If I'm right, all these forms modifies verbs , but when you look for them in japanese verbal tenses you dont find them. Why do they treat them differently to verbal tenses if japanese verbal tenses not only express time when an action happens, but also other things such as command, desire, etc. Are there more of these forms which arent listed as japanese verbal tenses?

  • Why was this downvoted? – istrasci Aug 31 '16 at 15:33

The word "tense" refers specifically to grammatical time (past, future etc.) -tai is not about time, so it's not a tense.

But I think what you mean is verbal "conjugation" or "inflection": the various forms a verb may take. Why isn't -taku an inflection? Well, what counts as "inflection" and what counts as a "verbal suffix" or "auxiliary" is kind of arbitrary, and depends on the grammar. I don't know which grammar are you using, so I don't know what are their criteria.

I'll use Japanese "school grammar" (the kind they teach to high-school kids) as an example. In Japanese school grammar, a verb has five basic inflections (活用形{かつようけい}), clearly visible by their different vowels in verbs like 書く:

  • 書か
  • 書き
  • 書く
  • 書け
  • 書こ

Why isn't kakitai considered an inflection? Because they reserve the world “inflection” (活用形) to mean those five basic forms, from which you can't escape (you have to choose one of them every time you use a verb). Things like -tai are called "verbal auxiliares" (or "auxiliary verbs"; 助動詞{じょどうし}), and each auxiliary selects one of the inflections above; for example, -tai wants the i-inflection (kaki-tai), while -nai prefers the a-inflection (kaka-nai). Here's one example of each:

  • 書か-ない (not write)
  • 書き-たい (want to write)
  • 書く-べき (must write)
  • 書け-ば (if write)
  • 書こ-う (let's write)

Compared to inflections (活用形), auxiliaries (助動詞) are optional, and there's a lot of them. For example, auxiliares using the -i inflection, besides -tai, include the following:

  • 書きたい "to want to write"
  • 書きます "to write" (polite)
  • 書きながら "while writing"
  • お書きする "to write" (humble)
  • お書きになる "to write" (honorific)
  • 書きけり "wrote!" (classical form)
  • 書きぬ "finished writing" (classical form)

Underlying all of them is the same basic 書き form; so it makes sense to have a separate name ("inflection") for the basic forms, and another ("auxiliaries") for the added-on plugins. The grammar you're using probably follows a similar rationale.

(A note for completeness' sake: some of the added-on suffixes may have their own inflections (書きたい、書きたかった、書きたくない;書かない、書かなかった、書かなくもない, …). Others, like ば in 書けば or ながら in 書きながら, never change (that is, they don't inflect). In school grammar, the latter are called 助詞{じょし} (usually translated as "particles"). But these verbal 助詞 otherwise work just like 助動詞, in that they're tacked on to the basic inflections.)


Because they aren't technically a verb form, most likely. Think about how they conjugate: ~たい is more like an "i-adjective" (whose negative form is ~たくない). Also, all the words you listed must be preceded by the masu-stem form (which often changes the word to a noun or other part of speech)


In this formula:

(1) Vstem-causitive-passive-aspect-desiderative-NEG-tense

たい == desiderative

たくない == desiderative-NEG

ながら == aspect ?

desiderative === (in Latin and other inflected languages) denoting a verb formed from another and expressing a desire to do the act denoted by the root verb (such as Latin esurire ‘want to eat,’ from edere ‘eat’).

Please see: Long & complicated verb forms? ( Vstem-causitive-passive-aspect-desiderative-NEG-tense ) 行かせられ続け得たくなかった (?)

Many of the Jp-related posts in the [Lingustics] SE are very advanced.

For example ----


(1) Vstem-causitive-passive-aspect-desiderative-NEG-tense

All the possibilities are not, of course, exploited in each expression, but the following illustrates some of the lengthy but commonly observed forms:

• 行かせられない 'go'-CAUS-POTEN-NEG-PRES

• 行かせられたくない 'go'-CAUS-PASS-DESI-NEG-PRES

• 歩かせ続けたい 'walk'-CAUS-CONT-DESI-PRES

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