活用. The inflections of verbs. How the endings of verbs change to reflect grammatical factors such as tense and aspect.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

58
votes
5answers
11k views

Differences among -たら、なら、-んだったら、-えば, etc

Japanese language has a lot of patterns for "if" clauses. What are the differences among the following patterns and how do we choose to use one over the others?: 行ったら 行くなら 行けば 行くんだったら 行くのなら 行くとしたら ...
33
votes
7answers
7k views

What is the difference between the negative forms -ず and -ぬ?

-ず and -ぬ are two alternatives to the negative form -ない / -ません. But I noticed that depending on the word, it's either -ず or -ぬ, although it seems like some words can take both suffixes. Some examples ...
27
votes
5answers
4k views

Does -ou / -you / -mashou conjugation have a negative form?

Does the -ou / -you / -mashou (the "let's X") form have a negative counterpart? For example, how do I say "let's not X" for the following?: 行こう 食べよう 寝ましょう As far as I can remember, the Japanese ...
20
votes
2answers
596 views

Why is it なさそう and not なそう

"It seems there is none" is なさそう, which escapes the usual rule for 形容詞 (イ-adjectives), which says "drop the い and add そう". Is there a historical explanation for this exception? And does it have ...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

~うございます - keigo い-adjectives

I'm not sure if this is actual keigo, or just a polite form of adjectives. Anyway, there are several that we're all familiar with that are still used today. はやい → おはようございます ありがたい → ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is 知りません the negative form of 知っています?

I'm reading Minna no Nihongo (Chapter 15) and it says what I wrote in the question. I would think the negative would be 知っていません。
17
votes
3answers
3k views

Is Japanese really an agglutinative language?

In the linguistics topic of language typology, Japanese is often included in lists of agglutinative (or agglutinating) languages, but when learning or reading about Japanese grammar exclusively this ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What exactly does an adjective stem + そう mean?

The other day I posted a picture of some food on Facebook, and I noticed that all of my Japanese friends were saying 「おいしそう」. I made a good guess to what it meant, but I wasn't certain what exactly ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Why isn't ある's negative form あらない?

ある is listed in dictionaries as having ラ行五段活用, which would suggest a negative form of あらない. However, that form does not exist. Why not?
14
votes
1answer
303 views

General applicability of the ~ませ conjugation

I have only found the ~ませ conjugation used in the following honorific verbs: いらっしゃいませ くださいませ なさいませ Can the conjugation be applied to other honorific verbs, like おっしゃいませ or めしあがりませ? Or even common ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Meaning of ぬ added to 連用形 / masu-stem, as in 風立ちぬ

What does the ぬ at the end of 立ち specify? I can't find a verb that is just 立ちぬ, is this some kind of special form? Can this be done with other verbs as well? 風立ちぬ, for reference, is Miyazaki's new ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the difference between 見える【みえる】/聞こえる【きこえる】 and 見られる【みられる】/聞ける【きける】?

In Japanese, there is a potential form to express that it's possible for something to be done. My own examples of potential form: 辛【から】い食【た】べ物【もの】が食【た】べられる。 (I can eat spicy foods.) ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between [plain form of verb]~そう and [root of verb]~そう?

I heard both forms of [plain form of verb]~そう and [root of verb]~そう in an anime I watched, reproduced below, so I'm wondering how are they different and how to choose to use one over the other? ...
13
votes
4answers
428 views

“Unsolvable problem”

What is the correct construction of "unsolvable problem"? Is it "解{と}けられない問題{もんだい}"?(Question 1) Plain(intransitive): 解{と}ける "To be solved". Potential form(of intransitive): 解けられる "can be ...
13
votes
4answers
582 views

In what ways do Japanese children overgeneralize conjugation patterns?

(Preface: I'm not well-versed in language acquisition, so the context I've provided here will be dumbed-down, or perhaps just dumb.) Context: When children acquire their first language, they ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Where does the verbal form しとく come from?

In a manga I am currently reading, one of the character exclaims: 安心しな。秘密に しとく から。 The general meaning of the second part ("I'll keep it a secret") is quite obvious, and it seems that "しとく" ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

How to differentiate ~られる conjugation between passive form and potential form?

For verbs of group 2, whose ~ます form is formed by dropping the ending ~る from the plain form, both the passive and potential forms have the same conjugation: ~られる. Example: 食べられる 1. to be eaten ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

How to distinguish between passive and potential forms of the verb?

