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Thread: Verb endings

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    Default Verb endings

    I've been teaching myself Japanese over the past six years or so, on and off, extremely sporadically; I've never taken a single class, and, until I discovered Jim Breen's online dictionary, my only tools were a simple dictionary, a basic grammar, and a fairly comprehensive kanji dictionary. Fortunately I'm good with languages, and I've had fairly good exposure, being a mild anime nerd. That isn't the point, though.

    What all that amounts to is that I've never had a comprehensive explanation of all the different verb endings. The ones I do know I understand quite well, but some of the subtler ones escape me. A good example is 見られる. I have no idea what effect the -areru ending gives a verb, but it seems to be a subtle enough one that I've never been able to pick it up from context. Similarly, I'm not entirely sure what the function of してる is; it seems alternatively to fill similar roles as する and して, but other than that I can't pin down whatever kind of nuance it's supposed to introduce.

    While I'm very comfortable with most of the endings, feel free to explain anything that's comparably rare, subtle, or complicated. I'm sure there are plenty of others who have at least one verb ending they're unsure about, after all.

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    Go go gadget comprehensive-list-of-everything-I've-learned!

    ~います・~ます: Formal standard present tense verb.
    ~いました・~ます: Formal standard past tense verb.
    ~ている・てる: Progressive ("-ing") form standard verb (must be conjugated to be used)
    ~に行く: Purpose form, used to mean "I am going somewhere to do something"
    ~る・む・ぶ・す・etc: Plain standard present form.
    ~た: Plain standard past form.
    ~てください: Formal polite request form.
    ~て: Formal-ish polite-ish order form.
    ~たい(です): "Want to" form. Add です to make polite.
    ~たら[phrase]: Potential form 1 ("If...then...").
    ~えば・ければ[phrase]: Potential form 2. Not 100% sure of the difference between 1 and 2.
    ~える・られる: Ability form ("can do")
    ~ながら[phrase]: "While" form
    ~て[phrase]: "And then" form (alternative to using そして)
    ~たり[phrase]する: List of things with implied "etc." at the end of the list
    ~いましょう・ましょう: Polite first-person plural form
    ~おう・よう: Plain first-person plural form
    ~[plain form]つもり(です): Plan form ("I plan to..."). Add です to make polite.
    ~いません・ません: Polite negative form
    ~ない: Plain negative form
    ~いませんでした・ませんでした: Polite past negative form
    ~なかった: Plain past negative form
    ~こと: Noun ("-ing") form

    I've probably forgotten some, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head. Note that there are different rules for forming the different forms, but this is what you can listen/look for, although it's more complicated to use these forms yourself.
    Last edited by Ertai87; 11-18-2007 at 06:56 PM.
    日本語をならっている。 まちがえれば、おねがい知らせてください~!

    Quote Originally Posted by Paraphrased from LavaBug
    I remember that day 'cause it's Sailor Mercury's birthday...or is it my mom's?

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    Thanks; now that you mention it, I think I remember reading that the -areru form indicated ability to do something somewhere some time ago, but forgot about it.

    I have a couple of questions about that list, though: first off, I'm fairly sure that the -ou and -imashou forms are properly the probable mood, indicating an event that the speaker is fairly certain will happen, and mutated/evolved into a command/request form, that's between -te and -e in terms of how commanding it is, which makes sense: there's an indication of confidence of what will occur in a command, after all; similarly, it functions as the first person command, which in English is almost always rendered as "let's do X." Actually I'm not entirely sure what you meant by calling them plural forms; plurals for what?

    The second issue is the -te form: I believe that -te is properly the normal progressive form, though due to the difference of understanding in the concept of progressive between Japanese and English, it's far from an exact match. I'm not entirely sure why, though I could probably find a logical reason if I thought about it, but it became the form that most frequently gets combined with other modifiers (such as 下さい); I'm fairly certain that it's only a "command" (more of a request, typically) form due to dropping the 下さい.

    Since you listed some combining verbs, then there's one important one that should also be mentioned: 〜上げる (or 〜あげる, since it's frequently written in kana). In my experience, it almost always follows the -te form, and seems to indicate immediate intent to do X; for instance, 座ってあげる, if I understand it correctly, should translate to (more or less) "I'm going to sit down [now]." Still, this is one I'm not absolutely certain about, so I may be off here; confirmation/correction would be appreciated.

