So, I know that た and ない are attributive such as: 知らない人 - a person that I don't know of (that they existed? still figuring out 分かる vs 知る)

but can you use any form of a verb to be attributive? 知れる人 - a person I could learn of? (potential form)

This would probably never be used, but grammatically is it correct?


2 Answers 2


Is every form of Japanese verbs attributive?

No. The imperative form and the hypothetical form never modify a noun. 知れ人 and 知れば人 are always wrong.

Most other "forms" (or strictly speaking, 助動詞) work attributively, but a few have a special attributive version. In particular, forms that end with -だ/-です (知りそうだ, 知るようだ) becomes -な when used attributively (知りそうな人, 知るような人).

In classical Japanese, many verbs, adjectives and 助動詞 looked different when used attributively (e.g., 日落つ = "The sun sets", 落つる日 = "the sun that sets").


It's more than attributive usage - it's actually a relative clause, because it can be a whole sentence (clause) before a verb.

今日買った本 book that (I) bought yesterday

本を買った人man that bought a book


So it can be past, present, negative, ている form, whatever. However, masu forms are not used in relative clauses.

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