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If 食べれる means "can eat", 食べれます means the same but polite, and 食べれません means "can not eat" but in its polite form, how do I say "can not eat" in the nonpolite form?

Another little question: how can I say "can be". For example, "I can be that person".

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    The "normal" polite can form is 食べられます . 食べれます is a ら抜き variant form. – virmaior Nov 3 '18 at 14:11
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First of all, it should be 食べられる rather than 食べれる, although the latter form is used. See this link.

Once you have conjugated a verb into the potential form it behaves just like any other iru-eru/group 1 (whatever you want to call it) verb.

As you probably already know, to make a group 1 verb negative you just remove る and replace it with ない. So we get 食べられない.

Furthermore, ない just behaves like an i-adjective so you can get the past tense exactly as you would expect: 食べられなかった. Conjugation in Japanese is really logical :-)

I'm not a native speaker, but I can't think of any way to turn 'to be' into potential form. My guess is that this isn't a natural thing to do. If had to say "I can be that person" I think would use なる (become) and say: あの人になれます。

  • @Chocolate Thanks for correcting my stupid mistake. – user3856370 Nov 3 '18 at 14:26
  • I can think of other languages where “I can be that person” is either very odd-sounding or downright grammatically impossible as well; it does seem to be rather an unusual thing to need to express. If you really want to stress the possibility of your state of being as being equivalent to that person, I suppose you could perhaps say (私は)あの人であることができます, could you not? I suspect that too would sound rather odd to a native speaker, though. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 3 '18 at 17:34
  • I know of a case where "なれる" (potential form of "なる") is used "you can be a hero" - namely, in My Hero Academia, a mentor character says "ヒーローになれる". So, it does seem to be an understandable usage. However, I would advise double-checking whether it sounds normal or not, because anime often have unusual or overly-dramatic dialogue (and the character who said it IS quite flowery with his speech). – Ethan Kaminski Nov 3 '18 at 18:09
  • "なれる" is a common way of expressing being able to choose any particular type of job, in Japan. Pretty normal, not really "odd to hear". – ericfromabeno Nov 3 '18 at 19:11
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    On the topic of られる potential form, that's only the case for when your language needs to be strictly textbook. In regular speech, you'll almost never hear someone conjugate with られる. It's always れる. – Omegastick Nov 5 '18 at 8:44
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The verb for “to be”, when applied to people, is いる. Potential form of it is いられる, so in theory you could say something like [私は]あの人でいられる, though it would be a really awkward phrase and I doubt it would get your meaning across. It’s better to use なれる(can become), as mentioned by others. I think the only common usage of いられる I’ve seen is for wishes, e.g.

今年も健康でいられますように

[I wish that you] stay(=can be) in good health this year as well

元気でいられますように

[I hope that you] stay cheerful

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