3

As far as I understand, among the constructions

  1. (て-form verb),
  2. (て-form verb)いる,
  3. (finite verb)こと,
  4. (finite verb)の,
  5. (verb phrase)と,
  6. (finite verb)もの

the form (2) unambiguously functions as a finite verb (denotes a progressive, a perfective or an intention, can accept arguments like a normal verb), (3) and (4) unambiguously function as nouns (verbal nouns with subtly different meanings, can accept arguments as a normal verb).

My question is about the remaining ones: (1), (5), and (6). Basically, what are they, from a language-neutral perspective? From the outside, do they look like adjectives (participle? although seemingly any finite Japanese verb can qualify a noun as is), adverbs (transgressive), nouns (verbal noun), special non-finite verb forms of some sort (if so, what do they express?). Or should I just give up and say they only make sense as a part of set constructions?

The て form (1) seems to accept arguments like a normal verb and participates in a dizzying variety of constructions [~ても concessive, ~て下さる polite, ~ている progressive, chaining as in VPてVPてVP(finite), ...]. In some of them it can be replaced by a noun (concessive) or a noun with an を marker (polite), in some it can’t (progressive), in some it’s so special I’ve half a mind to mentally classify it as a different て altogether (chaining).

The と construction (5) I’ve seen used as a topic (~とは ...) or as a kind-of-object but without the accusative marker を (~と言う, for example, both as an action and qualifying something). It seems like the qualifying ~と言う (“so-called” as in ~と言うもの) can also be formed from a noun or just about anything, but I’m not sure about any other uses.

The もの construction (6) I’ve seen only as a topic (~ものは ...), sort of noun-like, but not really, as it doesn’t seem to be possible to use it as a noun anywhere else. The usage in ~と言うもの seems to suggest that it’s just a noun with a passive meaning: “something that is called ...”, but that’s only how I translate it for myself.

(As to mentioning the gerund in the title, seems like almost any one of these forms is called a gerund in one place or another—possibly because the -ing form in English can look as an adjective, an adverb or a noun from the outside.)

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.