The volitional—or more simply the “let’s “and “shall” form—helps us create a number of different phrases.

Group 1

Take the dictionary form and skip two columns to the right to change to an “o” ending character and add う.

かく ⇒ か+こう ⇒ かこう

to readもう
to waitとう
to goこう
to sayおう

Group 2

For group 2 we simply take the verb stem and add よう.

たべる ⇒ たべ〜 ⇒ たべよう

to eatべるべ〜べよう
to leaveよう
to seeよう
to existいるい〜いよう

Group 3

to doするしよう
to comeよう

The Auxiliary Verb

to beだろう

The volitional form of the auxiliary verb, だろう, doesn’t translate directly in English. The nuance is one of supposition—consequently we’ll deal with it separately in a later section. I’m including it here just to show you how it conjugates.

The Polite Form

For all verbs, to create the polite form of the volition we stake the verb stem and add ましょう.

to goき〜きましょう
to seeましょう
to doするし〜しましょう

The only exception is the auxiliary verb.

to beですでしょう

As mentioned we will look at this form of the auxiliary in another article.

Let’s speak on the phone.
Let’s meet at 8pm.
Let’s do it once more!

The particle よ can be added for emphasis.

By adding the question particle to the volitional ending we can change “let’s” to “shall” and we have another way to make a suggestion.

Shall we watch a movie?
Shall we go to Kamakura this weekend?
Shall we make sure whether that’s possible?

Note the embedded question to form this sentence

To think about changing jobs.

This structure…


… is very common. Unlike the same sentence with the standard form of the verb (e.g. “I think I will…”), the use of the volitional adds an element of “wondering”, as if you’re not even sure yourself if you’ll do it or not. Because of this, it is unnatural to use the volitional with と思う when the subject of the sentence is not yourself.

Finally, I’ll introduce the syllabic combination かな. It is very often appended to the standard form of the volitional to create a sort of rhetorical question that lets the listener know what you’re thinking or pondering. Because it is not a question it does not demand a response.

I wonder what shall I order…
Tomorrow shall I go to the beauty salon…
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