There is some discussion about "体言止め{たいげんどめ}" on the internet, but it is all in Japanese. My Japanese ability is too low to be able to read it, so I need some help.

At the least, "体言止め" refers to ending a sentence with a サ変名詞{へんめいし} and omitting the "をする". "体言止め" is more than just this, but I'm not sure what.

"体言止め" translates to "ending a sentence with a noun or a noun phrase." But, I hope a little more context could be provided.

  • 8
    「文を名詞で終えることが体言止め。」 is an example of 体言止め. 「文を名詞で終えることが体言止めである。」 is not.
    – user4032
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


The term 体言止め refers to ending a sentence with a 体言. So, what's a 体言?

In Japanese school grammar, a 体言{たいげん} is a type of word which has the following traits:

  1. It is an independent word. (It does not depend on another word, like 助詞 or 助動詞 do.)
  2. It does not inflect. (In other words, it has only one form.)
  3. It can be the subject of a sentence.

At a minimum, this includes at least 名詞{めいし} (nouns) and 代名詞{だいめいし} (pronouns), though some definitions include other word classes as well. For example, 明鏡 says that some theories include 形容動詞の語幹 (what many learners call な-adjectives, but without the な), apparently ignoring the third requirement. Most commonly people use 体言 to refer to nouns, though.

In any case, 体言止め is a fairly simple concept—ending a sentence with a 体言. That means:

  • Your example of omitting をする is 体言止め because the word before をする is a 体言.
  • Omitting だ or である (etc.) at the end of a sentence can be 体言止め for the same reason.
  • You can also form 体言止め by inverting the normal word order: 「星が輝く」 → 「輝く星」

And so on. Dictionaries say that it was originally mainly a stylistic poetic device, appearing in 和歌 and 俳句 and so forth, but it's certainly not limited to poetry. You'll also see it in advertisements, in magazine articles, in the news, in documentaries, and all over, really. It can be used for effect, or it can simply be used to make your writing more compact.

If you do end a sentence with a 体言, make sure that whatever words you're omitting can be inferred from context.

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    @kinyo In Japanese grammar, when you move a verb before a noun, it's still a verb, not an "adjective participle". It can be said to be in its 連体形 (adnominal form), and I think that its function is called 連体修飾 (adnominal modification).
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 16:18
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    @kinyo No; in English, words in attributive position modify nouns. Both nouns ("atom bomb") and adjectives ("atomic bomb") can have attributive function. At any rate, English grammar has no bearing on what part of speech 飲む might be; it is definitely not an adjective.
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 2:03
  • Would you at least agree that "飲む" modifies "人"?
    – davewp
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 2:13
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    @kinyo Yes. As I said before, it can be said to be in its 連体形 (adnominal form), and I think that its function is called 連体修飾 (adnominal modification).
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 2:18
  • @snailplane Are you sure that a verb you get form 体言止め (as in 「星が輝く」 → 「輝く星」) is technically the same as the 連体形 you see in regular sentences? for example 「水を飲む人」 can result from either 「水を飲む人がいる」 or 「人が水を飲む」 in both cases 飲む would be the same? thanks.
    – Ryan
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 4:13

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