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From what I learned,

もらえる = もらうことが出来る
'can be got'

見える = 見ることが出来る
'can be seen'

This looks like there is some kind of a more general rule for this transformation.

  1. If there is a pair of such verbs, is the one with ~え~ always meaning ~ことが出来る?
  2. Is there any rule when can I create a ~え~ verb this way?
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見える does not exactly mean 見ることが 出来る. There is a difference between 見える and 見られる. – istrasci Dec 8 '11 at 21:10
up vote 1 down vote accepted

They are some ways to get verbs end with える:

  1. 五段動詞 can change the last kana to え段 and add る to form a kind of 可能動詞, like:

    もらう → もらえる
    書く → 書ける
    飛ぶ → 飛べる

    They have a similar meaning of the "れる" form : もらわれる 書かれる 飛ばれる. In modern Japanese, the れる form is not so popular as the form of "可能動詞".

  2. える is a verb that can be used after the 連用形 of other verbs to show ability or possibility:

    ある → ありえる
    起こる → 起こりえる

みえる and 聞こえる (I don't know if there are more) are another story, they are from みゆ and きこゆ in classic Japanese.

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No to both of your questions. You are mixing up different things.

  • もらえる is the potential form of the verb もらう, and it means the same thing as もらうことができる.

  • 見える 'can be seen, is observable' is related to the verb 見る 'see', but means a different thing. The construction is different from 見ることができる.

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My teacher introduced もらえる as a simple verb, then I found 見える in a dictionary--so I thought these might be related. Thank you for explaining this. – liori Dec 9 '11 at 0:01

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