I've read that potential form of the ru-verb is formed by replacing る with られる, which is exactly the same for the passive form of ru-verbs. How can we tell the passive form and potential apart in this ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

About the な part in negative imperative verb form (e.g. 飲むな)

In the Japanese version of "don't drink and drive" slogan, 【乗るなら飲むな】 (also 【飲んだら乗るな】), what part of speech is the な that follows the plain verb 飲む (or 乗る in the second variation) to form the negative ...
11
votes
1answer
333 views

Difference between 書かないようになった and 書かなくなった?

Example sentences: ぜんぜん長い手紙を書かないようになった。 ぜんぜん長い手紙を書かなくなった。 My Translation: I never write long letters anymore. I believe they both mean the same thing but there's obviously some difference I ...
11
votes
2answers
3k views

About 「同{おな}じ」 and 「同{おな}じく」

As far as I know, 「[同じ]{おなじ}」 is not a 形容詞{けいようし} (-i adjective) so how does it become 「[同じく]{おなじく}」? Or does 「同じく」 not come from 「同じ」? Also, are there any other non i-adjectives that have -ku ...
11
votes
1answer
234 views

Meaning of せい conjugation of する?

I came upon this line of dialogue in a book I'm reading, from a character who has old-fashioned speech patterns: できる限りの鶏肉を用意せい… I assume this せい is some form of the verb する, though I'm not even sure ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

よかろう - What does it mean? Where does it come from?

This is another question that's come from a 昔話。 We have the following section: 大きい箱と小さい箱がありますが、どちらがいいですか。 どちらも結構じゃが、どうしてもと言うのなら、小さいほうでよかろう。 I'm having trouble with the second sentence. My ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

What exactly is the difference between <verb>-てしまう and <verb>- [切]{き}る?

I've read that both the ~てしまう and ~きる (18th meaning of 切る at http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1MUE%E5%88%87%E3%82%8B) forms are used to signify something has been ...
10
votes
3answers
933 views

Are there more irregular verbs like 行く?

I thought when you have a consonant-stem verb ending with -ku you replace it with -ita. For example kaku ("to write") becomes kaita. But this doesn't happen with iku, which becomes itta, so I guess ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do we use 〜ないで instead of 〜なくて before auxiliary ください?

I was taught in college that the 〜ない verb conjugation behaves like an i-adjective, thus it has 〜く form, it takes 〜ければ for "if" scenario, it modifies the noun that follows it etc. Also, I know that the ...
10
votes
1answer
350 views

What form is 恐るる?

In Final Fantasy VIII, Bahamut has a little speech: …G.F.とは我らのことか 我らを力として使うとは… 恐るるべきは人間どもよ I'd never seen two るs doubled up like that. Which conjugation is this? It seems to have plenty of ...
10
votes
2answers
309 views

Which verbs have 辞書形 (dictionary forms) that look like ~ます conjugations?

I recently confused 励{はげ}ます for the ~ます form of 禿{は}げる. Although this actually lead to a rather amusing conversation, I'm wondering if there are other examples of this to watch out for?
9
votes
2answers
890 views

What is the purpose of the suffix “さ” on adjectives?

What is the purpose of the suffix "さ" on adjectives like 美しさ and 多さ? The former is the title of an essay by Banana Yoshimoto, so I don't have much context for it. The book editors translated it as ...
9
votes
1answer
596 views

Usage and meaning of [passive verb]-てみれば

I am familiar with the set phrase 「言われてみれば」 as a way to say "Now that you say that", but as I examine the phrase further, the phrase structure strikes me as strange. The 〜てみる conjugation is commonly ...
9
votes
1answer
355 views

How should I use 始める (はじめる) and 始まる (はじまる) as a suffix to intransitive verbs?

When describing intransitive actions that are commencing, I often end up saying dumb things like 沸き始まる (わきはじまる) instead of 沸き始める (わきはじめる) - starting to boil. Perhaps it's some meta pattern I am ...
9
votes
1answer
364 views

Accent changes in conjugation

I find that Japanese pitch accent seems to have some sort of interaction with the morphology. For example, 早い is pronounced [はやい]{LHL}, but 早く is pronounced [はやく]{HLL}. Are these changes regular? No ...
8
votes
3answers
629 views

What's the difference between 言わないでほしい and 言ってほしくない

What's the difference between 言わないでほしい and 言ってほしくない ? If the intended message is "I don't want you to say it" which of the two above would be more suitable?
8
votes
4answers
303 views

Is there a general rule for deriving xasu→xaseru intransitives such as 死なせる from 死なす?

There are a number of verbs where there is a 〜xasu → xaseru transformation to produce an transitive verb from an intransitive, eg: 死なす→死なせる 生かす→生かせる 飲ます→飲ませる Is this some kind of generalized rule? ...
8
votes
3answers
418 views

What conjugation/form is the ませ (for example: いらっしゃいませ)?

