PSA: Stop editing the Japanese lessons just to...

Kant_Lernjap us United States

I've been running into trouble recently with someone going through Yuki no Monogatari faster than I am, and editing the lessons as he pillages through it. This person is combining all the stems of the verbs with what they probably consider to be conjugates.


They change "逃げ ました" (2 words) into "逃げました" (1 word)

This is why you shouldn't do that: You are editing the lesson for everyone, not just yourself. You may believe that 逃げました is just one word, a conjugate, but that's wrong. 逃げました is two words, the stem 逃げ and the helper verb ました. There are no conjugations in Japanese and thinking about them like conjugations are going to confuse you.

Additionally, it's rather annoying in terms of LingQ's functionality. If you save 逃げ as a word and ました as a word, every instance of the two are now yellow. If you combine them into 逃げました then you have to do that for every form of every word you see. To explain it in another way, I've seen "見 ます" in context and "亡くなり ました" in context. The first time I see "亡くなり ます" I don't have to do anything because I already have "亡くなり" and "ます" as yellow words, and in fact with a bit of thought I should already know what this new word "亡くなりました" means.

Edit: It's also causing words that should be known words for people to not be counted as such because it's not being consistent with the way every other lesson is set up.

Basically, please stop forcing everyone else to see the stems combined with the helper verbs. It's crippling their Japanese, it's crippling yours, and it's extremely non-optimal as far as LingQ goes anyway.

I hope I swayed your opinion. Thank you.

December 06 at 00:47
  • Tokyohenjin lu Luxembourg

    I hate to be That Guy, but "ます" is not a word. It is the end of the formal conjugation of a Japanese verb. Yes, Japanese verbs do have conjugations, and fortunately they follow pretty clear rules. In the examples above, you're talking about the verbs 逃げる (to run away), 見る (to look/see/watch), and 亡くなる (to die). Here are the common conjugations of 見る:

    見る 見ます - look/see/watch

    見ない 見ません - negation of the above

    見た 見ました - looked/saw/watched

    見なかった 見ませんでした - negation of the above

    見られる 見られます - to be looked at/seen/watched; also able to look/see/watch

    見られない 見られません - negation of the above

    見られた 見られました - was looked at/seen/watched; also was able to look/see/watch

    見られなかった 見られませんでした - negation of the above

    見させる 見させます - to make look at/see/watch

    見させない 見させません - negation of the above

    見させた 見させました - made look at/see/watch

    見させなかった 見させませんでした - negation of the above

    見させられる 見させられます - to be made to look at/see/watch

    見させられない 見させられません - negation of the above

    見させられた 見させられました - was made to look at/see/watch

    見させられなかった 見させられませんでした - negation of the above

    見よう 見ましょう - let's/I'll/you'll/etc. look/see/watch

    見れば - if I/you/we/etc. look/see/watch

    見たら - if I/you/we/etc. look/see/watch

    見なければ - if I/you/we/etc. don't look/see/watch

    見なかったら - negation of the above

    見ろ - look/see/watch!

    見て - [conjunctive form]

    見なくて - negation of the above

    見 - [stem for e.g., 見に行きます, "Go to look"]

    ます is the end of the polite conjugation of a verb; it is not a word in its own right. If LingQ is treating it as a separate word and it helps you as a learner then that's great and you should continue looking at it that way, but I just wanted to head off a potential issue for you in the future.

    December 06 at 13:05
    • Kant_Lernjap us United States


      These are not conjugations, they are helper verbs attached to a stem. Let's take a look at some of them you've posted (I would do them all but I feel like it's unnecessary)

      見ない → 見 + ない (from ある)

      ない is just the verb 無い, which means to not exist. You attach it to the stem.

      見させる → 見 + させる

      させる is just the verb 為せる, which means to cause someone to do. You attach it to the stem.

      見れる → 見 + れる

      れる is just the verb れる, an auxilery verb that indicates passive voice. It's a separate word that you are attaching to the stem.

