I've just learnt that the expression 「もう待てないよ!」 has similar meaning in English as "I can't wait any longer", but how to interpret 「待てない」 from a grammar point?

Shouldn't the "te-form" of 「待つ」 be 「待って」like in 「待っててね!」?

And why 「待ってない」 doesn't mean something like "I'm not waiting (right now)", since it's the "nai-form" of 「待ってる」.

Here're some websites I've referred to:



2 Answers 2


待って is indeed the te-form, but 待て is not. It is the potential form. Remember that the final う sound becomes an え sound for the potential form of godan verbs? I guess this verb is a little more confusing than usual because つ becomes て (there not being a tse sound).

So the positive potential form of the verb is now 待てる. This conjugates like a normal ichidan verb so the negative form becomes 待てない as seen in your example.

  • Strictly speaking, 待て with nothing else attached would be the command form, with no relation to potential. But as you noted later, the 待てない comes from 待てる
    – Leebo
    Apr 8, 2021 at 22:30
  • @Leebo Good point. I guess that wasn't as clear as it should be. Do you think it's worth an edit? I'm thinking your comment is probably sufficient. Apr 8, 2021 at 22:32
  • 1
    Actually, the more I think about it, 待て could also be the potential form on its own, if it was functioning as the conjunction-type masu-stem. So yeah, it's not wrong, and anyone could just look at the comments if they had the same thought.
    – Leebo
    Apr 8, 2021 at 22:57

待っていない not waiting
待てない not be able to wait

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