According to all standard book and webpage I consulted, godan verb's potential form are produced by first changing to え (e) form, and then add in る (ru).

But a native Japanese speaker (who is also fluent in English) told me that what needed to be added should be られる (rareru) rather than just る (ru), and added that "youth these day" keep dropping sounds from words. Its applicability to godan verb was specifically mentioned with specific example, so there was not a confusion with ichidan verb. It is also mentioned that this apply to both positive and negative potential too. I asked around, and it seems like colloquially the ら (ra) often get dropped in casual conversation. However, I cannot find anyway for the れ (re) to be dropped. It seems rude to go back and query further on the question, especially since it would sound like I am accusing that person of not knowing their own language.

So I would like to ask, if anyone know possible register's or dialectical differences, be it between different region, or between generation, or between texting and talking, or whatever, that would require to add られる (rareru) instead of just る (ru) for the potential form for godan verb? Thank you.

  • 1
    Plenty of people don't know their own language, including this person (clearly).
    – istrasci
    Nov 22, 2013 at 6:02

1 Answer 1


Ichidan verbs add られる but young people add れる instead, perhaps to disambiguate between it and the passive, which also ends in られる (one of the only conjugation collisions of Japanese!). So standard Japanese: 食べられる, some colloquial speakers say 食べれる (食べられる meaning "to be eaten" is never contracted). This can be thought of adding られ or れ to the stem; don't think of the る as it is simply the present tense ending. The native speaker you are talking to may be confusing 五段 with 一段, which after all is easy to forget as native speakers don't really need to keep grammar terms in order to speak!

This has nothing to do with godan verbs, which really form the potential in typical Japanese recursive fashion, shifting the vowel and then using it as an ichidan verb (会う aw- => 会える a(w)e-). So 書く always becomes 書ける, 読む 読める, etc.

  • Ah thanks for the more detailed explanation about the lost ら(ra) for ichidan verb. But I already thought of the possibility of confusion between godan verb and ichidan verb, so I asked for specific example, and 歌う and 手伝う was given and claimed to be conjugated to 歌えられる and 手伝えられる so it couldn't be this confusion. And I cannot think of any other possible confusion, so I just think that maybe it is something specific to a dialect or a generation. Thanks for the answer but I am still holding out for more answer for the time being in case someone have other info.
    – Gina
    Nov 22, 2013 at 5:38
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    As a native speaker, I would say with 100% certainty that those are NOT the kind of mistakes that native speakers would make. You may have been speaking to one of those internet people that claim to be Japanese. I also need to say that the possibility of those weird forms being dialectic would be zilch because if they were, the person would surely have mentioned it AND given you the standard forms. We ONLY learn standard in Japanese schools if you did not know it. I hate to think about what other bogus you may have been taught by this person.
    – user4032
    Nov 22, 2013 at 9:32
  • The potential of 歌う etc being 歌える etc has an extremely long history, and is absolutely correct. Basically, stem+已然形 (-e) gives you the potential stem. Said Japanese person is probably being ignorant and thinking that replacing /e/ with /rare/ obviously makes things "correct" since ichidan verbs work that way.
    – ithisa
    Nov 22, 2013 at 11:38
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    A native speaker would never say 歌えられる or 手伝えられる! ><
    – user1016
    Nov 22, 2013 at 13:22
  • 1
    @Gina I am surrounded by "youth these days" but never ever hear a form like 歌えられる or 手伝えられる. No way.
    – user4032
    Nov 25, 2013 at 22:49

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