AFAIK compound verbs (複合動詞) are formed by prefixing 連用形 (ren'youkei, or stem form) of one verb to another "full" verb, e.g.:

  • 巡り合う=巡る(めぐり)+ 合う
  • 生み出す=生む(生み)+ 出す

And so on...

However, 引っ張る seems to not fit this pattern and feels like it was formed by combining 引く+張る, and not 引き+張る which would result in 引き張る.

Apparently there are compound verbs with 引き, e.g.:

  • 引き出す
  • 引き受ける
  • 引き返す
  • 引き止める

Even more interestingly, there is a verb that exists in both variations: 引き越す and 引っ越す, although I don't think I've ever seen the former outside of the dictionary.

So, is 引っ張る a compound verb? If not, is there a term for such verbs and are there others?


As you note, 引【ひ】っ越【こ】す pairs with the older 引【ひ】き越【こ】す form, which doesn't see much use in the modern language. Along the same lines, modern 引【ひ】っ張【ぱ】る is a shift in pronunciation of older 引【ひ】き張【は】る, which more clearly shows the regular compound-verb structure.

This kind of sound shift is a regular feature of the language. See also the answer linked at Why is ふとんがふとんだ a pun?, which shows and links to other similar examples of regular compound verbs ([VERB in the 連用形] + [VERB]) that have shifted to this kind of 促音【そくおん】 (geminate or doubled-consonant) phonology as a kind of contraction.

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