2

白き布 もて盤上を 磨きたり 人は心に 鏡をもてり。

Is もてり 持てる? If so, in that case why does a potential verb have the が particle?

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This is not the potential form of 持つ, but the 已然形 of 持つ plus the 終止形 of the 助動詞 り. In this case, the combination corresponds to modern Japanese 持っている.

  • Addendum: In other words it's a Classical Japanese grammar. See the dictionary entry of . – broccoli forest Jun 26 at 4:57
  • Sorry; I assumed the fact that this was CJ was understood from the OP's use of the "Old Japanese" tag. – Nanigashi Jun 26 at 14:58
  • I see. Probably you're right. I was kind of confused because OP is asking about potential verb which doesn't exist in the Classical grammar. – broccoli forest Jun 28 at 0:25
  • Is that classical Japanese form really 磨たり? Or did OP make a typo of 磨たり? – istrasci Jun 28 at 6:23
  • @istrasci It's indeed 磨きたり. But talking of that, the reduced form of 連用形 seems to have appeared in colloquialism as early as the 9th century. – broccoli forest Jun 28 at 11:13

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