What meaning does the prefix やって give to the main verbs? Is it a constant one can do with some other verbs as well? For example やって来る やって見る やって退ける やって行く

  • What do you mean by やって being the prefix to the main verb. In something like やってみる clearly みる is an auxiliary verb to the main verb やる, no?
    – Leebo
    Jul 23 '19 at 3:44
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    Okay, I guess maybe the question could be reworded to "what does やる mean in these various expressions that use it" or something like that, since やる does have a lot of definitions. The framing of the question initially confused me. The auxiliaries that attach to やる all basically have their typical meanings as auxiliaries.
    – Leebo
    Jul 23 '19 at 3:54
  • Sorry for the confusion and I appreciate your suggestion in rewording the question.
    – Healer
    Jul 25 '19 at 2:53

やって is basically just the te-form of the verb やる, which has various meanings. As @Leebo points out, most expressions in the form やって + another verb can be understood using the ordinary grammar of subsidiary verbs such as (て)みる or (て)くる.

...and so on and on. In the examples above, やって means just "to do".

However, there are a few verbs that have (additional) fixed meanings:

  • やってくる: to come along; to come all the way

    Santa Claus is coming to town.

  • やってのける: to succeed in (a difficult thing)
  • やっていく: to make a living; to make ends meet

These やって are still loosely related to the original meaning of やる; for example, I think やって in やってくる originally means "to bring/send". But it's probably best to memorize these as special cases. Aside from them, you can use the standard grammar to make sense of the phrase.

  • At first glance, I would have put やってのける in the first category, of just a て form and an auxiliary. But I don't know if there's some nuance between the idea of やって + のける and やってのける that I'm just unaware of.
    – Leebo
    Jul 23 '19 at 6:06
  • @Leebo Ah, you're right, we can say 言ってのける or 笑ってのける, so it can be categorized as a subsidiary verb (although there is some restriction)! I'll edit the answer later.
    – naruto
    Jul 23 '19 at 7:32
  • Thanks a lot! It looks like やって simply means "to do" as the te-form of the verb やる except that of やってくる and やっていく. While やっていく means "to make a living; to make ends meet", it could also mean "to do and then go" in view of the example of 宿題をやっていく. Could やってくる mean "to do and then come" too? I'm not sure how it gets to mean "to come along or to come all the way". I would just take it as an idiom.
    – Healer
    Jul 25 '19 at 9:08

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