I've come across this form many times in my Japanese Bible. The meaning is quite obvious based on context, and seems to be one of the following: ~べきです, ~ほうがいい, ~なさい, or ~ように (let it be ~).

Here are a few verses with this form:

  • 神を[畏]{おそ}れる人は皆、聞くがよい... ― 詩編 66編16節 / Come and hear, all who fear God... - Psalm 66:16
  • イエスは、「友よ、しようとしていることをするがよい」と言われた。すると人々は進み寄り、イエスに手をかけて捕らえた。 ― マタイによる福音書 26章50節 / And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. - Matthew 26:50
  • イエスは、「さあ、あなたがただけで人里離れた所へ行って、しばらく休むがよい」と言われた... - マルコによる福音書 6章31節 / And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.” - Mark 6:31
  • しかし、たとえわたしたち自身であれ、天使であれ、わたしたちがあなたがたに告げ知らせたものに反する福音を告げ知らせようとするならば、呪われるがよい。 - ガラテヤの信徒への手紙1章8節 / But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be cursed! - Galatians 1:8

How is this form "allowed" to exist without a こと/の following the verb? Is this only a literary written form or something? Because I've never seen this form anywhere except my Bible.

  • 1
    This is the same grammatical structure as the one asked in “What is the nuance when は directly follows a verb in plain form?” by Hyperworm. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 18:40
  • @TsuyoshiIto: Ahhh. Thanks, I don't think I'd ever seen that post before. Should I vote to close it, or just delete?
    – istrasci
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 20:04
  • possible duplicate of What is the nuance when は directly follows a verb in plain form?
    – istrasci
    Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 20:05
  • 3
    Honestly, I do not believe that this is a duplicate, because I think that the meaning of (say) 聞くがよい is a little different from that of 聞くのがよい. The other question hopefully answers the grammatical part of this question, but I think that some questions about meaning remain. Commented Sep 6, 2012 at 21:34
  • 1
    It's a bit やや威厳のある言い方, the meaning is the same as しろ.
    – Yang Muye
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


That structure came from classical Japanese (文語), which had been used in formal writing until just after WWII. Technically those are not 辞書形 (終止形), but 連体形. In classical Japanese, the 連体形 of a verb can work as a noun, like 連体形 + の/こと in modern Japanese (口語).

  • 1
    This structure is still quite common today. Other than 聞くが良い given above, 知るが良い is often heard. Note though that this is not limited to verbs. Regular 助動詞 and 形容動詞 work. For example, there is 静かなるは... and すべきは..., where 静かなる and べき are 連体形 of 静かだ and べし, respectively.
    – Dono
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 6:01
  • Yes, 静かなる is a very good example. It shows that it should not be a 終止形 but a 連体形.
    – Gradius
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 6:16
  • But what does it mean?
    – Flaw
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 15:08
  • @Flaw what does "it" mean?
    – Gradius
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 17:31
  • What is the significance of the usage of 連体形 as a noun without の/こと appended in modern usage? How is it different from 連体形+の/こと in terms of meaning/connotations?
    – Flaw
    Commented Sep 8, 2012 at 7:58

Constructions like 聞くがよい are a command or strong suggestion: "Listen"/"You should listen". On the other hand, if you add の or こと after the verb, I think it becomes a more broad/general statement: "It is good to listen". Maybe it could achieve approximately the same effect, but at the very least I think there's a big difference in the strength of the command/suggestion.

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