Japanese Grammar Bank


Today we are going to learn about some special verbs in Japanese.

But why are they special?

These Japanese verbs are more specific when describing actions than English verbs.


In the Japanese language, you’ll encounter nouns that can be used with specific verbs only. Thus, making them special.

There might be several different verbs for the same action in Japanese, even though there is only one verb used for similar actions in English.

One of the examples is the verb “to wear.”

In English we say, “I wear a shirt,” “I wear a hat,” “I wear glasses” and so on.

However, Japanese has different verbs depending on which part of the body it will be worn on.

Sounds difficult? Don’t worry, it becomes easy once you start practicing!

Now, let’s take a look at these special Japanese verbs.


着る kiru

Kiru” is used for putting clothes on the upper body. So, these will include shirts, jackets and so on.

履く haku

シャツを着るShatsu o kiru.I wear a shirt.
上着を着るUwagi o kiru.I wear a coat.

Haku” is used for putting clothes on the legs as well as for putting on footwear. So, these pairs will include pants, socks and so on.

ズボンを履くZubon o haku.I wear pants.
靴を履くKutsu o haku.I wear shoes.

かぶる kaburu

Kaburu” is used for putting things on the head. This is what you will use as a verb for wearing a hat.

帽子をかぶるBōshi o kaburu.I wear a hat.

かける kakeru

Kakeru” also means “to hang.” It could be used to mean that you hang something.

めがねをかけるMegane o kakeru.I wear glasses.
コートをかけるKōto o kakeru.I hang the coat.

する suru

Suru” has various usages. It can be used as “to wear” and can also be used for most sports.

時計をするTokei o suru.I wear a watch.
トランプをするToranpu o suru.I play cards.
野球をするYakyuu o suru.I play baseball.

つける tsukeru

Tsukeru” also means “to attach” or “to put on.”

イヤリングをつけるIyaringu o tsukeru.I wear earrings.
シートベルトをつけるShiito beruto o tsukeru.I put on a seat belt.

締める shimeru

Shimeru” also means “to tie.” So these verb and noun pairs will include a tie, shoe lace and so on.

ネクタイを締めるNekutai o shimeru.I wear a tie.
靴のひもを締めるKutsu no himo o shimeru.I tie my shoe laces.

巻く maku

Maku” can mean “to wrap around.” It could be used for scarves or bandages.

スカーフを巻くSukaafu o maku.I wear a scarf.
包帯を巻くHoutai o maku.To put on bandages.

はめる hameru

Hameru” can mean “to insert.”

手袋をはめるTebukuro o hameru.I wear gloves.
指輪をはめるYubiwa o hameru.I wear rings.


遊ぶ asobu

Asobu” originally means “to amuse oneself.”

おもちゃで遊ぶOmocha de asobu.I play with toys.

弾く hiku

Hiku” is used to play the musical instrument that requires the manipulation of fingers, that is, for stringed or keyboard instruments.

ピアノを弾くPiano o hiku.I play the piano.
ギターを弾くGitaa o hiku.I play the guitar.

吹く fuku

Fuku” means “to blow,” and is used to play a musical instrument that requires blowing air.

笛を吹くFue o fuku.I play the flute.
トランペットを吹くToranpetto o fuku.I play the trumpet.

たたく tataku

Tataku” means “to hit,” and is used to play musical instruments that require beating or tapping, such as drums.

太鼓をたたくTaiko o tataku.I play the drums.
ドラムをたたくDoramu o tataku.I play the drums.

Note that drums in Japanese can be spoken and written in either Kanji or Katakana.

演じる enjiru

Enjiru” is used to play or perform a character in an act.

ロミオを演じるRomio o enjiru.I play the role of Romeo.
重要な役を演じるJyuuyouna yaku o enjiru.I play an important role.

What we have learned today in this lesson are special pairs of nouns and verbs in Japanese. You’ll have to memorize these pairs to use them correctly, as there is a strong possibility of getting confused and making a mistake.

Even though they’re a bit tricky,

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What are Japanese special verbs?

There are nouns that can be used with specific verbs only. Thus, making them special.

There might be several different verbs for same action in Japanese, even though there is only one verb used for similar actions in English.

How many different ways to say “to wear” are there in Japanese?

In this article we cover nine ways to say “to wear” in Japanese: きる、はく、かぶる、かける、まく、しめる、する、つける、and はめる。

Can I study Japanese online with LTL?

Yes! Have a look at our online Japanese courses here.

Why does Japanese have so many different verbs to express one idea in English?

It’s a quirk of language; Japanese is simply more specific about, for example, expressing “to wear a hat” vs. “to wear a coat” vs. “to wear shoes” than English is.

How many ways to say “to play” in Japanese?

In this article we cover five ways to say “to play” in Japanese: あそぶ、ひく、ふく、たたく、and えんじる。

Can I study in Japanese with LTL?

Yes! We offer group and individual courses in Tokyo, Japan.

You’ll even have the opportunity to live with a homestay family, for even more cultural immersion.