100 Japanese Verbs You Should Know (Part 1)

By Donald Ash | Articles

I’m really making an effort to improve how well I can communicate in Japanese. It’s something I think about on a regular basis. I want to be able to say exactly what I want to say and have people understand. There are days when I feel like the goal is so far away. There are other days where I feel like I might just be able to pull it off. Lately I realize that there’s a pretty big disconnect between the ideas that I have in my brain and having those ideas come out in Japanese. One thing I’ve started doing is making flashcards for different verbs. I’m going to post some of the ones that I find useful, because it really does make speaking easier for me. Of course knowing the different forms of the verbs is crucial for speaking naturally, too. We’ll get more into forms in another post, I promise. For now let’s take a look at some very useful Japanese verbs:

1. Taberu- たべる 食べる- To eat 
2. Nomu- のむ 飲む- To drink 
3. Nemu- ねむ ねむ- To sleep 
4. Okiru- おきる 起きる- To wake up
5. Miru- みる 見る- To see/To watch
6. Kiku- きく 聞く- To listen/ To hear/ To ask
7. Kagu- かぐ 嗅ぐ- To smell
8. Sawaru- さわる 触る- To touch
9. Ajiwau- あじわう 味わう- To taste
10. Hanasu- はなす 話す- To speak
11. Iu- いう 言う- To say
12. Kuru- くる 来る- To come
13. Iku- いく 行く- To go
14. Dekakeru- でかける 出かける- To go out
15. Kaeru- かえる 返る- To return home
16. Suru- する- To do
17. Yaru- やる 遣る- To perform
18. Wakaru- わかる 分かる- To understand
19. Iru- いる 居る- In, at (used for people)
20. Aru- ある 有る- To be/exist (used for things)

(Video coming soon…)

Whether you realize it or not, one-hundred verbs really isn’t a whole lot, but as a beginner, knowing even one-hundred can be the difference between basic communication and not being ab le to say anything at all. I decided to break down the verbs into digestible chunks. I figured that doing so would not only be more conducive to learning them more easily, but it would also facilitate memorizing as well. These posts will be short but hopefully they’ll provide you with some verbs that you may need later.

Happy studying,

Donald Ash


About the Author

Donald Ash is an Atlanta, Georgia-born, American expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last eleven years. While in that time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator of thejapanguy.com blog. Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.

  • Migeru says:

    Hey Donald thanx for all this knowledge, it has been really helpful, i wish all my practice will be use someday when i accomplish my dream, and maybe have a friend like you there in Japan:).

    Just to say im from Colombia.

    I love Japan. Sayounara.

    • Donald Ash says:

      I’m so glad to hear that Migeru. Keep reaching for that dream. If it’s truly what you want. YOU CAN DO IT!! Merry Christmas!

  • Clark says:

    I think ~masu form is most appropriate for students.

  • Guest says:

    Hi! Thank for this list!! It has been very useful for me!! ;D

  • Carlos says:

    The mp3 doesnt work?

  • Joseph says:

    Just noticed, isn’t the verb for “sleep” 寝る (ねる) and not ねむ?

    • Eric says:

      While 「眠る」 (ねむる) does indeed mean “to sleep”, the Japanese more often use the verb「寝る」 (ねる) instead. 「寝る」 (ねる) means “to lie down” with the intention of sleeping.

  • Anna says:

    I believe for kaeru you want this kanji: 帰.
    According to jisho.org 返る means to return to a place, but when returning specifically to your home you use 帰る

  • bgaskin says:

    Thanks, great content.

    A small, hopefully constructive criticism…. I don’t hate roumaji, but if you use it, please don’t throw away information.

    It’d be fantastic if you could update this so that 運動する/うんどうする was spelled undousuru not undosuru.
    Similar for other words like shoukaisuru.

    I can read everything without the rōmaji, but if it’s there my eye is drawn to it.

    And for beginners, it’s hard enough trying to remember the pronunciation of words like ryokou and ryouri without overly simplified spelling

  • Person says:

    There’s only 20 verbs, where’s the rest?

  • >