According to Wiktionary, the only conjugation I can match this to is the conjunctive form, but that doesn't make any sense, given the context (as in "Help me!"). What would the equivalent conjugation of other verbs be here?

(Note: my background is perhaps equivalent to 1/2-year's worth of Japanese, gleaned through osmosis via animes and some books.)

  • 1
    That is correct. One also often hears 待って (wait!), 止めて (stop!), ...
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 7:12
  • @ZhenLin You're right, I've heard those as well. Why aren't they using the imperative form 止めろ instead (although I think I have also heard that before)? What is the difference between 止めろ and 止めて as interjections? Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 7:41
  • The imperative is considered too blunt/rude.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 7:44

1 Answer 1


Conjunctive form is just a label. It tells you about one of the most common uses of the -te form, but it's not a complete definition. Let's take a look at the relevant sense in 大辞林, a Japanese dictionary:


Translated, this says that it expresses a command or request, and that it can also take the forms てよ and てね. (In other words, this use of the -te form sometimes has the particles よ or ね after it.)

How does this make sense? Well, I was taught that this comes from either 〜てくれ or more politely 〜てください, with the くれ or ください omitted. So in this case, I think 助けて is a bit of a softer than the actual imperative form 助けろ.

  • I think that's poor input in 大辞林 to call 「てよ」 and 「てね」 their own forms. It's just the て form, often with よ・ね added for emphasis. I would not want the OP (who notes his experience with Japanese as very little) to think these are separate forms that have other common usages. It should say something like 「よ」、「ね」をつけて意を軽くすることもある.
    – istrasci
    Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 14:43

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