dictionary/root words and why are they not the first to be learned?

Asked 6 years ago

It seems like al the resources I have been using avoide this at the start then throws in the root as if it's no big deal.  The most common is verbs starting with "---masu" and treating that to be the root.  Even this site has done it with "aoi" instead of "ao"  If I was not cross referencing like I do, this would be incredibly confusing to me when I hear it in a new form.


I, for one, find it far easier to learn the root then build up, but maybe there is a reason I am not understanding as to why this is not common.  Is there something I am missing?

Using Romanji because I cannot make changes on this computer.

Commented 6 years ago

Know someone who might be able to answer this question?

1 Answer



Your question should be categorized as FAQ ^^

You're right!  I agree with you that the dictionary form is much easier to learn and use for non-native speakers.  But there is one clear reason why we teach the -masu form before  the dictionary form.

As you may know, there are differences between the "polite form" and the "casual form" in Japanese.  You need to know in which form you should talk to which person.  If you talk in a "casual form" to your superiors or elder people, you have a high risk to offend them.  The dictionary form can be used only in "casual" conversations.  On the other hand, the -masu form can be used in any occasions without offending other people, so it is safer than the dictionary form.

In fact, many non-native speakers, who didn't learn Japanese in a systematic way, speak only in a "casual way (dictionary form)" to anybody and they sound "inappropriate." 

I would say that learning the -masu form before the dictionary form is of benefit to you.

Hope I answered your question.

Answered 6 years ago

That is quite well put. It does make sense in that terms as to why it's done that way. I am sure many learn how to say expressions and when to say them before learning it's true meaning. I still find it easier to understand when learning root word first as a building block, then learning how to distinguish between casual and polite. :)

Commented 6 years ago