I’ve noticed a particularly difficult part of learning Japanese is getting used to multiple layers of conjugation, which is all too common in Japanese. It’s not just enough to get really good at quickly doing all the different types of conjugations, you have to be able to do several simultaneously and instantly recognize the same during conversations.
A confusing example would be something like: 「それ、よくなくない？」 meaning “Isn’t that not good?” If you want to be facetious, you can keep going such as, 「よくなくなくない」、「よくなくなくなくない」、 and so on.
I don’t know of any good tools or books that address this skill so I suggested to my students to just practice some common (and perhaps not so common) combination with various nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
For example, a very common scenario would be various conjugations for the 「たい」 and potential forms. Common expressions include things like “I can’t go”, “I didn’t want to say this”, “I couldn’t do anything”, etc. There’s a whole host of other combination you can play with for practice.
Try the following chain conjugations with random verb and adjective phrases. They are ordered roughly by difficulty. The goal is to to be able to do it instinctively and almost instantaneously with little to no cognitive processes.
I can’t [Verb]
- I didn’t want to [Verb].
- He/she/it doesn’t seem very [Adjective].
- I couldn’t [Verb] for him/her.
- You may not have to [Verb].
- You didn’t even try to [Verb].
- It looks like he/she didn’t [Verb].
- If you don’t want to [Verb], you don’t have to [Verb].
- I was told that I must try to [Verb].
- I didn’t want to be made to [Verb].
- I think it’s better that you don’t [Verb] too much.
- Even if you didn’t want to [Verb], there’s a nicer way to refuse, isn’t there?
- If you suppose the he/she always does too much [Verb], there’s no way he/she didn’t do [Verb] today.
Are there any chain conjugation you found particularly useful or challenging?
Scroll down for some sample answers. Make sure you give it a try yourself before you look, though!