The 8 Major Meanings of て (te) Form

This て form is a conjunctive particle(接続助詞), which is used to connect sentences to sentences. It can have various meanings and roles depending on the context. For how to make て form, read this article below:
How to Make V+て(te) Form

8 major meanings of て form

て form would be attached to the end of a verb or adjective to connect more than two sentences.

“I woke up, then brushed my teeth, and then put on makeup.”
[Verb A]て、[verb B]て、[verb C]た。

て form doesn’t contain tense information. So when you connect verbs, the last verb (in this case [verb C]) shows you if it’s talking about a current or past, or future situation.

1. Succession

This form is used to order the verbs when several actions are to be performed in succession.

“I come back home” “I washed my hands”
“I washed my hands after I came back home.”

“I’m meeting up with my boyfriend” “I’m going watch a movie”
“I’m going to meet up with my boyfriend and then go see a movie.”

2. Parallel

This form is used to parallelize things of the same level. Since they are on the same level, switching the order does not affect the meaning.

“He is good at English” “funny”
“He is good at English and funny.” (= He is funny and good at English.)

“Our son is tall” “heavy”
“Our son is tall and heavy.” (=Our son is heavy and tall.)

3. Comparison

It is used to describe two or more things in contrast or comparison.

“I’m in charge of cooking” “my husband is in charge of cleaning”
“I’m in charge of cooking and my husband is in charge of cleaning.”

“This ring is cheap” “this necklace is expensive”
“This ring is cheap and this necklace is expensive.”

4. Incidental situation

It is used to describe a state or situation when performing an action.

“My son opens the door” “to sleep”
“My son sleeps with the door open.”

“I wear sunglasses” “to drive”
“I drive in sunglasses.”

5. Means and Method

It describes the means or method of performing a certain action.

“I save money [method]” “to travel abroad”
“I save money to travel abroad.”

“I use scissors [means]” “to open the bag”
“I open the bag by using scissors.”

6. Cause and Reason

It is used to add a cause or reason for a thing.

“my hand hurts [reason]” “I can’t study”
“My hand hurts, so I can’t study.”

“The soup is hot [cause]” “tongue was burnt”
“The soup was so hot that my tongue was burnt.”

7. Starting point

It is used to indicate the starting point of a time or place.

“I get married [starting time]” “it’s been 5 years”
“It’s been five years since we got married.”

“I leave my house [starting place] at 6:00” “I walked all the way here”
“I left the house at 6:00 and walked all the way here.”

8. Purpose

It is used to describe the purpose of doing something.

“To take beautiful pictures [purpose]” “to I went on a trip to Southeast Asia”
“I went on a trip to Southeast Asia to take beautiful pictures.”

“To aim to get first place [purpose]” “I studied hard”
“I studied hard to get to first place.”


I first mentioned that this form is used to connect sentences to sentences, but it is also used to connect verbs to verbs and treat them as if they were one verb.

*It is called 補助動詞 (directly translated, a support verb), which is a kind of auxiliary verb, and the verb in the back loses its original meaning and adds meaning to the verb in the front. In this case, the verb in the back is written in hiragana, not kanji.
-してみる (-する+見る→してみる[見る])


“to try to do …”

“I’m going to try on a new pair of shoes today.”

“Can I taste this a little?”


“please do …”

“Please wake up.”

“Please run.”


(-する + いる)
“to be doing …”
*Progressive (continuous) form in Japanese can express not only the continuation of action but also habits and states.

“My sister is talking with her friend on the phone.”

“I work out every day.”


(-する + ほしい)
“to want someone to do …”
*Strictly speaking, this and the following one are 補助形容詞 (support adjective) because 欲しい is an adjective. (It means “to want”, though.)

“I want someone to write.”

“I want someone to see.”


(-する+ほしい [omit])
“to ask/order/wish someone to do …”

“Come quickly!”

“Look at that!”

“Please! Buy it!”

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