I know it's used for greetings in a restaurant or store. But what type of verb conjugation (ex: polite, plain, honorific, imperative, or something else) is it? Is it used with other verbs? Is it ...
8
votes
2answers
190 views

What conjugation of 願う is 願わくば, and what does it mean here?

This is my first post here, I'm sorry if I didn't follow any formatting or posting rules. Original sentence, from a character's monologue: 願わくばこの時間が少しでも長く続くことを。。。 The English translation I have ...
8
votes
2answers
344 views

What's the meaning of ず in 通ず? (Not a negative)

It's from the Japanese saying, 読書百遍意自ずから通ず(Repeated reading makes the meaning clear). In this case, the ず ending doesn't make the verb negative. What is the function and nuance of this usage? Is this ...
8
votes
2answers
383 views

Transitive/Intransitive + にくい (and +られる)

This question is based on the discussion arising from "Unsolvable Problem" Start of Excerpt Relevant discourse extracted from "Unsolvable Problem": Quoted from Derek Schaab's reply to ...
8
votes
1answer
830 views

Is ない an “auxiliary verb”?

My dictionary says 助動詞{じょどうし} means "auxiliary verb". This sounds intuitively correct; 動詞 means verb, so 助動詞 sounds like a type of verb. But the 助動詞「ない」 looks like an auxiliary adjective, not an ...
8
votes
1answer
236 views

Can けれども be analysed further?

Consider the conjunction ども, e.g.: 行けども 言えども Formation rule: Verb Hypothetical form (仮定形) + ども This leads me to hypothesise that the conjunction けれども (meaning "but; however; although") is ...
8
votes
1answer
329 views

When is it appropriate to use [v] ないでくれ instead of [v] な?

Initially I wanted to compare the rudeness level of [v]ないでくれ。 and[v]な。 but since that may be a rather vague question: In what situation is it appropriate to use [v]ないでくれ。 but not [v]な。 ? In what ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What does the “〜やしない” conjugation mean?

In episode 76 of Fairy Tail, Gildarts said this to Natsu: 本気でそう思ったら、止めやしないよ。 (honki de sou omottara, tomeyashinai yo) Which was translated in the subtitle as: If that's what you honestly ...
7
votes
3answers
426 views

What's the difference between [V-ながら][V2] and [V-ている]間[V2]?

What's the difference between [V-ながら][V2] and [V-ている]間[V2] ? For example, is there any difference in nuance between these 2 sentences: トムはテレビを見てる間勉強していた トムはテレビを見ながら勉強していた
7
votes
3answers
203 views

“After I do [x], I do [y]”?

So, I'm trying to construct a sentence along the lines of "After I do this action, I do that action," but I'm having the absolute hardest time figuring out what syntax and verb conjugations to use. ...
7
votes
2answers
415 views

Saying “as if to say” - What's happened to 言う in と言わんばかりに?

Can you help breakdown 言わん? 彼女は当たり前と言わんばかりに答えた She answered as if it was a matter of fact. Are these incorrect, have different meanings? 彼女は当たり前と言うばかりに答えた 彼女は当たり前なことばかりに答えた ...
7
votes
3answers
371 views

Which forms of a verb do I need to memorize to distinguish ichidan from godan?

Can I get away with memorizing only these two forms of a verb? Dictionary form かえる ("to return") Positive polite non-past form, like かえります If I compare these two forms, I can determine whether ...
7
votes
1answer
283 views

Does the verb 死ぬ has a 死ぬる form?

I have come across a conjugation of 死ぬ verb which I've never heard before. It is 死ぬる, I have heard it in a TV show, you can see the relevant part in this video. Is this a depreciated form? If so, ...
7
votes
4answers
700 views

Is こればよかった correct or not?

The Tanos JLPT list contains this sentence: ディズニーランドはとても面白かったよ。君もこればよかったのに。 Disneyland was very interesting. You should have come with us. But the accepted answer at Chiebukuro for ...
7
votes
1answer
348 views

Is 来おった the 連用形{れんようけい} of くる plus おる → おった?

I came across the following dialogue, which occurs right as the hero arrives: 「やっと来おったか。」 I'm not sure how to parse 来おった. Is it 来{き} + 居{お}る? If so, what exactly does this form mean? Do other ...
7
votes
3answers
100 views

Help on Adjective Conjugation

Just done with my adjective lessons and have a question on the same. The question may be too silly, but its a road block to my thought process so need some advice. I have learned in basic lessons ...