Japanese Grammar Bank


Today, we’ll take a look at the future tense in Japanese, or to be more accurate, the lack of future tense in Japanese.

There’s no way to conjugate a Japanese verb to make it future tense! So, we’ll be looking at how you can express the future in other ways.


Japanese is a language built on suggestion and implication. Using the language can sometimes feel like trying to break a code every time you have a conversation, as often meaning isn’t explicitly said, but rather implied.

So, it should be no surprise that the future in Japanese is indicated through inference. As Japanese has no explicit future tense, you should just use the present tense. Through context, you can infer that the present tense form of the verb is actually talking about the future.

Let’s take a look at some examples below to get your head around it.


Doko ni iku no?


Where will you go?
Ashita, Disneyland ni iku.


Tomorrow, I’ll go to Disneyland.

In the above example, the use of 明日 ashita tells the listener that despite using 行くiku, the future is being discussed.


Ashita, nani wo taberu no?


What will you eat tomorrow?
Sushi wo tabe ni iku.


I will eat sushi.

In the above example, the fact the first speaker asks about 明日 ashita tells us that the following 行くiku is about what Misaki will eat.


Shuumatsu, nani ka tanoshii koto ga aru no?


Do you have something fun on the weekend?
Un, tomodachi to pikunikku ni iku.


Yeah, I’m going on a picnic with friends.

In the above example, the conversation in the context of the upcoming weekend lets the listener know that despite being in present tense, the verbs used indicate the future.


Yuko chan! Hawaii e ryokou suru yo!


Yuko! I’m going to travel to Hawaii!

The above example shows us a time that might be difficult for a Japanese learner.

Without context, you might assume the sentence meaning to be like, “I travel to Hawaii.” You might be confused about when this is taking place, or if the speaker generally travels to Hawaii.

The giveaway here is the expression. The excitement in the sentence implies it’s a plan that the speaker is excited about.

It’s not much to go off, but it’s enough to tell you that the future it being referenced.


Tanaka senpai no kanrekikai ni iku no?


Will you go to Mr Tanaka’s retirement party?
Iku yo.


I will go.

The above example is something you will encounter all the time living in Japan. In English, it would be very unnatural to answer a question about an event in the future with, “I go.”

But that’s exactly what most people do in Japanese. The fact the event is in the future put your present tense 行くiku in the future tense.


Eigo no kyoushi ni narimasu.


I will become an English teacher.

The fact なる naru (to become) is used tells you that it’s a future tense sentence.

Why? Because you can’t become something immediately. But in their very nature, sentences with なるnaru (to become) are future tense.


つもり tsumori

予定 yotei

You should be aware that when talking about the future tense in Japanese, you can use つもりtsumori and 予定 yotei to express what you plan to do in the future.

Look at our Plans and Intentions lesson if you’d like to know more.


  • There is no future tense conjugation of Japanese verbs.
  • You can infer whether a present tense verb is indicating the future through context or time words.
  • You can use つもり tsumori and 予定 yotei to explicitly express your intention to do something.

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How to conjugate verbs in future tense?

There is no future tense conjugation of Japanese verbs.

You can infer whether a present tense verb is indicating the future through context or time words.

How to use the ます form?

With 一段 ichidan verbs:

– Take off the るru at the end

– Put a ますmasu in its place

With 五段 godan verbs:

– Change the last syllable for an いsound

– And throw on ます masu

With irregular verbs:

– する suru to do changes to しますshimasu.

– 来る kuru to come changes to 来ます kimasu.

How to use past tense for Group 1 verbs?

For the formal (ますmasu) version of the past tense, you need to take the polite form and change ますmasu to ました mashita.

REFRESHER || For group 1 verbs, you change the ending syllable to the い i equivalent and add ますmasu to make the polite form.

For example: 切るkiru → 切りkiri (theい i equivalent of るru) → 切ります kirimasu.

How to use past tense for Group 2 verbs?

Group 2 verbs are much simpler. You just have to take off the る ru ending and add たta.

見る miru to see → 見た mita saw

Where can I find more lessons like this?

Check out our Japanese Grammar Bank, where you’ll find lessons for levels A1, A2 and B2.

Can I study Japanese in Japan with LTL?

Yes you can!

We offer group and individual classes in Tokyo, for the duration of your choice.

You can even stay with a homestay family to really immerse yourself in the Japanese culture and discover a Japanese’s family lifestyle.