In a previous question about コーヒー割り I learned that 割り is a form of the verb 割{わ}る "to dilute".

Now I'm trying to understand the grammatical process by which this 割り form of 割る can be added to nouns such as 水 and コーヒー.

I've learned that 割り is the -i form, conjunctive, continuative, or 連用形{れんようけい} form of the verb. In fact it turns out that I keep asking questions about this form from different angles, not realizing it's the same thing each time!

Now when I look up Wikipedia to learn more about this form and how it is being used in コーヒー割り I actually find that -i forms are usually used as prefixes.

So this must be an "unusual" case since it appears to be being used like a suffix. What is this particular use of the -i form? How can I understand and use constructions of this type generally?


2 Answers 2


-i form of a verb, among other things, can be used to form nouns that are derived from this verb. For example

to discount (v) -> discount (n): 割り{わり}引く{びく} -> 割引{わりびき}

to rest/to have take a day off (v) -> rest/holiday (n): 休{やす}む -> 休{やす}み

to apply (v) -> application (n): 申{もう}し込{こ}む -> 申{もう}し込{こ}み

So I believe this is not the case of a verb form being a suffix but rather of a noun formed from a verb.

This is also similar in case of words from your previous question. For example, my dictionary shows the following example for 水割り, which suggests it being a noun:


  • Ah so it's somewhat like an English gerund / present participle or infinitive? Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 9:57
  • I'm not sure if you can make a direct comparison to English in this case. Note that sometimes in English the form of verb and noun is the same, e.g. cited above discount, sometimes changes.
    – Szymon
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 10:00
  • Yes that's why I said "somewhat". You can almost never make direct comparisons between any features of any two languages really. Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 10:01
  • 1
    @hippietrail Most any 連用形 of a verb can be used like a noun. But 連用形 of adjectives are different and can't be used like nouns, with a few exceptions. (Some linguists suggest that the two don't form a coherent category, but many follow traditional grammar in treating them as the same thing because of their other similarities.)
    – user1478
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 13:11

This is just a thought that is too long for a comment but based on the following 水割り seems to be the natural order:

To dilute with water = 水で割る ー> 水割り

To take a 1/10th, or 10% = 一割 (same order); 15%= 一割5分 (seems logical)

If we look at other words containing 割り then the order they come is consistent with what you would expect in long form, eg:

Ratio: 割合 would be consistent with 割り合う

(I have never seen this verb used but 合う will normally be the second verb in a construction such as 話し合う)

Allotment: 割り当て would be consistent with 割り当てる

(which does exist)

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