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I know a verb ending in 「ます」 has a 「く」form. For example: いきます-> いく. Can you do this with any verb, or are there some rules?

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    A little tip: use みなさん instead of みんなさん. For whatever reason, the word みんな normally has ん in it when used by itself, but not when followed by さん. Commented Mar 7 at 10:47
  • @KefSchecter sure, thanks!
    – magui
    Commented Mar 7 at 11:30

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First, you have it backwards: いく is the plain form of the verb, and いきます is a form that you create by following a rule.

The plain form happens to have く in this case, but that is not at all a rule. The plain forms of verbs end with a う sound, but it can be any う-row kana. (This is not "a consonant followed by う"; in the Japanese way of thinking about it, the consonants don't really exist separately, and a sound like く is indivisible.)

The rule that you first form a "stem" to which ます can be attached, and then you attach it. For [一段]{いちだん} verbs (this is some of the verbs that end in る), to make the stem, you simply drop the る. For [五段]{ごだん} verbs (this is almost everything else), the last kana must shift to the corresponding い-row kana: so う becomes い, く becomes き, す becomes し, etc. And yes, since some verbs ending in る are 五段, in this case it changes to り.

Thus:

  • [行]{い}く -> 行き + ます -> 行きます.

  • [見]{み}る -> 見 + ます -> 見ます.

  • [頑張]{がんば}る -> 頑張り + ます -> 頑張ります.

This ます form is considered to add politeness. Japanese study programs often teach it first, on the theory that it's better for students to be accidentally too polite than accidentally too casual. However, some instructors oppose this practice, believing that it impairs ready understanding of the Japanese verb conjugation system.

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    “The plain forms of verbs end with a う sound, but it can be any う-row kana” — no verb in modern Japanese ends with ず, ふ, ぷ, or ゆ.
    – F'x
    Commented Mar 8 at 6:56
  • @F'x indeed; and for ぬ the selection is very limited. But in principle the system would extend to these, and they would work the same way. Although I guess it isn't clear what the 音便形 would be. Commented Mar 18 at 1:41
  • Even if Japanese traditional grammarians try to think otherwise, in practice da and na are also verbs (resulting from contraction of de aru and naru).
    – Arfrever
    Commented May 9 at 23:35

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