5

So for what I knew the "potential form" of the verbs are for example:

話せる for 話す, a godan verb.

見られる for 見る, an ichidan verb.

But then I find this form for the ichidan verbs that seems to mean the same as the potential form:

見れる、食べれる... etc.

So I'm puzzled, what is the difference between these two?

6

This phenomenon is called ら抜き ("omitting ら"). The two forms mean exactly the same.

Grammatically, ichidan verbs like 食べる have a potential form 食べられる instead of 食べれる, as you already know. But in recent times, people (especially young) have started saying 食べれる anyway despite its ungrammatical status.

Removing ら only works for potential, not passive. Without ら抜き, 食べられる could mean either "be able to eat" or "be eaten", whereas 食べれる can only mean "be able to eat". Thus, ら抜き can actually even help to disambiguate.

  • 2
    In reality, that form has been kept since old time, if not standard, but started to be criticized and called "ら抜き" since 1980's. – user4092 Jun 23 '16 at 15:38
  • The development of the short potential form for vowel-stem (ichidan) verbs can also be seen as parallel to the historical development of the short potential form for consonant-stem (godan) verbs. – snailcar Jun 23 '16 at 17:17

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