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In Japan, if a Japanese person sees a new verb ending in ru, what would they do to try and infer if it's a ichidan or godan verb before just looking it up or asking someone?

  • If you see a new verb in English, how do you know if it has an irregular past participle? For that matter, I'm suspicious that Japanese people even think in terms of "ichidan" and "godan" verbs. That probably is just a construct for people learning Japanese as a second language. – Just Someone Feb 5 '17 at 18:32
  • It's an artifact, but an artifact of the Japanese writing system and not something created for non-native speakers. – snailboat Feb 6 '17 at 0:16
  • Regardless of whether or not native speakers know the terminology, that doesn't change the fact that ichidan and godan verbs ending in ru aren't treated the same. – Tirous Feb 6 '17 at 0:21
  • This thought experiment is interesting but not practical because it's more likely to get familiar with new verbs through other conjugations than the dictionary form. Anyway, it's godan. – user4092 Feb 6 '17 at 10:00
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When native Japanese speakers encounter or coin new verbs, such verbs are assumed to be godan verbs, despite the fact that many ordinary verbs that end with -i-ru/-e-ru are ichidan-verbs. Here I'm talking about native Japanese adults who can conjugate common verbs like 切る/着る/帰る/変える without thinking. And native speakers don't usually think about verb types; verb types are something we learn at middle school, but most people forget about that soon after they graduate.

For example, when you present an imaginary verb あべる to a native speaker and tell them to conjugate it in various ways, the response would be 「あべらない」「あべります」「あべって」「あべれ」 rather than 「あべない」「あべます」「あべて」「あべろ」. Likewise, the conjugation of an imaginary verb れぴる would be 「れぴらない」「れぴります」「れぴれ」「れぴろう」 rather than 「れぴない」「れぴます」「れぴろ」「れぴよう」.

This I think is because all verbs that were recently coined from loanwords are godan-verbs. コピる is an example of godan verbs that may look like ichidan at first (We say コピれ but not コピろ).

  • ありがとうございます ! :D – Tirous Feb 6 '17 at 22:05
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There's a trend where, if the mora before the る doesn't end in /i/ or /e/, then it's a godan verb. (Examples below.) Beyond that, it's really just a matter of exposure -- most of the exception/irregular verbs are also the high-frequency verbs, so native speakers would already have those down solid. The remaining ones would tend to follow the pattern.

Some godan verbs (dictionary form not ending in -iru or -eru):

-aru: [割]{わ}る → [割]{わ}ります  [狩]{か}る → [狩]{か}ります

-uru: [釣]{つ}る → [釣]{つ}ります  [降]{ふ}る → [降]{ふ}ります

-oru: [取]{と}る → [取]{と}ります  [凍]{こお}る → [凍]{こお}ります

Verbs ending with -iru or -eru are more of a mixed bag:

[居]{い}る → [居]{い}ます

[要]{い}る → [要]{い}ります

[見]{み}る → [見]{み}ます

[切]{き}る → [切]{き}ります

[蹴]{け}る → [蹴]{け}ります

[得]{え}る → [得]{え}ます

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I'm sure that when you are growing up and hearing your native language all around you all the time you never question the form of a verb because you learn the verb in context, not logically.

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Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that if it ends in -ru, it's a ichidan verb. It's not always the case (think of the irregular verbs like -suru, for an easy example) but it usually works.

For your reference: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/動詞

Take a look at the table showing types of verbs in 3 日本語の動詞. The description says 「原形は -ru で終わる」 for ichidan verbs.

So in the example you gave, since it ended with -ru, the automatic reflex would be to assume that it's an ichidan verb.

  • An explanation for the downvote would be appreciated. – Halfway Dillitante May 29 '18 at 14:57

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