皆様、こんにちにゃあぁ！Welcome to Kiki+Koko: Let’s NihonGO!! Online. And, your journey has only just begun. Japanese language is like a winding forest full of grammar, vocabulary, and even culture. And through this forest, there are places that some may find more challenging to traverse, and others that may feel like a walk through a garden. Either way, together, these elements create a beautiful landscape that grows with appreciation with the ability to travel it. And, we’re your guides on this journey, Kiki and Koko, here to help you every step of the way. Previously, we presented to you how to conjugate the basic polite マス形, masukei, otherwise known as masu form into past tense, which proves to be very useful. However, this skill heavily relies on whether or not you could properly conjugate into マス形, masukei, in the first place. Though, never fear, we’re always here to be sure you’re led down a path that allows you to get all of the instructions you require to continue. And, in this case, there are two other important skills that are directly tied to this skill. Whilst it’s important to be able to say what you’ve done in the past, it’s also vital to be able to express what you haven’t done. And, in order to do this, you have to be able to say what you don’t do. Whether it’s exclaiming that you didn’t eat the last of the biscuits or that cats don’t dance, this skill with these linguistic tools will make a lovely addition to your Japanese Language Survival Kit.
Usually, with the previous lessons, we would provide a practice opportunity, but in this case, we felt it made the most sense to provide you with a little more information so that you could really feel as though the practice would be more of a challenge. Likewise, the skills used for each of these マス形 conjugations are extremely similar. But, again, in order to understand even the previous lesson, you’ll need to be sure you have a grasp on the previous skills we’ve presented. In a perfect world, it would be best if you had a look at our lessons from the beginning, as they build upon one another to not only lead you down a path, but also to assist you with applying that certain mindset throughout this. Japanese linguistically functions verb different to English and most other languages, and it helps learners tremendously to be able to throw out the expectations that come from adapting it to their native language, and simply starting from their ABC’s, or in this case, their いろは, and building their knowledge of the language from the base upwards. But, of course, you may be very eager to simply glean some knowledge from this current lesson, or just use it as a quick reference to return to study. This is why we’ve simply compiled a few lessons that will help you build a bit of a raft to make your way over to this point, even if you don’t have all of the tools to survive quite yet.
However, simply understanding verbs alone isn’t quite the whole of it. You’ll need a bit of an understanding of Japanese grammar in general. Maybe you’re not even quite sure how to make a sentence or why ‘particle’ in this case doesn’t have anything to do with a hadron collider. That’s why we’re offering a round trip to the past whilst we wait for you here in the present tense.
Yay! You’ve returned to us after a long and arduous journey, gathering the previous tools for this excursion! Or perhaps you’ve just scrolled down a bit? Maybe you’ve already learnt those, or you’ve already revised a bit for one day. Either way, it’s time to travel to the past once more, or at least teach you how to express it. This will be a general how-to, but we’ll also explain a few things along the way to assist you further. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it! Let’s NihonGO!!
Negative Form of Masu Form | マス形の否定形
If you find conjugating 辞書形, jishokei, dictionary form, into マス形, masukei, masu form, to be an enjoyable experience, then making it into 否定形, hiteikei, a negative form, should ironically be a positive experience. Now, we want to be clear before we continue that this is not the only type of negative form verb you’ll run into. Learning to conjugate the equally important 辞書形, jishokei, dictionary form, into their 否定形, hiteikei, a negative form, is objectively a bit more challenging for new language learners. But, no worries, that’s why we’re starting you off with something that makes a bit more sense, is much more consistent, and applies your knowledge from the previous lessons so that you not only learn a new skill, but practise another one that will remain important. (This also includes being sure to continue practising identifying the verb endings and class of verb, as that will prove to be a tool you’ll utilise more than you’ll ever know.) However, this time, this experience should hopefully be a simpler instructional one that you can immediately apply to your everyday Japanese verbs. Let’s begin with a bit of an example and go from there:
Let’s say you’re starting with a verb that’s already in マス形, masukei:
(speak(s)→ does not speak)
Alrighty, so just having a look at this, for anyone who had a go with our previous lesson concerning past tense masu form verbs should already have the gears turning in their head, realising that this feels very similar. And, it really is! When it comes to masu form, turning it into past tense or negative form both follow the same way of thinking, and the same steps. As with the previous lesson, there are two ways to look at this, though, honestly, the second way might not be as useful, especially if you find the first way simple enough. The first way was literally taking away the ます ending and then replacing it with the ません ending to make it negative. It doesn’t feel transformative, rather simply like placing different endings onto the base conjunctive form that you may already know and love. But, some people find another thought process to be easier, though the first is really the main way people think of it:
ま す→ はなしま＋せん→はなしません。
In this case, it feels a bit more strange to teachers, but there are students who feel this clicks in their mind more easily, but in this case it may feel more like you’re taking the ending of the verb and you’re changing end 「す」 , then you’re transforming it into 「せん」which doesn’t necessarily hold any other benefits, but sometimes the simplicity of it can assist if you’re already working with a ます ending. This may be a bit more difficult to mentally suss out if you’re working directly from 辞書形, jishokei, dictionary form. But, it’s not always for us to tell you what works best in your mind~! We’re just here to give you tools to suss it out whatever way feels best for you, as long as you get the same outcome.
