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I have been watching some anime recently and I often hear people say にげよ (逃げよ in kanji maybe?) and it is usually translated as "(Let's) escape!".

I want to know why it is translated this way. According to my knowledge, 逃げ is the 連用形 of 逃げる, to escape. And よ is a sentence ending particle that adds little meaning to the sentence. IMO, "(Let's) escape!" should be something like 逃げろ. Does this mean that 連用形 can sometimes replace the imperative form? I have never heard anyone say 書き! or 食べ! to give commands.

Or did my ears not work properly and mistook the ろ as a よ?

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Wasn't it 逃げよ (with the last vowel elongated) that you actually heard?

Then that's what's called the volitional-form of a verb. You can create it by replacing the last る with よう for vowel-stem (aka ichidan or ru-) verbs, or by replacing the last u-vowel with the o-vowel equivalent and adding う for consonant-stem (aka godan or u-) verbs. Its primary meaning is "Let's ~" and "I'm going to ~".

The sentence-end particle よ (as in そうだよ, 楽しいよ) has nothing to do with the volitional-form. (It doesn't end with よ in the first place.)


In fact there is also 逃げよ (without the elongated vowel), which is the archaic imperative form of 逃げる (which was 逃ぐ in classical Japanese, strictly speaking). The meaning is "(You must) escape!" This is much more rarer and never heard in today's ordinary conversations. But you may occasionally hear 逃げよ from a stereotyped pompous noble person, a ninja, a samurai, or a 1000-year-old demon in various fictional works.


EDIT: @kroki's comment reminded me that 逃げよう can be sometimes shortened to 逃げよ in very casual conversations. Casual/colloquial ("let's") 逃げよ is pronounced as にげよ{LHH}, whereas the archaic/pompous/literary 逃げよ is pronounced as にげよ{LHL} (like にげろ{LHL}).

  • Though rare, imperative form shouldn't be neglected, or you won't be able to appreciate touching moments of life, your dog will leave you, and you'll end up reading books about loneliness. – kroki Feb 16 '17 at 20:01
  • @kroki 似げよ in the first two links is actually a variation of 逃げよう. Only the last one about loneliness is the archaic 逃げよ. – naruto Feb 17 '17 at 6:51
  • I'm not in the position to argue, but at least for the first picture I imagined a scene that the girl has already decided: she is going to run away. So she tells a taller person: "come with me!" - and that looked like imperative to me. Volitional would convey another story: the girl wants to escape, but lets the taller person to have a final say. Anyway, thanks for detailed explanation! – kroki Feb 17 '17 at 8:16
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    @kroki She's inviting the person to run away with her, not ordering that person to run away. – Aeon Akechi Feb 17 '17 at 12:31
  • @Nothingatall, yes, now I see it that way too, thanks. Perhaps it's worth noting that you may use 命令形 for requests as well as orders (一緒に逃げて下さい is in 命令形), so I can imagine 一緒に逃げろ (and by extension よ form) as a request as well (though perhaps not from a female, OTOH I know nothing about power dynamics of their relations, and hey, she could be that 1000-year-old demon, couldn't she? :)). – kroki Feb 17 '17 at 15:53
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In Japanese Grammar,We have a Volitional Pattern. 逃げます is a Group 2 Verb. So as a rule we conjugate as 逃げよう(add) よう means Let's Escape. Other Verb is 食べよう let's eat.

forms Group 1

買います - 買おう let's buy

Group 2

浴びよう let's take shower

Group 3

勉強しよう let's study

Try to Search Volitional Pattern

  • I think it's imperative 逃げよ rather than volitional 逃げよう. – kroki Feb 16 '17 at 12:01
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    What's the conjugation of Imperative using よ形 what I remember about Imperative is ろ – user19877 Feb 16 '17 at 12:03
  • Please see last line of this table. Both ろ and よ are used. – kroki Feb 16 '17 at 12:04
  • And also here. So I think OP heard it right: 逃げよ is "Escape!" while 逃げよう would be "Let's escape..." (without exclamation). – kroki Feb 16 '17 at 12:21

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