I was taught that there is a grammatical form which goes like this: [V-stem]に行く

For example: 遊びに行く, which means "Go. Reason: to 遊ぶ"

I was wondering does this grammatical form work for verbs whose stems are not stand-alone words by themselves?

Ok, in case this gets confusing..

I mean 遊び is the stem of 遊ぶ, and 遊び is a standalone word in the dictionary which means "play (n)".

選び is the stem of 選ぶ, but 選び is not a standalone word in the dictionary. 選び by itself means nothing.

砕き is the stem of 砕く, 掘り of 掘る, 食べ of 食べる, 威張り of 威張る, 植え of 植える. but 砕き、掘り、食べ、威張り、植え by themselves are not standalone words in the dictionary. By themselves, they mean nothing.

Does these work:

  1. 砕きにいく。 "Go. Reason: to 砕く"

  2. 掘りにいく。 "Go. Reason: to 掘る"

  3. 食べにいく。 "Go. Reason: to 食べる"

  4. 威張りにいく。 "Go. Reason: to 威張る"

  5. 植えにいく。 "Go. Reason: to 植える"

  • 食べにいく is rather common. I'm pretty sure was the example used in my introductory text.
    – jkerian
    Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 18:40

2 Answers 2


Yes, the form “[continuative form (-te stem) of a verb]に行く・来る” works even with a verb whose continuative form is not used as a noun in isolation. For example, 応援しに行く is perfectly fine even though the action of cheering is 応援, not 応援し.

  • 2
    Or to put it in technical terms, all verbs have a 連用形 form, even if that form is not a word on its own. Commented Aug 31, 2011 at 20:42

Yes you can use them even though they are not dictionary entries.

All verbs and い-adjectives in 連用形* inflection can be used as a noun.

Inflections for 五段 verbs:

未然形 (Imperfect): verb stem + あ sound

*連用形 (Continuative): verb stem + い sound

連体形 (Attributive): verb stem + う sound

已然形 (Perfect): verb stem + え sound

命令形 (Command): verb stem + え sound

Inflections for 一段 verbs:

未然形: verb stem

*連用形: verb stem

連体形: verb stem + る

已然形: verb stem + れ

命令形: verb stem

This noun produced from a verb in 連用形 is a noun for the act of the verb.

For example, in 1. "I walk to the park", "walk" here is a verb.

Compare this to 2. "I'm having a walk in the park". "walk" here is a noun, this is the type of noun formed by a verb in 連用形.

And to correct you slightly, using your example, 遊び(あそび) is not [Verb Stem], The verb stem would be 遊(あそ). Some dictionaries call あそび the [Verb-Masu] because that's how we would conjugate the verb to add the polite helper verb ます. Technically it would be called the 連用形.

  • As far as I know the name 已然形 is usually reserved for classical Japanese; the corresponding form in modern Japanese is called the 仮定形. As for what the verb stem is, well, that depends on what grammatical analysis you subscribe to. In 学校文法, the 語幹 of 遊ぶ is indeed あそ, but I think most linguists would say the stem is /asob/.
    – Zhen Lin
    Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 16:59
  • 2
    Related question: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/2513/… Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 3:58

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