But, then again, there’s an even simpler way to think of this if you’re already comfortable with 連用形, ren’youkei, conjunctive form. And, that whittles this down to two steps once you’ve reached conjunctive form, which is explained in the マス形とは？｜What is Masu form? lesson along with verb stems intro| identifying verb types & stems. Though there are more steps to reach conjunctive form, this can still mentally help you when you’re thinking aloud and eventually speak more naturally. You just use the conjunctive form and add the ending:
Now, in all of this, you can take away something very important when it comes to all masu-form verbs. When you head the 「ません」you’ll know it’s negative. Then again, of course, there’s so many more endings including archaic endings that are used to this day. But, you’ll at least have a grasp on the first. Though, having a few examples couldn’t hurt anyone, so we’ll provide a few for you to see how it universally works in the same way when it comes to it already being in ます form, not the steps before that:
And, there we are! Hopefully that provides a bit of context to get the pattern more familiar in your mind. But, what about the past tense of this? Well, friends, this is an interesting one where we’ll have to enlist our magical copula to help out.
Negative Masu Form’s Past Tense | マス形の過去形
(+ Desu past tense [again]|「です」の過去形 [もう一回])
Now that you have an instructional on how to make a past tense masu verb, it’s time to suss out its past tense. This is very different to how one would treat 辞書形, jishokei, dictionary form, but for all intents and purposes, we’ll save that in our bags for later. For now, we’ll just focus on you, us, and a negative form masu form verb that happened in the past. And, luckily, once you already know how to make it negative, there’s not much else you have to do! However, we’ll guide you through it in two different scenarios in case you’re starting off with a masu form verb or a masu verb that is already negative. Let’s have a look:
(speak(s)→ did not speak)
Oh, yes, so as simply as you can stick a decal on a laptop, you can add でした to a verb with ません at the end to make it past tense. Now, we want to warn you that each time we mention a type of conjugation that it’s only applying to the specific cases we mention. Such as, when we mentioned how でした can be used with nouns, but can’t be used with past tense イ形容詞, i keiyoushi, or い verbs, you can’t simply add this to the end of ます to create a past tense verb. ます becomes ました and ません becomes ませんでした。As long as you remember that, you should be able to keep things organised in your notes and your mind. However, it’s important to be able to think out this process from other points of view as well, such as if you’re starting with a ます ending or a conjunctive form and you want it to become negative past tense, with its basic polite tone.
masu→ hanashi＋masen deshita→hanashimasen deshita。
(speak(s)→ did not speak)
And, with that, even though these apply consistently throughout, we’re going to give a bit of a transitional example just to have it pictured in your mind spelled out on the digital paper:
Wow-wow, we covered two different conjugations in this one go for you. Hopefully, this served as a useful introduction to the topic for you. But, even still, learning a skill takes time and patience, and just one glance isn’t enough for most to memorise these ideas and have the concepts feel natural. It’s important to return to previous lessons and practise the ideas. But, no worries, though these lessons should be useful reference enough for most, we want to take it a bit further, as always, and we’ll provide more practice opportunities in future. With these three to four different ways of using just one verb, using several other skills to conjugate them initially, there are so many other skills you’ll be able to strengthen just by focusing on these. And, we’ll be spotting you whilst you continue your training!
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