masu-form(ます形) of a Japanese verb, you can simply connect them by omitting the ます.

Finally let’s see some examples, but now in a more official form: