I wonder how the (common) Noun+する verbs, e.g. 勉強する, are perceived by native speakers, especially children before the start of the formal education.

  1. In the manner similar to English "to do homework" where there are clearly two separate parts - a noun and a verb "to do" ("do" is inflected and additional words can be inserted before "homework", e.g. "I've done my homework")


  1. as just a single unit which inflects similarly to the verb する, which will be along the lines of "normalize" in English where it's clear that it is derive from "normal", since this derivation scheme is productive in English, but is clearly an inseparable semantic and syntactic unit. Another example would be future tense inflection in French, which is historically derived from "avoir" following verb infinitive but have fused completely with the infinitive and is now perceived as part of word.

I know that を can be inserted between the noun and the する part, but I am not sure how common this is and how this fact affects speakers' perception.

I've looked for similar questions but haven't found any

Here is some reference material about restrictions on suru-verbs formations https://www.imabi.net/suruverbs.htm. It says that some nouns require を, some forbid it and some are more lenient

When the particle を is required, する is interpreted literally. This する is sometimes called a 重動詞 (heavy verb) in contrast to when it is just a grammatical item. Notice that the words that only take をする are specific activities: 強盗, テニス, 野球. Are these nouns then made verbs? No, they're obligatorily marked by を and are thus functioning as direct objects.

So, I would guess I am talking about the "non-heavy" verbs

  • I think grammar-wise it is explained in japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/4006/… . If the question is not about grammar, what is it about exactly? ("Perception" can be anything.) Jun 22, 2023 at 3:22
  • Thanks for the reference. As for perception, as long as we agree that there is such a thing as a word in the language (as usual there are edge cases), we can ask a native speaker whether it's a word or not or ask them to split a sentence into words. Or we can do some indirect tests such as - can a word be inserted between the two words, the stress or intonation patterns and so on and so on. Jun 27, 2023 at 13:47
  • As I see it at the moment, the answer to my question is no - they haven't yet fused into a single word, as evidenced by "suru" becoming "dekiru" in potential (although this alone is not a good reason, it can be perceived as just a peculiar declension). OTOH, maybe they are on their way - for example there are restrictions on using NO before them, they don't use use up the WO slot of the verb, hence 日本語を勉強する vs 日本語の勉強をする Jun 27, 2023 at 13:51
  • If I understand it correctly, I guess another way to frame your question might be "What linguistic test can measure how inseparable/separable 勉強 and する in 勉強する (thus test whether it's a single word or two words)?" Jun 30, 2023 at 3:49


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