For example, consider the two following options:

  • 日本語の本が読めたい。
  • 日本語の本が読むことができるになりたい。

Is the first construction valid? If so, how is it different from the second (in terms of meaning, formality, etc.)?


Both sentences are ungrammatical. The correct forms are:

  • 日本語の本が読めるようになりたい。
  • 日本語の本読むことができるようになりたい。

You cannot directly combine the the potential-form and the tai-form. You cannot combine the dictionary-form and になる, either. The workaround for both cases is ようになる. The usage is explained in many other pages including this.

Also note that 本読むことができる is incorrect because 本が読むこと itself has no potential form. You have to say 本を読むことができる instead.

The difference between the two is fairly small, but please read: ことができる versus V~える form

  • I've come across the ことができる versus V~える link several times before and I always leave feeling unsatisfied. The top rated answer makes quite a distinction between the uses, but you and others seem to downplay that difference. I'd be interested to know to what extent you agree with the top rated answer? – user3856370 Jan 7 '20 at 15:35
  • 1
    @user3856370 Um...I admit I linked to that question without reading seriously, but I think ことができる can refer to allowance/permission, too. For example it's not wrong to say ここでBBQをすることができますか instead of ここでBBQをしてもいいですか. At least in the OP's case, the difference is subtle. – naruto Jan 8 '20 at 1:33

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