Godan Verbs

by Morris Servaessen | 27 Feb 2023 Godan Verbs


Godan verbs are one of the three different verb types in the Japanese language.

The other two are Ichidan Verbs and Irregular Verbs.

Go refers to 'five' and dan refers to 'levels'.

They are also called group 1 verbs or u-verbs.

The five levels refer to the five different verb-stems that can get formed with these verbs.

Godan verbs can be recognized by looking at the last syllable of the dictionary form of a verb.

Does the verb ends with one of the following 9 syllables, then you have a godan verb.

These 9 syllables are:

う, る, く, ぐ, ぶ, ぬ, む, つ, す

Special attention should be given to the る-ending verb, this verb could be both a る-verb or a う-verb.

Hereby we show you an example verb for all 9 verb-endings.


  • 洗う【あらう】
  • 帰る【かえる】
  • 書く【かく】
  • 泳ぐ【およぐ】
  • 遊ぶ【あそぶ】
  • 死ぬ【しぬ】
  • 読む【よむ】
  • 立つ【たつ】
  • 話す【はなす】

When we are sure we are looking to a godan verb, we can now create the five different verb-stems.

As an example, we take the godan verb to drink 飲む【のむ】.

Then go to the hiragana-chart and select in the third column the verb-ending syllable .

Hiragana Chart
1 2 3 4 5

We can now create the five different verb-stems by jumping to the other 4 columns.

This means that the verb-ending syllable む changes to one of the syllables in the other columns.

We can do this for all 5 columns:

The five verb-stems:

  • Column 1: ➝ 飲む ➝ む ➝ ま ➝ 飲ま
  • Column 2: ➝ 飲む ➝ む ➝ み ➝ 飲み
  • Column 3: ➝ 飲む ➝ む ➝ む ➝ 飲む
  • Column 4: ➝ 飲む ➝ む ➝ め ➝ 飲め
  • Column 5: ➝ 飲む ➝ む ➝ も ➝ 飲も
Hiragana Chart
1 2 3 4 5

These 5 verb-stems are used to form different kind of verbs.

We do this by selecting the verb-stem and adding a suffix at the end.

To make this clear, we apply the verb-stems to the example godan verb to drink 飲む【のむ】as we showed you before.

Apply the five verb-stems:

  • 飲ま + ない ➝ 飲まない ➝ not eat (informal)
  • 飲み + ます ➝ 飲みます ➝ eat (formal)
  • 飲む + んですか ➝ 飲むんですか ➝ eat? (explanatory)
  • 飲め + ます ➝ 飲めます ➝ can eat (formal)
  • 飲も + う ➝ 飲もう ➝ let's eat (informal)