I'm reading a novel 「キッチン」by 吉本ばなな at the moment and I noticed that she uses ゆく in some places as an auxiliary verb to signify the action progression from here or from now (if my understanding is correct). I can quote two examples:


[...] はるかに淡い空に薄い雲がゆっくりと流れてゆく

So far in my study of Japanese I have encountered いく used this way. Can ゆく be used the same way? Will those sentences have the same meaning if ゆく was replaced by いく? Is ゆく commonly used this way in modern Japanese?

  • The answer to this question may help.
    – null
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 12:13
  • @Noir Thanks. Yes, I have seen this before but I'm not sure if it's completely relevant to my question.
    – Szymon
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 12:16
  • I think it is. Please see ゆく#13
    – null
    Commented May 18, 2014 at 12:22
  • 5
    Both are correct and both mean the same thing. It is a matter of personal choice as to which one people usually use. However, that does not mean the two are interchangeable all the time because ゆく does not lend itself to all of the modern conjugations which いく does. One can say いった、いって、いったら, etc., but one cannot say ゆった、ゆって、ゆったら, etc. If you used those, native speakers would without fail think that you were trying to conjugate the verb [言]{ゆ}う instead of ゆく.
    – user4032
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 11:39
  • 1
    @非回答者 Can you add your comment as an amswer, please? This way this question will have a proper answer.
    – Szymon
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 1:13

2 Answers 2


I agree with l'électeur that it is quite common to pronounce 言{い}う as 言{ゆ}う for example...


However going back to ゆく

行{い}く although often interchangeably pronounced 行{ゆ}く when spoken, is also written that way commonly when referring to things like destination


In more detail (and taken from a Japanese Q and A site) http://oshiete.goo.ne.jp/qa/1637122.html - 日本語


The ゆく reading represents the passage of time, wheras いく is used when referring to a person, representing the movement of goods.

  • +1 for the last highlighted area.
    – sova
    Commented Mar 8, 2015 at 5:59

Oftentimes I come across this particular way of adjusting/mutating iku to yuku when talking about background/weather events.

It would not be wrong to put "iku" in its stead, but "yuku" is almost like a "and so the rug goes on, being pulled out from under our feet" as opposed to "there he goes pulling the rug out"

One would also say "yuku" for the transmigration of one's spirit upon death.

It's like a "graceful drawing out" or "graceful drawing/dawning upon," where 'yuku' dances. Iku would just not have the same effect.

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