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I keep seeing examples of words where 物 is tacked on the end to mean "things." 食べ物, 飲み物, つまらない物, etc. Are there any restrictions as to what can precede 物? Can I, for example, say something like 青い物, 幸せ物, or even 死に物?

I guess 食べ物 is often translated into English as the noun "food", not "edible things." Is this merely a more natural translation or does 食べ物 literally imply "anything that can be eaten" (as opposed to "things that should be/are typically eaten")?

In French, there are seemingly highly-specific verbs like jaunir (to turn yellow) and bleuir (to turn blue). They act like they follow a similar pattern whereby any color can be transformed into a verb of this sort. (My French is very rusty, so please excuse me if this is an inaccurate assumption.) Does 物 perhaps have a similar flexibility whereby 「X物」 can always mean something like "things to X?"

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

There are verb-stem + もの and verb-stem + こと, and these are compound words. Their meanings are idiosyncratic, and cannot be derived systematically.

Consider:

  • 食べ物 - food (the physical object being eaten)

  • 笑い物 - laughingstock (the physical object(person) being laughed at)

  • 笑い事 - laughing matter (an intangible incident)

  • 遊び物 - plaything/toy (tangible)

  • 遊び事 - recreation (intangible)

Both nouns turn a verb into a thing; 物 turns the verb into a tangible thing and 事 turns the verb into a conceptual thing.

Are there any restrictions as to what can precede 物?

I guess your restrictions depend on if you want it to be a tangible thing or a conceptual thing. Or if it is not possible for the thing to exist tangibly then there is no compound with 物.

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もの has a massive amount uses in Japanese.

I can't cover them all here, so I will stick to just the grammar point you are asking about.

The basic translation is "Thing to (with)".

The words are all pretty much all decided. You can't say 行き物 for example.

Note that つまらないもの is completely different grammar to the above and has a different meaning.

Also note that in causes outside this grammar the kanji for もの is often different.

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