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Sunday, December 15, 2019

shuushikei 終止形

In Japanese, the shuushikei 終止形 is one of the six basic inflectable forms of verbs and adjectives.

It's the base form, or dictionary form, of most words and dictionaries.

For example, yomu 読む, "to read," is a shuushikei.

Conjugation

For reference, how to conjugate the shuushikei.

Shuushikei Conjugation Table
shi
kedo
Irregular Verbs
kuru
くる
kuru
くる
suru
する
suru
する
Godan Verbs
kau
買う
kau
買う
kaku
書く
kaku
書く
oyogu
泳ぐ
oyogu
泳ぐ
korosu
殺す
korosu
殺す
katsu
勝つ
katsu
勝つ
shinu
死ぬ
shinu
死ぬ
asobu
遊ぶ
asobu
遊ぶ
yomu
読む
yomu
読む
kiru
切る
kiru
切る
Ichidan Verbs
kiru
着る
kiru
着る
taberu
食べる
taberu
食べる
Adjectives
kawaii
可愛い
kawaii
可愛い
kirei na
綺麗な
kirei da
綺麗だ
Jodoushi 助動詞
masu
ます
masu
ます
desu
です
desu
です

Yep, this table is pretty much useless.

For godan verbs, the shuushikei ends in the ~u vowel. For ichidan verbs, it ends in ~ru ~る.

For na-adjectives, the shuushikei uses the predicative copula da. This is the only tricky part, because the term "na-adjectives" comes from the attributive copula na, which would be the rentaikei 連体形 instead.

For i-adjectives, the shuushikei ends in ~i ~い.

Grammar

The word shuushi 終止 means "stop," in the same sense as the "full stop" symbol, or "period" in American English, which is the dot (.) that you write at the end of sentences. Indeed, the shuushikei is generally used by the last word in a sentence.
  • {te ni motte-iru} manga wo yomi-hajimeru
    手に持っている漫画を読み始める
    To start reading the manga [that] {[I] am holding in my hand}.
    • motte - te-form.
    • ~iru - rentaikei.
    • yomi - ren'youkei.
    • ~hajimeru - shuushikei.

Japanese has two extremely similar basic forms: the shuushikei (predicative form) and the rentaikei (attributive form). The rentaikei is the one that comes before a noun, the shuushikei is the one that doesn't.
  • ano hito ga kirei da
    あの人が綺麗
    That person is pretty.
    • da だ - shuushikei.
  • {kirei na} hito
    綺麗
    A person [that] {is pretty}.
    A pretty person.
    • na な - rentaikei.

For ichidan verbs, godan verbs, and i-adjectives, the shuushikei and rentaikei are identical.
  • erufu ga mori ni sumu
    エルフが森に住む
    The elves live in the forest.
    • sumu - shuushikei.
  • {mori ni sumu} erufu
    森に住むエルフ
    The elves [that] {live in the forest}.
    The elves, [which] {live in the forest}.
    • sumu - rentaikei.

The shuushikei is about syntax, not meaning. The shuushikei of verbs happens to be the non-past form, but that has nothing to do with the term shuushikei.

For instance, the past form is composed by the ren'youkei 連用形 plus the ~ta ~た jodoushi. Syntactically, the ~ta ~た jodoushi has a shuushikei and a rentaikei, too, and they're identical, too.
  • hito wo koroshita
    人を殺し
    Killed a person.
    • ~ta ~た - shuushikei.
  • {koroshita} hito
    殺し
    The person [whom] {[someone] killed}.
    • ~ta ~た - rentaikei.
  • ano hito ga kirei datta
    あの人が綺麗だっ
    That person was pretty.
  • {kirei datta} hito
    綺麗だっ
    The person [that] {was pretty}.

As you can see, the only difference between the two forms is whether they come before a noun (prenominally), or not. Prenominally, it's rentaikei, otherwise, shuushikei.

Since for most words the two forms are identical, whether you're using the shuushikei or the rentaikei doesn't really matter most of the time. It only matters when you have to decide between using da だ or na な.

Usage

The shuushikei comes before sentence-ending particles and conjunctions in Japanese.

For example, it comes before the shi し particle, and the wa わ particle.
  • kirei da shi
    綺麗だし
    [Given that] [it] is pretty.
  • kirei da wa
    綺麗だわ
    [It] is pretty.

There are jodoushi that come after the shuushikei of verbs. They are ~ramu ~らむ, ~rashi ~らし, ~beshi ~べし, ~maji ~まじ, ~meri ~めり, and ~nari ~なり. However, most of these are only seen in archaic Japanese, so you don't need to worry about them.
  • ninja wa korosu beshi
    ニンジャは殺すべし
    Ninjas, to kill [one] should.
    Ninjas should be killed.

Just in case: the maji マジ you hear nowadays, which means "seriously," is a slang coming from majime 真面目, "earnest," and has nothing to do with the archaic ~maji ~まじ jodoushi. For reference, how the jodoushi ~maji would be used:
  • aru maji
    あるまじ
    [It] shouldn't exist.
    [It] shouldn't be.
    • ~maji - shuushikei.
  • aru majiki koui
    あるまじき行為
    An act [that] {shouldn't exist}.
    Something that shouldn't be done.
    Acting in improper manner.
    • ~majiki - rentaikei.

One troublesome thing is that certain words in Japanese, often called formal nouns, are syntactically nouns, but have weird meanings in them that would make you think they aren't actually nouns.

Nevertheless, since they're nouns, you use the rentaikei, not the shuushikei, before them.
  • {kirei na} no de
    綺麗なので
    Because [it] is pretty.
    • no の - a noun, as far as syntax is concerned.
  • kirei da kara
    綺麗だから
    (basically same meaning.)
    • kara から - a conjunction.

A simple way to tell whether something is a noun or not is to check whether you can put the shuushikei da だ before it or not. Since you can say da ga だが and da kedo だけど, the words ga が and kedo けど aren't nouns.

Problematically, there are a few words that can be either a noun or a sentence-ending particle. The way the word is used as a noun is different from how it's used as a sentence-ending particle, but at first glance it looks like it's the same thing. Observe:
  • {kirei na} mono
    綺麗なもの
    A thing [that] {is pretty}.
    A pretty thing.
    • Since we used the rentaikei na な here, mono is a noun.
  • kirei da mono
    綺麗だもの
    [Because] [it] is pretty.
    • Since we used the shuushikei da だ here, mono is no longer a noun.

The noun mono もの means "thing," while the sentence-ending particle mono もの is generally used when the sentence expresses a justification for something.

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