      Everything is actually just separate words with meanings that, when attached to the stem, alter the meaning of the main verb in some way. 見させる's formation is, on a technical level, no different from 見続ける, which is just a helper verb attached to a main verb and not a conjugation.

      If we must map this onto English to make it clear, it would be like saying "didn't look" is a conjugation of "look".

      December 07 at 00:46
      • Tokyohenjin lu Luxembourg

        This is incorrect, I'm sorry. Look if it helps you learn Japanese by thinking of things that way, then by all means use it--God knows I used a lot of ridiculous mnemonics when I was learning. But be aware that this is a learning tool, and not the way the language actually works. It will eventually break down.

        I'll give you an example. Sticking with the causitive form, let's consider 見る (to look) and 飛ぶ (to fly). By your logic, you attach the verb させる to the very stem to form the causitive. That works for 見る but fails for 飛ぶ. Your logic would yield 飛びさせる; the actual conjugation is 飛ばせる. Again, this is because this is not how the verbs work. You can try it with the verb する as well; you'll see what I mean.

        The same applies to negation. Your approach would yield 飛びない. It's actually 飛ばない. But you can in fact negate verbs using other approaches such as 飛ぶな (an imperative), 飛ぶんじゃない (a casual/slang approach, especially in Kanto), 飛ぶまい (an arcane form, most often seen today with あるまい), and 飛ばざる (another arcane form that is usually put in front of を得ない to indicate lack of a choice in doing something). Compare this to actual compound verbs such as 飛び続ける or 飛び切る or 飛び込む, and you see the treatment is different.

        It's possible that part of the issue is that you're mostly dealing with the so-called "Group 1" verbs, where the verb stem is frequently used in the conjugation. 飛ぶ is a "Group 2" verb, which has a different set of rules. The good news is there are only 3 groups, and the two main exceptions are する and 来る, so as far as actual conjugation goes, Japanese is on the easy side :)

        Tuesday at 22:51
        • Kant_Lernjap us United States

          I'm sorry but what you said is incorrect, even worse is that you are confirming my assertion but then continuing to fight it under the guise that it is incorrect.

          You cannot truthfully argue that you are not attaching a helper verb onto the stem of the main verb, doing so would be arguing in bad faith. It is a fact that the させる in causative verbs is a word in itself, the same going for every other form. So your argument does not focus on this, but the fact that there are stems and "あ stems" and "え stems" -- basically, that there are 3 stems and therefore 3 conjugations for every verb. Again I stress that even attempting to argue that you are not adding a separate word onto the main verb to change its meaning is simply wrong and misinformed.

          So back to the main issue you seem to be having: The 3 stems each verb has. First, this does not in any way make it even remotely optimal to combine them with the helper verbs in LingQ. It still does the opposite -- it still makes things far more complicated. But let's focus on how the language actually works, then: Are these conjugations? On a purely technical standpoint these are actually just sound changes, but from the perspective of the learner, fine, maybe these are "conjugations". I put that word in quotes because thinking of them as conjugations is doing yourself a great disservice because you are neglecting to understand how Japanese actually works and instead choosing to map English onto it when they are two very different languages.

          P.S. do not insult my knowledge, I know that group 2 verbs exist and I chose to ignore them because there are only 3 versus the tens of thousands of group 1 verbs.

          Wednesday at 01:38
          • Tokyohenjin lu Luxembourg

            Listen, I'm at the end of the path you're walking now. I learned Japanese in University, which included a year of intensive study in Japan while I lived with a Japanese family. When I graduated, I went back and studied for another year at literally the best Japanese school in the world (IUC in Yokohama, if you're wondering), and then I lived in Japan for a decade. I read and write Japanese, I've used it professionally and personally, I've interpreted for meetings with government agencies, I've translated laws, I understand dialects, I've mastered keigo, I've passed all the tests. My man, I know how Japanese works, and what I'm telling you is based on 15 years of study and experience. That experience includes a lot of missteps, which is what I'm trying to help you avoid.

