What is the difference between 終止形 and 連体形 and which one is the correct term for the dictionary form?

The Japanese Grammar Wiki entry says...

Terminal form (終止形 shūshikei) -u is used at the ends of clauses in predicate positions. This form is also variously known as plain form (基本形 kihonkei) or dictionary form (辞書形 jishokei) – it is the form that verbs are listed under in a dictionary.

This is backed up by my teacher who described it as the dictionary form, 辞書形。The wiki describes the 連体形 form as practically identical (I don't quite understand the difference) and my teacher said the 連体形 form is 名詞にかかる形。

However I've seen a number of posts describing the 連体形 as the dictionary form omitting to refer to the 終止形 form at all.

Can anyone clear this up for me? An explanation / example of the purpose of the 連体形 form would greatly help.



2 Answers 2


In modern Japanese, the rentaikei and shuushikei of verbs are the same, but not for e.g. na-adjectives, where rentaikei is e.g. 変な, but shuushikei is 変だ. Even for i-adjectives, the slightly archaic rentaikei e.g. 赤き is sometimes used instead of 赤い, mostly for stylistic reasons.

  • Thanks very much, that explained it very well. I was reading around the subject but now I've read your explanation it falls into place. Jan 23, 2012 at 19:22
  • @dainichi, How do we use the archaic rentaikei? Do you have an example?
    – Pacerier
    Jan 31, 2014 at 17:05

Adapted from my answer to a previous question

終止形 and 連体形:

手紙はペンで書く (Write a letter with a pen)
書く is in 終止形 or "sentence ending form" or "predicative form"

ペンで書く手紙 (A pen-written letter)
書く is in 連体形 or "attributive form"

What the attributive form does is it attributes the action to the noun.

  • Thanks, this is also very helpful as I would not really have known what the attributive form is to be honest. Jan 23, 2012 at 19:25
  • This is the better answer IMO. I understood it better than the accepted answer.
    – Tek
    Jan 18, 2017 at 7:37

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