I took up an interest in Japanese and I have to say I'm enjoying the language overall.

I've been reading online resources and have no problem with normal Godan or Ichidan verbs since they have rules you can follow.

However when I look up verbs in the dictionary such as cooking, painting, etc:

[料理]{りょうり}, [絵]{え}

None of the online resources I've found tell you how to deal with these. There are a lot of words that don't end like the regular verbs.

What do I need to learn to to begin forming sentences like

  • Do you cook?

  • Are you cooking?

  • I did ask "what" I needed to learn to be able to form sentences with the examples shown. So there was room to explain there what I needed to know to form such sentences :)
    – Tek
    Mar 7, 2014 at 13:46
  • 1
    This confusion might have been caused by looking up "cooking", "painting", etc. Try looking up the infinitive "to cook", "to paint", since that's how verbs are listed in dictionaries.
    – waldrumpus
    Mar 7, 2014 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


There is a class of verbs, sometimes called suru-verbs, which are formed from a noun + the verb する, e.g.

[料理]{りょうり}する = to cook


Do you cook?

Are you cooking?

To learn how to form simple sentences like this, you need to know how to form questions and how to look up word in a dictionary:

The second word you looked up is the gerund "painting" of the verb "to paint", but "painting" is not really a verb anymore. 絵 doesn't mean "to paint" (not even with する appended), but means a picture (or painting).

"to draw a picture" is in fact 絵{え}を描{か}く.

To look up verbs in a dictionary, I suggest not to look for the gerund (e.g. cooking, painting, ...), but for the infinitive (e.g. to cook, to paint, ...) to avoid confusion.

  • 料理する or 料理をする. other examples - 電話(denwa)する or 電話をする, 写真(syashin)を撮る(toru), 話す(hanasu) or 会話(kaiwa)をする
    – user4688
    Mar 7, 2014 at 15:05
  • @noel_lapin so does 電話(denwa)する = Telephoning/calling or does it = speaking on the telephone?
    – Escoce
    Feb 20, 2018 at 16:00

料理 and 絵 aren't verbs. They're nouns. Your dictionary should say so.

In the case of 料理, you can add する to make 料理する, which means "to prepare food". (It doesn't necessarily mean to heat it up, though, so it might not be exactly the same as English "cook".)

In the case of 絵, you can use the phrase 絵を描{か}く. (Although this is one way to say "to paint a picture", more generally it can mean "to draw a picture", not just with paints.)

You might consider picking up an English-Japanese dictionary designed for beginners. For example, Kodansha's Basic English-Japanese Dictionary has only a fairly basic set of vocabulary, but it describes how to use it and gives examples for every entry.

As for forming basic sentences like "Do you cook?" and "Are you cooking?", you would probably be better served by taking a class, working through a textbook or going through an online introduction to Japanese. You won't learn the basics you need to know from dictionaries.

  • Thank you for the beginner dictionary recommendation, I will pick it up! Although courses do help, I've found it helps with the words they teach you but not new ones they don't mention. That is why I asked this question, I wanted to know what to do when it comes to new words I learn.
    – Tek
    Mar 7, 2014 at 13:52
  • @Tek: courses/textbooks may not teach you some specific words, but they will teach you how to use the words (e.g. how to ask questions). Mar 7, 2014 at 19:24
  • I know, I just made the connection that the words I wrote about fall mostly under "irregular verb" which the resources I've looked at mentioned. However there weren't many examples so that's probably why I was confused at first.
    – Tek
    Mar 7, 2014 at 19:48

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