I am doing japaneese N5 lessons for second time and I get REALLY confused. As far as I know there are 3 categories of verbs:

  • Irregular verbs
  • Ichidan verbs
  • Godan verbs

But the sensei tells us that there are the following categories:

  • Irregular ones
  • U-verbs
  • RU-verbs

And I got pretty much confused on this issue: which is the appropriate one classification, are U-verbs just godan ones or not?

  • 1
    They are the same things, just with different names.
    – Blavius
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 2:05

2 Answers 2


The terminology generally used to teach Japanese grammar to foreign language students is different from the terminology used to teach Japanese grammar to students in Japanese public school.

While the concept of "U-verbs", "RU-verbs", etc. are commonly taught to foreign language students, Japanese public school students only learn Godan, Ichidan, etc.

Broadly speaking:

  • U-verbs are Godan Verbs(五段活用動詞{ごだんかつようどうし})
  • RU-verbs are Ichidan Verbs(下一段{しもいちだん}活用動詞、上一段{かみいちだん}活用動詞)
  • Irregular Verbs are like "suru"(サ行変格{ぎょうへんかく}活用動詞)、"kuru"(カ行変格活用動詞)、etc.
  • 2
    I was always taught that you can have u-verbs that end in る. Which is what would bridge that gap. Here's an example of a page from Tae Kim's guide, where 困る is listed as an u-verb. guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/define
    – Leebo
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 2:48
  • 2
    This is why I personally prefer the term "consonant-stem verbs" to "u-verbs" or "type I verbs"...
    – naruto
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 2:52
  • 2
    Yeah, using the u-veb / ru-verb terminology just kind of delays the inevitable revelation that sometimes you can't tell from the ending what it is.
    – Leebo
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 2:52
  • 2
    To me ru-verb is really a misnomer, and as you say, just sets the learner up for confusion later on.
    – sazarando
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 2:53
  • 3
    I think they're meant to be the same groupings, and as such you have to understand that RU-verbs does not mean "all verbs that end in -RU". Which is annoying in a different way, and still doesn't help the learner understand what's going on.
    – ConMan
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 3:33

It is a difference of behavior between the ます-form and the dictionary form. Compare two verbs with きる as dictionary form: 着る yields 着ます and 切る gives 切ります. In the former case what's conserved is ki-, with the latter what is common between the two forms is kir-. One stem ends on a vowel, the other on a consonant (to which five possible vowels can be added, hence godan).

I personally loathe the term 'type-1 verbs', since it is used for those verbs that are not 'ichidan' -- now that's not a clever choice of name.

Note that while there are only two official irregular verbs (来る and する), some other verbs have at least one irregular form (the negation of ある is ない, and 行く has 行て as a て-form).

  • > "行く has 行て as a て-form" - you mean 行って?
    – Blavius
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 14:56

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