I found this sentence in an anime.


The context is that this lady is dying and a guy says to her that her daughters will be sad.

I understand that he transformed the adjective 悲しい into a noun 悲しみ.

Is the ます a short します ? It would make sense but I didn't know you could do that.

Thank you

2 Answers 2


You're right, there is a い adjective called 悲しい. But the verb 悲しむ is what really is being used here, which is in its ます form. This form is called 丁寧語 (ていねいご) or what I'd call your standard polite language

  • I didn't even realized it was the verb 悲しむ ... thank you very much for your answer !
    – Unaware17
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 21:47

I want to offer more detail because I find the underlying grammatical system quite interesting.

I understand that he transformed the adjective 悲しい into a noun 悲しみ.

There are in a sense two transformations: adjective->verb->noun. I'll explain them backwards for reasons that will hopefully become clear.

  1. Apparent nouns that come from transformations of verbs, that have an i-vowel ending... are really just the i-stem ([連]{れん}[用]{よう}[形]{けい}) of that verb. They are roughly comparable to gerunds in English (noun-like forms ending in "ing"). While forming the i-stem of a verb is used for a few conjugations (in particular attaching ます), in my analysis it is really a kind of nominalization.

    The relationship is clearer considering e.g. [書]{か}く "to draw/write" gives 書き - this one seems to appear rarely if ever by itself, but appears in tons of compound forms, such as [手]{て}書き "handwriting", 書き[取]{と}り "transcription/dictation" (the same thing happened to the verb 取る here!), 書き[込]{こ}む "to fill out a form / populate data" etc.

    (In English, the gerund "writing", constructed regularly from the verb "to write", means the act of writing as an abstract concept; but we also use the same word to refer to a thing that was written. The analogous Japanese grammatical forms have similar flexibility. This is not to be confused with the English gerundive "writing", which is adjectival, and describes some entity which is in the process of writing. That's more like a Japanese te-form.)

  2. The しい class of i-adjectives often have a corresponding verb form where い is replaced by む. This can be seen as a sort of conjugation, transforming the stative, intransitive adjective (typically describing an emotion) into a transitive verb: the act of feeling that emotion for some specific thing or cause (which is even marked with を rather than に).

    This implies, regularly, a gerund form with しむ. You may have seen the expression [楽]{たの}しみにする "to look forward to something" (lit.: act towards fun-having). Indeed, we can see that dictionaries will list 悲しみ "sadness, grief" as a separate form, because it's used that way in addition to being the i-stem of 悲しむ (the predicted meaning could be something like "[act of] grieving, mourning" as abstract concepts).

Is the ます a short します ? It would make sense but I didn't know you could do that.

It doesn't really make sense. It sounds like your mental model is that 悲しみ is an ordinary noun that can form a "suru verb", and that する->します is then being shortened to ます. I'm not aware of any such shortening, and I'm not aware of any examples of these forms functioning as suru verbs. After all, what we have in these cases already derives from a verb; why would an auxiliary be necessary?

Instead, since 悲しみ is already the 連用形 of 悲しむ, we can directly attach ます just as we would in any other case. Such as, for example, する itself: it has a 連用形 of し. (I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the use of し as an emphatic conjunctive particle, ultimately derives from this somehow.)

  • very interesting, thank you very much. So much to comprehend, it really is fascinating. And I now feel less dumb for asking that question
    – Unaware17
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 9:03

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