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I have heard from some native speakers that for some verbs, it is more common to use the phrase Vことが出来る rather than the potential form in everyday speech. This arose after a discussion on verbs of the form *っする (for example: 接する、決する...) when I was told that the potential form (接せられる、決せられる...) is rarely used in everyday speech compared to say 決することが出来る.

Some sources such as https://cotohajime.net/2021/12/03/potential-verbs-vs-kotogadekiru/ claim that Vことが出来る is more formal, which goes against the above claim that it may favoured in informal speech for certain verbs.

If I could hazard a guess, I would say that speakers may favour Vことが出来る when using a verb they are not very familiar with as it is cognitively easier than conjugating the verb to the potential form.

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  • FWIW I'd go with 愛せる, 略せる, 接せる, 決せる and so on in speech. Jan 14, 2023 at 3:41
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    I would say 愛せる and 略せる, but for 接する and 決する I would resort to 〜することができる because I don’t know what their potential forms are.
    – aguijonazo
    Jan 14, 2023 at 6:16
  • Yes I just looked into it and there seems to be a lot of irregularities in サ行変格活用 that I wasn't aware of. I understand why one would resort to the paraphrase 〜することができる in this case
    – kiyopi
    Jan 15, 2023 at 11:54

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Personally I don't feel I do that when using a verb I'm not familiar. In some situations ことが出来る can be used as a light "euphemism". For example:

引き止めることができなくて、遭難させてしまった
引き止められなくて、遭難させてしまった

Both mean the same thing, but the former form adds an added degree of remorse. It also signals that the speaker tried hard. I guess it adds a sort of emphasis as it's more elaborate than the shorter form.

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