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There is a pattern to express the way of doing things. First comes a verb in the 連用形 form, and after that comes the word 方{かた}. For example:

食べ + 方 → 食べ方 (the way of eating)

読み + 方 → 読み方 (the way of reading)

Given that the 連用形 of the verb する (to do) is し, it seems reasonable to think of しかた as another example of the same rule:

し + 方 → し方 (the way [of doing] )

However, there's a problem: the kanji spelling for the word しかた is 仕方, but the right kanji for the verb する is 為, and not 仕 (the word is spelled in hiragana virtually always).

For this reason, I'm not so sure whether 仕方 is an actual instance of the aforementioned rule or not. Which is the case? Maybe there's an etymological relationship between the pattern and the word 仕方, but it eventually became a word in its own right?

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  • Interestingly, 仕る seems to exist as a word too and (one of its senses) has more or less the same meaning as する/為る, but apparently it's pronounced つかまつる. – Will May 15 at 4:40
  • @user3856370 regarding the edits, shouldn't a verb come with a subject in English? How is "it comes" incorrect? Thank you. – jarmanso7 May 15 at 16:55
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    If you wanted to add a subject here it would be "there" i.e. "First there comes a verb". I can assure you that "First, it comes a verb" sounds really weird, but I'm sorry I can't explain why. However, in this case no subject is needed. "First comes a verb" sounds perfectly natural. – user3856370 May 15 at 16:59
  • I notice you've undone my edit. I'm not going to argue about it but I suggest that you keep mine. – user3856370 May 15 at 17:02
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    See the [語誌](1) note for 「仕事」 in 精選版 日本国語大辞典 here. – goldbrick May 17 at 0:20
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仕方 is indeed し方. 仕 is an ateji. The word looks more like a noun in its own right with a Chinese character at the beginning than otherwise.

I don’t know how this particular character came to be used for し, but it is also used for the ます-stem of する in other words, such as:

  • [仕事]{しごと}
  • [仕様]{しよう} (しょうがない is a contraction of し様がない)
  • [仕合]{しあい} (more commonly written 試合)
  • [仕業]{しわざ}
  • [仕草]{しぐさ}
  • [仕組]{しく}み
  • [仕切]{しき}る

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