Wikipedia claims that Japanese verbs are a closed class and that loanwords from Chinese always use する. 信じる, 感じる seems to be an exception. Why aren't they 信をする and 感をする? Maybe because one kanji is too short?

Also, what is the origin of the ending じる used with these two borrowed verbs?

  • There are also 略す, 愛す, etc. which are not of the form noun + を + する. Also, what's sometimes called する verb should not have the を, like 勉強する needn't be 勉強をする...
    – Earthliŋ
    Mar 13, 2013 at 0:30
  • 愛す makes sense because in CJ the verb する was just す at the end of sentences right? So 愛する人 but 人は愛す? Probably a source of confusion when the two forms were merged, with somebody using the shorter す and others using する?
    – ithisa
    Mar 13, 2013 at 0:31
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    su is the original conclusive form (終止形) of the verb. suru is the attributive (連体形) form of it. Conclusive merged into attributive, so suru now the norm.
    – Dono
    Mar 13, 2013 at 0:33
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    ryaku su is the formal, classical form. It is a サ変 verb because su (and suru) is サ変. When conclusive merged into attributive (su -> suru), it too became ryaku suru. This is still a サ変 verb. In addition, ryaku su was re-analyzed as a single word ryakusu. As a result, it looses the サ変 conjugation and takes on 五段. In summary, there now three forms: 1) サ変 ryaku su, 2) サ変 ryaku suru, and 3) 五段 ryakusu.
    – Dono
    Mar 13, 2013 at 2:44
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    In some words (such as 閉じる), じる isn't from す(る). In these words, it's a respelling of ぢる, which, I think, comes from づ(る) (as in 閉づ).
    – user1478
    Mar 13, 2013 at 5:51

2 Answers 2


-ziru is from -zuru, which in turn is verb -suru voiced due to compounding. zuru becomes ziru during the push to normalize verbs to 一段 class.

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    "the push to normalize verbs to 一段 class". Hmm that confused me a bit. So in a period of history, language teachers purposefully changed words to 一段?
    – ithisa
    Mar 13, 2013 at 0:30
  • Language teachers did not push it. Languages naturally change. I covered this topic earlier this week.
    – Dono
    Mar 13, 2013 at 0:31
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    "I covered this topic earlier this week." I'm even more puzzled ^_^ where are you covering this? Japanese historical phonology I like very much.
    – ithisa
    Mar 13, 2013 at 0:32
  • Link: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/11392/…
    – Dono
    Mar 13, 2013 at 0:34
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    @EricDong yes, I didn't explain that well. I'm treating 愛す(る) as a regular 五段 愛す with a suppleted 終止形・連体形 愛する. I believe that's the most common modern use. Treating it as サ変 would mean that the negative is 愛しない. I've never heard that (in modern use), but I could be wrong.
    – dainichi
    Mar 18, 2013 at 7:12

Japanese verbs as a class

The Word class system section of the Japanese grammar Wikipedia article does currently state that Japanese verbs and adjectives are closed classes. Strictly speaking, I don't think this is quite correct -- closed classes don't have new members, and generally don't have many members. Japanese verbs are quite numerous indeed, and it's not uncommon for new ones to pop up -- witness recent neologisms like ググる "to Google", or スタバる "to go to Starbucks". Sure, these are slang, but they're also new verbs. It's also not unheard of for folks to coin new verbs by just tacking a -る on the end, such as クッキングる "to cooking" > humorous for "to cook", or ドライビングる "to driving" > humorous for "to drive [a vehicle]".

That said, I think it would be accurate to say that -jiru verbs are a closed class. These all seem to have arisen through regular sound changes from [single kanji] + transitive verb suffix す.

Shinjiru and other -jiru verbs

As an addendum to Dono's answer, Shogakukan's entries suggest that these [single kanji] + じる terms were originally used as verbs in Japanese by simply appending す, the transitive auxiliary verb (superseded by modern する). This す then became ず due to rendaku caused by the final ん in 信{しん}, and then became ずる when the attributive and terminal forms for verbs fused, and finally became じる due to the shift to ichidan verbs that Dono mentions.

You can track some of this back via online resources by starting at the Daijirin entry for 信じる. Note how it says:

  • 「 信ずる 」に同じ。
    Same as shinzuru.

Click on 信ずる and you'll jump straight to the 信ず entry. The second line here says:

  • 「信ず」の口語形としては、サ行変格活用の動詞「信ずる」が対応する。
    The colloquial form of shinzu is the sa-hen conjugation verb shinzuru.

So we have a clear historical progression:

  • [single kanji ending in ん] + す →
  • [single kanji] + ず →
  • [single kanji] + ずる →
  • [single kanji] + じる

Other examples include:

案{あん}じる  演{えん}じる  応{おう}じる  禁{きん}じる  準{じゅん}じる  

生{しょう}じる  談{だん}じる  転{てん}じる  封{ふう}じる  論{ろん}じる

Other terms borrowed from Chinese and used as verbs in Japanese historically took the form [kanji term] + す, with す again changing to する when the terminal and attributive verb forms merged. Rendaku generally didn't happen for multi-character words ending in ん, which is why you'll only see these -じる forms for single-character on'yomi terms, and mostly (but not always) where the on'yomi ends in ん.

  • Shogakukan publishes quite a few dictionaries, e.g. progressive, 大辞泉, 日本国語大辞典. I'm wondering which one you are referring to? Aug 28, 2014 at 9:24
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    Sorry for the delay in replying. The Shogakukan dictionary I use most is the electronic version of the JA-JA 日本国語大辞典(新装版), 1988. Oct 31, 2014 at 0:05

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