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What are the different ways to produce nouns from other parts of speech and how are they different?

For example, 高い has these nouns produced from it:

  • 高さ

  • 高み

For 近い :

  • 近く

Also nouns can be formed by adding もの or こと to verbs in 終止形 and 連用形:

  • 笑い物 (using 連用形)

  • 笑い事 (using 連用形)

  • 笑うこと (using 終止形)

And also from just the 連用形:

  • 笑い

What is the difference in:

  1. the type of nouns formed between ~さ, ~み and ~く .

  2. between [Verb-連用形]+もの and [Verb-連用形]+こと?

  3. between [Verb-終止形]+こと and [Verb-連用形]

What are the other ways to produce nouns that are useful to know?

Like adding 主義 for example:

  • 資本(capital) turns into 資本主義(capitalism).
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The noun 近く is different from the 連体形 近く of the i-adjective 近い. – user458 Dec 1 '11 at 16:26
If you want to learn productive affixes like 主義, "How to Sound Intellegent in Japanese" has got everything you need: amazon.com/How-Sound-Intelligent-Japanese-Vocabulary/dp/… – Nate Glenn Dec 1 '11 at 20:18
up vote 1 down vote accepted
  1. The affix is used with i-adjectives in normal conditions. The exceptions (when is not used) is when an i-adjective is used for compounding or in the plain non-past form, which ends with . is known as an affix generally used to change an i-adjective or na-adjective into a noun. is an affix that idiocyncratically attaches to some i-adjectives that it particularly selects. It only attaches to some selected i-adjectives and its meaning tends to be idiosyncratic, as contrasted to nouns created by .

  2. What is traditionally called 連用形 is, in modern linguistic point of view, nothing more than a mere verb stem (followed by an epenthetic vowel i in case of a consonant ending verb (五段動詞)). Verb stems seem to be able to be used as a noun. Particularly, what you are mentioning here is actually verb-stem + もの or verb-stem + こと, and these are compounds. Therefore, their meaning is idiosyncratic, and cannot be derived systematically. You have to look into the differences between verb-stem + もの and verb-stem + こと case by case.

  3. 終止形 + こと is a noun phrase headed by the formal noun こと with an appositive clause. It can generally be translated as the fact that ..., the event that ...., etc.

share|improve this answer
One explanation often given for the difference between さ and み is that the former is used for something that can be objectively measured (長さ, 広さ), while the latter is used for more subjective concepts (悲しみ, 赤み). Do you think that this is accurate? – Matt Dec 2 '11 at 5:18
Also, you seem to have missed the [Verb-連用形] (with no もの/こと) in the final point. I assume that this refers to phenomena like, for example, 作り in "丈夫な作り". – Matt Dec 2 '11 at 5:22
@Matt Your point about is correct and accurate. I slightly edited my answer to answer your second point. A verb stem without もの/こと can be handeled as a noun, and with もの/こと, it becomes compound nouns. – user458 Dec 2 '11 at 6:12

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