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Here are some examples of the grammatical structure I am referring to:

(verb A) to (verb B) = (masu stem of verb B) (sometimes に) (verb A conjugated normally)

I went to pick up = 取りに行った

I forgot to ask = 聞き忘れた

I started to eat = 食べ始めた

Right now, my (possibly incorrect) understanding is that you can use this structure with only the following verb As:

行く、来る、帰る、入る、出る、始まる、終わる(?), 忘れる(?)

Is this correct? And if so, what is the complete list?

this is the closest question I could find (which I don't think asks nor answers the question well): How to use に with "masu-stem (連用形 stem) + に + Verb" structure

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  • 1
    cf. NINJAL Compound Verb Lexicon – broken laptop Dec 3 '20 at 9:15
  • @broccolifacemask-cloth perfect! there are exactly 30 verbs you can do this with. Thank you!! – John Lee Dec 3 '20 at 11:14
  • @broccolifacemask-cloth this website is actually mindblowing. things i learned like "sugiru" and the potential form "eru" are nothing more than particular cases of this list of 30 verbs. Thank you so much!!! – John Lee Dec 3 '20 at 11:18
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I think you are actually talking about three different patterns. In particular, whether there is に between the two verbs is very important.

1. masu-stem + に + movement-verb

取り行く, 遊び来る, 寝戻る, and so on. The first verb can be almost anything. The second verb is a "movement verb" (行く, 来る, 参る, 戻る, 訪れる, etc). The first verb before に expresses the purpose of the movement. The に is very important. See: Is it true that only movement verbs can take [V-stem]に to express a purpose?

2. Syntactic compound verbs (masu-stem + verb)

やり直す, 見始める, 食べまくる, and so on. The first verb can be anything. The second verb is one of the 30-ish verbs listed in the "Syntactic and Lexical Compound Verbs" section of Compound Verb Lexicon. The second verb adds some meaning (e.g, "re-", "start") to the first verb.

3. Lexical compound verbs (masu-stem + verb)

There are literally thousands of compound verbs where the combinations of two verbs have fixed meanings. Some are straightforward enough (e.g. 飛び出す, 立ち上がる), but many have completely unpredictable meanings (e.g., 差し支える, 見込む). The linked lexicon is for listing this type of verbs.


The first two categories are easy, but lexical compound verbs are the toughest, and you'll have to remember each combination one by one.

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  • I see! This categorization really helps a lot! – John Lee Dec 4 '20 at 6:21

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