Just wondering If choosing a reading is as simple as whether 得る is a suffix.

This is from tatoeba.org, a wiki-like sentence mine, so I'm not sure if える, the reading entered is correct.

彼はとてもよく訓練された役者だけが本当に成功し得ると思っている。 He thinks that only very well trained actors can be really successful.

3 Answers 3


得る is usually read as える. This is the "modern" verb-form of 得(う) (shimo-nidan).


Modern: え/え/える/える/えれ/えよ
Classic: え/え/う/うる/うれ/えよ

One thing to note is that for MZK and RTK, either conjugation is え, so you will never-ever read 得ない as "unai" etc, and because you never really see classical SSK in regular text (since SSK and RTK are read the same in modern Japanese) you'll probably never have to read it as 得(う). The only time you read it as うる is if it's a sentence ending or directly modifying something. But again, the うる reading itself is pretty rare. The only thing I tend to see is an occasional あり得る(ありうる), but you can read that as (ありえる) anyway.

For that particular sentence: 彼はとてもよく訓練された役者だけが本当に成功し得ると思っている

^I would guess 'しえる', just because える is more common. し得る on my IME comes up as a candidate for both しえる and しうる.


MZK=未然形=Mizenkei (ex: ない attaches)
RYK=連用形=Renyoukei (ex: て/た/ます attach)
SSK=終止形=Shuushikei (ex: end of sentence when NOT a question)
RTK=連体形=Rentaikei (ex: declarative, bound ending, question ending)
IZK=已然形=Izenkei (ex: ば (conditional in modern/"when"-only in classical))
MRK=命令形=Meireikei (ex: imperative "commands") 
  • 2
    Could you make it clearer what "MZK/RYK/SSK/RTK/IZK/MRK" means?
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 2:09
  • 1
    @Amanda_S They're the base conjugation forms for Japanese verbs. /////////////// //MZK=未然形=Mizenkei (ex: ない attaches) //RYK=連用形=Renyoukei (ex: て/た/ます attach) //SSK=終止形=Shuushikei (ex: end of sentence when NOT a question) //RTK=連体形=Rentaikei (ex: declarative, bound ending, question ending) //IZK=已然形=Izenkei (ex: ば (conditional in modern/"when"-only in classical)) //MRK=命令形=Meireikei (ex: imperative "commands") /////////////// I'm just using what I've found are the common abbreviations for them. Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 2:46
  • @Kafka I don't understand how RYK can be as you described, since the root for the た・て forms is not the same as the ます root in most verbs (e.g. 書く 書いて 書きます).
    – rintaun
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 7:46
  • 2
    @rintaun That is due to a morphotactic rule that changes kak-ite into kaite. This rule is known as イ音便.
    – user458
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 10:22
  • @sawa That explains it. Thank you very much. :)
    – rintaun
    Commented Jul 13, 2011 at 17:27

Both readings can be suffixes and both can be used in many of the common constructions of 得る:

当を得る (to be in order):【とうをうる】or 【とうをえる】

あり得る (to be probable): 【ありえる】or 【ありうる】

etc. etc.

Yahoo dict says:

◆[...] また、終止するときは文語形の「うる」となることがあり、特に5の終止形・連体形は「うる」を用いることが多い。→う(得)る


Just to add some (hopefully useful to you too) info on this subject: http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/potential:

You can say that something has a possibility of existing by combining 「ある」 and the verb 「得る」 to produce 「あり得る」. This essentially means 「あることができる」 except that nobody actually says that, they just use 「あり得る」. This verb is very curious in that it can be read as either 「ありうる」 or 「ありえる」, however; all the other conjugations such as 「ありえない」、「ありえた」、and 「ありえなかった」 only have one possible reading using 「え」.

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