I came across 愛せない in an example sentence in 新英和大辞典第5版 (under the entry 失格).

自分の子供を愛せないなんて母親失格だと思う。 I don't think anyone who doesn't love her own child deserves the name of a mother.

What kind of conjugation is 愛せない?


2 Answers 2


It's the negative potential form of 愛す, which is a godan verb meaning "to love (someone)".

  • 愛す (godan, transitive): "to love"
  • 愛せる (potential form of 愛す): "can love"
  • 愛せない (negative form of 愛せる): "cannot love"
  • (Compare) 愛さない (negative form of 愛す): "does not love"

If you can read 泳げない, 笑えない, 待てない and so on, this is the same conjugation.

Note that 愛す(る) is a tricky verb that conjugates sometimes like a godan verb and sometimes like a suru-verb. See this chart, this discussion and this discussion. When a potential meaning is involved, 愛できる doesn't make sense, and you need to say 愛せる (or 愛することができる).


愛する (love) + せる (can) + ない (not)

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