Verb sequences

In this section, we’ll learn how to describe verbs that happen after, before, and at the same time as another verb. To describe clauses that happen sequentially, we must first learn all the te-form conjugation rules.

Te-form conjugation rules

For the progressive tense, we only needed to learn the conjugation rules for plain verbs. However, nouns, adjectives, and the negative form can also be conjugated to the te-form.

Te-form conjugation rules

  1. Plain nouns and na-adjectives: Attach 「で」 to the noun or na-adjective.

    1. 学生+ = 学生
    2. 暇+ = 暇
    3. きれい+ = きれい
  2. I-adjectives and negative: Replace the last 「い」 with 「くて」.

    1. かわい+くて = かわいくて
    2. 学生じゃな+くて = 学生じゃなくて
    3. 食べな+くて = 食べなくて
  3. Exceptions: As usual 「いい」 conjugates from 「よい」
    1. いい → よ+くて = よくて
    2. かっこいい → かっこよ+くて = かっこよくて

Sequence of actions

The te-form we learned at the beginning of this chapter is very versatile and has many uses. In fact, the te-form alone is used to express a sequence of actions that happen one after another. This will make your conversations smoother as it allows you to connect multiple sentences instead of having many smaller, separate sentences that are often too short.

  1. 朝 【あさ】- morning
  2. 起きる 【お・きる】(ru-verb) – to get up; to happen
  3. そして – and then
  4. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】- breakfast
  • 朝、起きた。そして、朝ご飯を食べた。そして、学校に行った。
    Morning, (I) woke up. Then (I) ate breakfast. Then, (I) went to school.
  • 朝、起きて、朝ご飯を食べて、学校に行った。
    Morning, (I) woke up, ate breakfast, and went to school.


  1. 彼女 【かの・じょ】 – she; girlfriend
  2. 優しい 【やさ・しい】(i-adj) – gentle
  3. 頭 【あたま】 – head
  4. 人気 【にん・き】 – popularity
  5. どうする – what should one do (lit: how do)
  6. 飲み会 【の・み・かい】 – drinking party
  1. 彼女は、きれい、優しくて、頭もいいから、皆に人気がある。
    Because she is pretty, gentle, and smart, (she’s) popular with everybody.
  2. 宿題をしなくて、どうするんだよ?
    (You) don’t do homework and what are you going to do?
  3. 飲み会は、今日じゃなくて、明日です。
    Drinking party is not today, it’s tomorrow.

Before and after

You can use 「前」 and 「後」 to describe an action as happening before or after another action.

  1. 前 【まえ】 – front; before
  2. 後 【あと】 – after


  1. 寝る 【ね・る】(ru-verb) – to sleep
  2. 風呂 【ふ・ろ】 – bath
  3. 入る 【はい・る】(u-verb) – to enter
  4. ここ – here
  5. 来る 【く・る】(exception) – to come
  6. ちゃんと – properly
  7. 連絡 【れん・らく】 – contact
  8. する 【す・る】(exception) – to do
  9. 昼 【ひる】 – afternoon
  10. ご飯 【ご・はん】 – rice; meal
  11. 昼ご飯 【ひる・ご・はん】 – lunch
  12. 食べる 【た・べる】(ru-verb) – to eat
  13. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  14. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】(u-verb) – to swim
  15. 危ない 【あぶ・ない】(i-adj) – dangerous
  1. 寝るに、お風呂に入る。
    Take a bath before going to sleep.
  2. ここに来るに、ちゃんと連絡したよ。
    (I) properly contacted (you) before (I) came here.
  3. 昼ご飯を食べた、宿題をした。
    Did homework after eating lunch.
  4. 食べた、泳ぐのは危ないです。
    Swim after eating is dangerous.

Note: Be careful of the tense of the verb that comes before 「前」 and 「後」. 「前」 is non-past while 「後」 is always past tense.

Another way to describe an action is to use the te-form with 「から」. While similar to 「後」, 「~てから」 conveys a stronger and more immediate relation between the two events, often used for situations where the previous action needs to be completed for the next action to start.


  1. 晩ご飯 【ばん・ご・はん】 – dinner
  2. 習う 【なら・う】(u-verb) – to learn
  3. いい (i-adj) – good
  1. 晩ご飯を食べてから、宿題をするよ。
    (I’ll) do homework after (I) eat dinner.
  2. カタカナは、ひらがなを習ってから習うのがいい。
    As for Katakana, (it) is good to learn after learning Hiragana

Two simultaneous actions

You can express two actions that are taking place simultaneously by attaching 「ながら」 to the end of the stem of the first verb. The tense is determined by the main verb at the end.

Using 「ながら」 for concurrent actions

  • Change the first verb to the stem and append 「ながら
    1. 食べ → 食べ+ながら → 食べながら
    2. → 遊び+ながら → 遊びながら


  1. 話す 【はな・す】 – to speak
  2. 行儀 【ぎょう・ぎ】 – manners
  3. 悪い 【わる・い】(i-adj) – bad
  4. 辞書 【じ・しょ】 – dictionary
  5. 使う 【つか・う】(u-verb) – to use
  6. 文章 【ぶん・しょう】 – sentence
  7. 書く 【か・く】(u-verb) – to write
  8. 通じる 【つう・じる】(ru-verb) – to go through, to get across
  1. テレビを見ながら、宿題をする。
    Do homework while watching TV.
  2. 食べながら話すのは行儀が悪い。
    (It’s) bad manners to speak while eating.
  3. 辞書を使いながら、日本語の文章を書いたけど、全然通じなかった。
    Wrote Japanese text while using dictionary but (it) didn’t get across at all.
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