            Again, if this is what helps you learn the language then that is completely fine. Ultimately, it doesn't matter if you think that something like なければならない is the result of verb conjugations or trickster fairies--if it's there when you need it, then that's all that matters. And like I said below, if that's how LingQ works in Japanese then I'm certainly not going to challenge it. But speaking from experience, the model you've put forth will quickly fall apart and even start getting in your way as you progress and need to start using native-level reference materials. Early in my studies, I struggled for a year re-learning things that I mis-learned the first time. I'm simply trying to save you the same pain.

            I also need to correct two statements you've made above.

            It is a fact that the させる in causative verbs is a word in itself, the same going for every other form. So your argument does not focus on this, but the fact that there are stems and "あ stems" and "え stems" -- basically, that there are 3 stems and therefore 3 conjugations for every verb. Again I stress that even attempting to argue that you are not adding a separate word onto the main verb to change its meaning is simply wrong and misinformed.

            Yes, させる is the causative form of する. But it is not used in "every other form". 見させる is correct, 食べさせる is correct, but 飛ぶ conjugates to 飛ばせる. 書く goes to 書かせる, 死ぬ to 死なせる, 切る to 切らせる, and so on.

            P.S. do not insult my knowledge, I know that group 2 verbs exist and I chose to ignore them because there are only 3 versus the tens of thousands of group 1 verbs.

            There are a huge number of both Group 1 verbs (the る verbs) and Group 2 verbs (sometimes called -う verbs because they end in in う、く、ぶ、ぬ、etc. and sometimes る, like 切る). You're thinking of Group 3 verbs, which is a very small group (basically する and 来る) that is still commonly used. You absolutely have to pay attention to Group 2 verbs as well, because they conjugate differently than Group 1 verbs. Happy to provide resources if that helps.

            Wednesday at 10:48
            • Kant_Lernjap us United States

              Ok Mr. Best School In The World, assuming that all your experience makes you right (it does not, this is a logical fallacy, and people with just as much experience as you say the opposite, so boasting your credientials means nothing), and assuming that these are not auxiliary verbs added to stems and are in fact all conjugations, can you now explain why and how they (e.g. 見ます) should be counted as 1 word in LingQ instead of 2? If you can't then all of this is literally just you flaunting your experience for no reason othat than taking an intellectual high ground.

              P.S. I mistake the names of group 1 and group 2 and group 3 verbs because those are names that are given to them in english textbooks to shoehorn something. Knowing those terms would be, in my opinion, the culmination of being nose deep in grammar textbooks for years, which I am strictly against. That is why I do not know or care about the terminology "group 1" and "group 2" and I would appreciate it if your next post does not make reference to me not knowing the difference, which I do.


              Here is someone with just as much authority on the subject as you saying the opposite of what you are claiming.

              Thursday at 03:10
    • Ozemite au Australia


      The issue isn't whether 見なければ for example is one 'word' or two 'words'... Rather, the issue is it's highly impracticable and redundant to combine each verb stem plus their conjugations into individual words for learning purposes. For example, 600 verbs alone would produce over 30,000 "vocabulary" combinations going by your examples above, when one need only learn verb stems and basic conjugation patterns (with some irregularities). If I know ~ なければ is the plain negative conditional form of a verb, then I will recognise it whenever I see it regardless of whatever verb it's attached to and can conjugate at will when I know the pattern for the type of verb (which itself becomes intuitive).

      It makes sense to only learn/count the ます form and the plain dictionary form of verbs as vocabulary. Overall/basic grammatical patterns would count as individual vocabulary eg I only have to make ~ なければ "known" once, regardless of whatever verb it appends.

      Monday at 04:36
      • Tokyohenjin lu Luxembourg

        This is interesting, because it maps to my first impression. But apparently that's not how LingQ is supposed to work. Steve Kaufmann has an interesting video where he touches on this topic ( He describes his approach as basically considering all conjugates and varieties to be separate words for the purpose of the program.

