2

I've learned that ru verbs should drop る and replace it with た.

But 入る becomes 入った and I'm not sure why.

The same goes for

  • 食べる → 食べた
  • しゃべる → しゃべた

Are these irregulars or am I misunderstanding something?

  • Note that しゃべる is a godan verb, and the past しゃべった and conjunctive しゃべって both have geminate (doubled) "t" consonants. – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 21 '18 at 21:23
10

tl;dr

入る hairu is a consonant-stem verb, i.e. hair·u.

Long version

Besides a handful of exceptions, there are two type of verbs

  • vowel-stem verbs (-e·ru, -i·ru)
  • consonant-stem verbs (-k·u, -g·u, -s·u, -t·u, -n·u, -(w)·u, -m·u, -r·u)

where I have used an interpunct · to separate the stem from the ending (and the hyphen - means there is more coming before it).

These types follow different inflection patterns.

Of course there are no pure consonants in kana, so written in kana you cannot show where the border between stem and ending is — for example a verb ending in ~く may inflect to ~か (as in 聞 → 聞ない), but written as above, the stem ending in -k does not change (kik·ukik·anai). (This is why it is called the stem. And the stem of vowel-stem/consonant-stem verbs end in a vowel/consonant, respectively.)

Now, seeing a verb written in kana, there is no way of telling whether a verb ending in -eru / -iru is a vowel-stem verb or a consonant stem verb, i.e. whether it is -e·ru / -i·ru or -er·u / -ir·u.

The following vowel-stem–consonant-stem verb pairs show that this difference simply has to be learned:

  • 着る ki·ru ↔ 切る kir·u
  • 変える kae·ru ↔ 帰る kaer·u

In particular, their past tenses are different

  • 着た kita ↔ 切った kitta
  • 変えた kaeta ↔ 帰った kaetta

Now, 入る is hair·u (i.e. a consonant-stem verb), so its past tense follows the same pattern as 切る, giving 入った.

However, the way the verb is written in kanji gives some way of guessing whether it is vowel-stem or consonant-stem. As a rule of thumb (for verbs of three or more morae), if the -i or -e is part of the kanji, then a verb is more likely to be consonant-stem.

In particular, since はいる is a three mora verb, written 入る rather than *入いる, it is more likely to be consonant-stem. The rule also correctly identifies 食べる as a vowel-stem verb (→ 食べた) and 喋る【しゃべる】 as a consonant-stem verb (→ 喋た).

  • 1
    Jinx! :) ....... – Eiríkr Útlendi Aug 21 '18 at 21:25
  • 1
    @EiríkrÚtlendi ハッピーアイスクリームお返しなし! =) – Earthliŋ Aug 21 '18 at 21:28
  • 1
    Thanks for the explanation! Although @EiríkrÚtlendi his answer was very clear as well, I found your's just a bit easier to understand. But thanks to both of you. – Raymond de la Croix Aug 22 '18 at 6:26
7

The name "ru verb" is misleading.

This does not mean that every verb ending in -ru conjugates the same way.

Certain verbs end in -ru, and that final -ru disappears in entirety when conjugating. These are called 一段活用 (ichidan katsuyō, literally "monograde conjugation" or "one-step conjugation") verbs in Japanese grammars, because there is only one vowel on the end of the verb stem (either -i or -e). These are often labeled as "type 2" verbs in English texts about Japanese grammar.

One everyday example is 食べる (taberu, "to eat"), where that final -ru just disappears entirely in conjugated forms:

  • taberu "[I / he / she / they] eat", plain informal
  • tabenai "[I / he / she / they] don't / doesn't eat", plain negative
  • tabemasu "[I / he / she / they] eat", polite
  • tabesaseru "[I / he / she / they] make someone eat", plain causative

... etc. As you can see here, the -ru vanishes entirely in the conjugated forms.

Other verbs end in -ru or -ku or -su, etc., and that final piece doesn't quite vanish entirely -- the consonant remains, but the vowel changes. These are called 五段活用 (godan katsuyō, literally "quintigrade conjugation" or "five-step conjugation") verbs in Japanese grammars, because there are five different possible vowels on the end of the verb stem (-a, -i, -u, -e, -o). These are often labeled as "type 1" verbs in English texts about Japanese grammar.

One everyday example with -ru is 入る (hairu, "to enter, to go into"), where that final -ru doesn't disappear entirely, and only the vowel changes:

  • hairu "[I / he / she / they] enter", plain informal
  • hairanai "[I / he / she / they] don't / doesn't enter", plain negative
  • hairimasu "[I / he / she / they] enter", polite
  • hairaseru "[I / he / she / they] make someone enter", plain causative

As you can see here, the -r- sticks around, and the vowel changes.

Things ultimately get a bit more complicated than this (such as the conjunctive forms and plain past forms, where you often get geminate [i.e. doubled] consonants instead of the final consonant, as in haitta), but that's the basic framework. There's good information on Wikipedia, at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_verb_conjugation.

3

The rule for '-ru' (ichidan) verbs and '-u' (godan) verbs is 'anything ending in '-iru' or '-eru' can be a '-ru' verb. But 入る and しゃべる are not; they are '-u' verbs that conjugate as you would expect.

  • Thanks for the answer. I guess I missed that they can be godan. Would they count as irregulars? Our does that happen a lot? – Raymond de la Croix Aug 21 '18 at 21:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.