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I have bee nreading this article about ichidan and godan verbs, how they are conjugated and how to differentiate them from its plain form (食べる for instance).

Is there any rule to infer if a verb is ichidan or godan given one of its other forms? For instance, is it possible to infer that 食べる is an ichidan verb from its 食べます form, or that 聞く is a godan verb from its -te form 聞いて?

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I learned at school that we can infer the verb type from its ない form:

the sound right before ない has an あ(a) vowel ⇒ 五段(godan) verb
the sound right before ない has an い(i) vowel ⇒ 上一段(kami-ichidan) verb
the sound right before ない has an え(e) vowel ⇒ 下一段(shimo-ichidan) verb

For example, you can infer that...

聞く is 五段 verb from its ない form きない (kika-nai)
見る is 上一段 verb from its ない form ない (mi-nai)
食べる is 下一段 verb from its ない form たない (tabe-nai)


You can also infer whether the verb is 五段 or 一段 type from its volitional form:

The volitional form ends with う ⇒ 五段
The volitional form ends with よう ⇒ 上一段 or 下一段 

For example, you can infer that...

聞く is 五段(godan) verb from its volitional form きこ
見る/食べる is 一段(ichidan) verb from its volitional form みよう/たべよう


There might be more, but this is all that I can think of right now.

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  • あとは、命令形(imperative form)が「~ろ/よ」で終わるのは一段、"e"母音で終わるのは五段、eg「見ろ(見よ)」「食べろ(食べよ)」「聞け」、とかですかね
    – Chocolate
    Sep 26 at 15:08

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