        I'm working on French now, and I can confirm this is definitely the case. Sticking with non-compound tenses, a single verb can have almost 40 common conjugations (present, imperfect, past simple, future simple, subjunctive, conditional present, each with 6 persons [1/2/3 person singular and plural] plus an infinitive and present/past participle). Toss in rules about matching gender and number and you add another couple dozen varieties. So I'm surprised to hear that's apparently not how the Japanese works.

        As I've said before, if it works then I'm certainly not judging it. What you describe is a lot like how I learned in fact. My point above was just to make it clear that these are not literally separate words. Hopefully this will help others sidestep some of the difficulties that come up down the road.

        Tuesday at 23:01
        • ftornay es Spain

          I agree with @Tokyohenjin. In other languages, e.g., my current target Russian, different conjugation or declension forms are considered separate words on LIngq and milestones and other metrics are calculated in those terms. It works just fine and I'd argue the number of possible combinations in Russia fast outnumbers those in Japanese

          Wednesday at 23:02
  • david1985 au Australia

    I agree with you mate,

    It also makes it annoying when trying to copy both parts into jisho or google so I can understand how the conjugations changes the meaning of the sentence.

    Tuesday at 10:30
  • Hikarion de Germany


    i am wondering where is my comment from this morning....

    i also did some research again and asked some japanese people.

    it is true that all the forms coming after the verb-stem are either full verbs or auxiliary verbs.

    for instance 食べさせる are 3 words.

    the conjugation here works with adding further words.

    if you say 食べさせた then you also have 3 words. the past form in させた is a pure flexation of the verb る。it is NOT a flexation of させ。

    about this, iam also happy that you came up with this, because from this moprnign i have totaly changed my way of thinking about japanese verbs ^^

    i was also thinking about whether i should like the seperation or not. And i also know the mentioned video of Steve Kaufman. I feel, that the automatic "word"-seperation by lingq, when you import some lessons, is doing too much. It seperates almost each kanji from eachother.

    It bothers me for compound nouns most. Because if the kanji are used as a compound in a specific context, then i want to learn them as exactly that compound and not seperatly and i dont want to learn each kanji seperated by the others.

    About verbs: To be honest, i also deleted some spaces.

    Even if we understand ない and させる or られる as single words, it makes it uncomfortable to learn.

    lets say i dont understand the word 飛ば- ない, do I / we really want to lingq 飛ば? and then repeating in the car, and the voice says: とば = to fly?

    i dont want. So should i "shift" them together and mark the とば as "ignored". It gives me more work.

    And what do i do, if the stam of the verb is also a totaly differnet noun (in sound). I would be in trouble in the car :)

    And last, even when you write japanese on your keyboard, you write the verbs together, no matter which form you use.

    The lingq system for seperating the kanji from there enviroment should be better. Or dont seperate them at all.

    Recently i also put some content into lingQ. I put all the compund words or verbs together.

    But for other text i gave up on verbs.

    if you know 食べ たい and you click たい as known. Later you find a word like 蹴り たい. You dont know 蹴り and mark it as unknown. At first you can not know whether it is 蹴りたい or 蹴たい just by looking on the stam. So you have to look it up or you "shift" them together. But at the end, you have to do some clicks.

    Actually, it is a very interessting topic. If you look at 食べたく ない/ありません we can clearly see, that the negation is formed by seperated words. It is so, becasue the part befor the negation is treated as an adjectiv.

    But If i ask somebody 食べませんか? he could never answer はい、ません。 He has to say はい、食べません。It shows that the negation in this form sticks together with the stam.

    On the other side. If i ask 食べたいですか everybody would say ううん、食べたくない. It sticks together. And saying/seeing that, gives me headache. haha

    i think the ない in 食べない is not the same as the 無い. The 無い is the verb for "being not existent".

    For the example above, 食べたく 無い/在りません literaly; "the desire to eat is not existent".

    I wish to be a linguist haha

    p.s. dont kill me for my english ;)

    For other things i like the seperation, for example, seperating the たり、し, んです,

    Wednesday at 20:50