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What's the difference in saying:

魚を食べ
魚を食べる

Both mean I will eat the fish but I really have never heard the first manner of speaking being verbalized. Only ever seen them in social media posts, etc.

4

Please review your textbook. 食べ is the 連用形 ("continuative form", aka masu-stem) of 食べる. As the name suggests, it's one of the forms of a verb that appear before other words. It cannot end a sentence on its own like the imperative form or the dictionary form can. If you said 魚を食べ, it would sound like you suddenly stopped speaking in the middle of a sentence.

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I'm just adding on a bit to what naruto said;

魚を食べ is the same as 魚を食べて. Which means you need something else to end the sentence, i.e. 魚を食べ、水を飲みました <-> 魚を食べて、水を飲みました The difference is slight, but the stem form (食べ) is used in writing for a more narrative tone, like in books or news reports (outside of dialog), while the te-form is more conversational. But both the stem form and the te-form are often used in the same text. From what I've seen the te-form is still more common, even in narration.

One thing that the te-form can do, but the stem form can't, is to describe in what manner a verb is done.

歩いて帰った walkingly, I went home = I walked home

歩き帰った I walked and went home; which doesn't really make sense here.

That is at least how I have understood it.

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魚を食べ = Eating fish

魚を食べる = Am/Is eating fish

猫は<゜)))彡を食べ、寝る = The cat is eating a kaomoji fish then sleeping.

Just like English you can skip certain clauses and it's implied by the rest of the paragraph or "[yo]u can [use] abbrev[iations] and still get [the] point across" thanks to the 160-char Character Standard.

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