I've had two Japanese professors so far, and they have both split verbs into two groups for teaching English-speakers: they call godan verbs u-verbs and ichidan verbs ru-verbs. I never really liked these terms because, for one thing, a verb can end in -ru without being a -ru verb. The groups just seemed inconsistent, even though I knew what they were meant to represent. I always knew the verbs by godan, kami-ichidan, and shimo-ichidan because I came across the terms on my own. Do native Japanese speakers refer to verbs exclusively as godan/ichidan, or are those terms basically only known by linguists while most people use some other term to describe them? Is that how they are taught in schools/would any given native speaker know those terms?

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    五段/一段 are more like terms of school (=traditional) grammar. From pure linguistic standpoint I'd call them 子音幹/母音幹 (cons./vowel stem). Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 4:03

1 Answer 1


I'm from Japan and received Japanese education for 14 years. Yes. I think I remember being taught godan katsuyo as basic Japanese grammar class in elementary school -- around 5th or 6th grade. I don't remember ichidan, but when I did a quick Google search, I found many articles about that and reminded me it was a part of grammar we were taught. goadn katsuyo is probably well known among most of Japanese who completed at least 9 years education which should be 100%. But the rest may be forgotten. Like you said, unless you are linguists or Japanese language-major students, we hardly care about how our language should be explained.

  • Thanks a lot for the input. If, for example, you wanted to talk about ichidan and didn't remember what to call it, are there colloquial terms, or would you just kind of describe it?
    – Kurausukun
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 4:55
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    Perhaps, we say "irregular" or "something other than godan katsuyo." I'd simply describe like "godan janai yatsu." It's totally informal. We do not talk about our grammar among friends or even in business scenes unless you are in Japanese teaching/learning industry. My 2 cents, though.
    – Mari
    Commented Sep 19, 2016 at 13:16

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