The potential form of the godan verb [言]{い}う is [言]{い}える. I searched [言]{い}える in an online dictionary today, but it listed [言]{い}える, the potential form, as an ichidan verb.

It even gave a conjugation table for [言]{い}える - and lists [言]{い}えられる as the potential form of [言]{い}える.

I'm puzzled by this - if [言]{い}える is a potential form conjugation, why is it also listed as an ichidan verb? And would [言]{い}えられる be the potential potential form of [言]{い}う, and would it literally mean something like "to be able to be able to say"?

  • Related? japanese.stackexchange.com/q/33958/9831
    – chocolate
    Sep 3, 2020 at 4:58
  • 言えられる is the passive form of 言える. This is often used to express potential, but the passive has additional uses, including passivity, and honorifics. So 言えられる is not the potential of the potential -- it is the passive of the potential. Sep 3, 2020 at 6:44
  • ^ でも「言えられる」って使わないよね・・?
    – chocolate
    Sep 3, 2020 at 7:58
  • @Chocolate, 頻繁ではありませんが、一切使われていないとは言えません。(^^) google.com/…" Oct 23, 2020 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


I imagine that one reason for it having its own entry is because it is not merely the potential form of 言う, but it has an additional definition in monolingual dictionaries.

(Often in the form of 言える、言える or 言えてる) an expression used when agreeing with what someone said

Of course, this is not super far from the original meaning of the pure potential form of 言う, but it's in the dictionary since it's an expansion of that original meaning. It also lists the fairly limited range of forms that it often takes in this meaning.

I'm not sure exactly how Japanese-English online dictionaries typically get made, but presumably the categorization and conjugation tables are just automatically generated for any entry.

In the case of 言える, it's fair to say it's an ichidan verb in the sense that you would conjugate it as ichidan verb as needed, as seen in the example of 言えてる given. The て form wouldn't be 言えって or something like that, as though it were a godan verb.

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