Learn the TE-form song

The TE-form in Japanese is very useful, not only to make requests (for e.g. 〜てください) but also to link sentences and change tenses of verbs. Once you master it, you can easily replace the て with た to get the past tense form called the 〜た form.

While there are several songs around the Internet and in textbooks, I’m sharing the one that has helped me learn it, and till this date I hum it when in doubt. The song is courtesy of my dear friend Soham.



Dictionary form endingTE-formSong in Rōmaji
う・つ・るってu tsu ru ~tte
む・ぶ・ぬんでmu bu nu ~nde
いてku ~ite
いでgu ~ide
くるきてkuru ~kite
するしてsuru ~shite
reigai ~itte
Note: 例外(れいがい) means “exceptions”.

The song is for the conjugation of Godan/Group I/u-verbs. You replace the ending Hiragana from the Dictionary form into the corresponding form as shown above.  Let us look at the て forms of a few example words from all the above types.

(to sing) 歌う うた ➔ うたって
(to stand) 立つ た ➔ たって
( to dance) 踊る おど ➔ おどって

(to drink) 飲む の ➔ のんで
(to play) 遊ぶ あそ ➔ あそんで
(to die) 死ぬ し ➔ しんで

(to hear) 聞く き ➔ きいて

(to swim) 泳ぐ およ ➔ およいで

(to come) くる ➔ きて
(to do) する ➔ して

There are however certain exceptions which do not follow the above rules, for e.g. as mentioned in the song: (to go)  ➔ って.

Now that you’ve mastered the above technique, let us learn how to conjugate for Ichidan/Group II/ru-verbs.

(to eat) 食べ たべ ➔ たべ
(to see)  見る る ➔ 
(to sleep) 寝る ね ➔ ね
(to wake up) 起きる おき ➔ おき

As you can see, there are no complex rules as before, and instead you simply drop the ending and replace with .

For a better understanding, you can check out the following video by Kanji-Link. I’d suggest you watch their other videos are well if you haven’t already, for other lessons on basic Japanese.


Awesome! You’ve mastered the て form. Guess what you do to get the た form?
That’s right, just replace the last て with a た. Note that we replace て with た but で with だ.

The た form indicates plain past.

歌う うたう ➔ うたった (Sang)
立つ たつ ➔ たった (Stood)
踊る おどる ➔ おどった (Danced)

飲む のむ ➔ のんだ (Drank)
遊ぶ あそぶ ➔ あそんだ (Played)
死ぬ しぬ ➔ しんだ (Died)

聞く きく ➔ きいた (Heard)

泳ぐ およぐ ➔ およいだ (Swam)

くる ➔ きだ (Came)
する ➔ しだ (Did)

ねる ➔ ねた (Slept)
おきる ➔ おきた (Woke)

Exception: 行く いく ➔ 行った (Went)


食べる たべる ➔ たべた (Ate)
見る みる ➔ みた (Saw)
寝る ねる ➔ ねた (Slept)
起きる おきる ➔ 起きた (Woke up)

Example sentences: 

Now that we’ve learnt them all, let’s look at their practical usage in sentences.

  1. ください。Please look.
    You can suffix ~てください・~でください to form a request.
  2. あさはんべている。I am having breakfast.
    You can use the ~ている・~でいる or ~ています・~でいます verb form for indicating Present Progressive tense or  to describe a habitual action and a condition.
  3. きて大学だいがくったI woke up at 6 and went to the university.
    You can use て form to connect two or more sentences, and suffix it to all but the last sentence in the series.
  4. テレビをもいいですか。May I watch television? 
    You can use the ~てもいいですか・~でもいいですか form to ask for permission.

That’s it for the てand た forms. For any questions, feel free to comment below.

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