From this dialogue:



why is 降り続けて in its potential form?

enter image description here

Doesn't it make more sense to use 降り続いて here to make it

Snow is still falling.

Continuously, snow is falling.

rather than

Snow is still falling.

Continuously, snow is able-to-be falling.

3 Answers 3


From 明鏡国語辞典:

㈠ 〘他〙
❶ ある動作や状態を中断させることなく保つ。〔意図的なものにもそうでないものにもいう〕
❷ 間をおかずに物事を繰り返し行う。また、そのたびごとに同じ物事を繰り返し行う。

続ける is a transitive verb meaning "to continue" "to repert" etc. when used on its own (difinition ㈠ above), and can attach to the continuative form (連用形) of a verb to create a compound verb (複合動詞), meaning "lit. do ~~ continuously without pausing" → "keep ~~ing, continue to do~~" (difinition ㈡ above). Examples given include 降り続ける.

広辞苑 has an entry:


デジタル大辞泉 also has an entry for 降り続く here.

So we have:

  • [降]{ふ}り続ける・降り続く(自動詞)
  • 上がり続ける(自動詞)×上がり続く
  • 上げ続ける(他動詞)×上げ続く
  • 回り続ける(自動詞)×回り続く
  • 回し続ける(他動詞)×回し続く
  • 鳴り続ける(自動詞)?鳴り続く
  • 鳴らし続ける(他動詞)×鳴らし続く

According to NHK:

「雨が降り続けている」という表現は×,という指導を受けた。語感として理解はできるが,文 法的に何が間違いなのか。「川の水が流れ続けている」はいいと思うがどうだろうか。
また,動詞は,通常「●●続ける」という形をとることが多く,「(降り)続く」という表現が多 い「雨」は例外的と言えるであろう。

降り続ける and 降り続く are both correct, some prefer to use 降り続く over 降り続ける, verbs normally take ~~続ける form, and the word 降り続く is an exception.

  • You probably misinterpreted note about "[文]つづ・く", specifically see that it is followed by "(下二)". This means that in Middle/Classical Japanese this verb itself had 終止形 = 続く and belonged to 下二段活用 class. There was also 続く verb belonging to 四段活用 (五段活用 in modern language). Only 終止形 of these 2 verbs were identical. Other forms were different, e.g. 続く(四段活用) had 連用形 = 続き and 連体形 = 続く, while 続く(下二段活用) had 連用形 = 続け and 連体形 = 続くる. You can check conjugation tables in en.wiktionary.org/wiki/続く or ja.wiktionary.org/wiki/つづく#古典日本語 .
    – Arfrever
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 6:14
  • @Arfrever わかりました!ありがとうございます!
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 6:35

Here 続ける is not a potential of 続く, but a separate verb with the (almost identical?) meaning "to continue, to keep up". So, it's just "it keeps on raining"

P.S. It seems that 続く is used with nouns (as in smth continues), while 続ける with verbs (to keep on doing), with 降り being an exception which can be used with both (続く is more common) (https://www.easyjapanesee.com/verb-stem%e7%b6%9a%ef%bc%88%e3%81%a4%e3%81%a5%ef%bc%89%e3%81%91%e3%82%8b/)

  • 「テレビを見続ける。眠り続ける。」はよくて「テレビを見続く。眠り続く。」はダメなのに (ここから)、「降り続ける・降り続く」はどうして両方いけるんでしょうねぇ…
    – chocolate
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 8:18
  • @Chocolate 1) I don't know 2) Just guessing: from the examples I see in jisho, 続く is used with plain nouns and not verbal nouns (except for 降り). Maybe 降り feels noun-y enough to be used with 続く? After all, it has a separate entry in the dictionary as "rainfall, snowfall" Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 9:09
  • 2
    Seems like ふり is an exception: easyjapanesee.com/… Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 9:28
  • 1
    It looks like 続ける is the transitive variant of 続く, which is confusing since "snow is falling" (雪が降り続けています) seems like an intransitive use case, but the transitive verb (続ける) is being used. Hmm.
    – George
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 15:53
  • 3
    @George as far as I understand, this specific construct - to continue doing - uses verb stem + 続ける regardless of verb's transitivity. It works the same way in Russian - "to continue doing" always uses transitive version of "continue". Not that it's relevant for Japanese, but it shows that Japanese us not unique in that regard. Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 17:48

When a verb is used as an auxiliary verb in constructions like you quote, in general it is not relevant whether the verb is intransitive (such as 続く) or transitive (such as 続ける), except that when the action is beyond human control, the intransitive candidate of the pairs 止む・止める and 続く・続ける is used, thus, 雨が降り止んだ, 風が吹き止んだ, 雨が降り続いた, 風が吹き続いた. As an exception to this rule, note however that 降り始まった (降りでた) is not acceptable, the correct form being 降り始めた (降りだした).

  • 「風が吹き続けた」ならいいですけど、「風が吹き続いた」はよくないですね。。。
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 3:37
  • 冬の中西北の富士おろしが吹きつづくと、崖の竹藪や庭の樹きが物すごく騒ぎ立てると鐘の声という短編小説には永井荷風は書きますが。
    – N. Hunt
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 5:16
  • 訂正 鐘の声ではなく鐘声という題名です。
    – N. Hunt
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 5:59
  • へえ、永井荷風ですか、びっくりですねえ。。ちょっと古い表現なんですかね。。??
    – chocolate
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 7:11
  • 時代を遡らないまでもインターネットでこの言い方を探してみれば、現代の例は数多く現れますので、別に古い表現ではなさそうです。
    – N. Hunt
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 2:10

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