Suffixes, Past and Polite
In most languages, to express things such as tenses, the endings of verbs are often changed. But not all languages do that and not all languages have all tenses. For example, English doesn’t actually have a future tense. Verbs cannot be changed to indicate that something will happen in the future, but rather another a word or words are put before the verb to indicate future. Those words, of course, are ‘will’ and ‘be going.’
Endings don’t just indicate tense, but can indicate different nuances such as politeness.
(Approximate pronunciation) ee koo (oo as in moo)
This means: Go
This is the dictionary form. This is how you have to look up a word in Japanese. This is also the casual form of the verb. When talking with friends or people younger than you, you can use this form.
(Approximate pronunciation) ee kee moss
This means: Go
The root 行く (ee koo) changes to 行き (ee key) and then the ます (moss) ending is added. This is the basically polite form and the one that you will most often use.
There are different groups of verbs and each version has it’s own forms for past tense and other tenses too.
行った (eat taw) – casual, past
行きました (ee key mawsh taw) – polite, past
For the Japanese lessons, mostly the polite form was used, as it is the most useful for getting around. It will be the one you most often hear, except in restaurants and stores where they use the honorific.
The one exception to the lesson verbs is the verb です (dess). Depending on the situation, the casual form だ (daw) was used. In surprising or emergency situations, one wouldn’t worry about politeness.