    I'm not sure if you already know this one, but a common ending that I had trouble with for a while is -っちゃう (-っちゃった, -っちゃって, etc.); at least, it's fairly common in the manga I peruse. As I understand it, it's a contraction of でしまう, and performs the same function--essentially indicating that X is being done entirely or completely.

    Again, I'm no expert, so I'm liable to be incorrect on any of these; this is just what I've read or picked up from context.
    Last edited by Vagrere; 11-18-2007 at 05:22 PM.

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    Yeah, by "first-person plural" I meant "Let's do"...I generally think about it as first-person plural even though it's really not

    ~て form is a lot of things. I don't think it has its own purpose. By itself, it's polite demand, I also think it's mostly due to the omission of ください (my understanding is that you're not supposed to use 下さい in that way; you're supposed to leave it in hiragana), but without ください it's generally more forceful. For example, if you're mad at someone but still want to be respectful, you wouldn't use ください because that implies they have another option than to do what you're asking them to do. In my presentation for my Japanese 2 class, I asked my teacher how to translate when a teacher takes a student and (quite literally, as it turned out) drags him by the earlobe out of the room, and she said you use て without ください (although she might have been telling me this because the real answer we haven't learned yet and she didn't want to confuse the rest of the class when we presented the skit, so I could be wrong).

    I asked my teacher last week about 上げる vs あげる and she said it's always written in kana when used as the verb "to give" (the same 上げる is also used as "to raise", in which case it's kanji). I mentioned ~てください because it carries a particular meaning, but I've found that most verbs can be used in that way (most notably する, 来る, 見る, あげる, くれる, もらう, and 行く). In the case of ~てあげる, it's used as the inverse of ~てください mostly. ~てください is "please do something for me", while ~てあげる is "I'll do something for you" (although it's generally not used in requests, to my understanding, as in "please let me do that for you", the same way that ~てください is). For example, one of the questions in my homework for last week (we actually just covered that topic last week) was 私はおとうとのしゅくだいを見てあげた, which means "I looked over my little brother's homework" (we're supposed to use either 私 or nothing on our homework, although I use 僕 when I speak). Similarly, ~てくれる is used as "Somebody did something for me", and ~てもらう is used as "somebody did something for somebody else".
    Last edited by Ertai87; 11-18-2007 at 06:51 PM.
    日本語をならっている。 まちがえれば、おねがい知らせてください~!

    Quote Originally Posted by Paraphrased from LavaBug
    I remember that day 'cause it's Sailor Mercury's birthday...or is it my mom's?

  5. #5
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    Ah, the 〜あげる thing makes sense that way; I hadn't thought of it in that light before, but it throws some things into relief that were quite fuzzy before. And of course, ageru has many different possible meanings: try looking it up on this online dictionary. That pissed me off so much back before I had any concept of what 〜てあげる was doing at all

    In terms of writing anything mentioned as kana or kanji, I don't think there's really much in the way of rules; I've seen 下さい used in exactly the same way as ください, and the same with "ageru." I'm not trying to contradict your teacher, but in my experience it seems that the only real reason to write those words one way or the other is up to the whim of the writer; personally, I tend to prefer using kanji where ever it isn't particularly strange to do so, but I started learning Chinese before I started learning Japanese, so I'm used to writing characters out, while kana still give me some trouble. Damned curvy little things.

    Looking in my little grammar book (Everett F. Bleiler's Basic Japanese Grammar), it says that the -te form is the participle: essentially, as you said, just the flexible form. I was remembering incorrectly, since my grammar introduces it first in order to talk about the progressive form, created by adding the verb いる, though adding いる doesn't necessarily give you a one-to-one correspondence with the English progressive: for instance, here's an example my grammar gives.

    洗濯物は乾いています (sentakumono wa kawaite imasu): The laundry is dry.

    To quote my grammar, "Japanese often uses a progressive where we would use a simple form. In instances where an action has lasted from the past into the present, for us the progressive meaning has just about disappeared, although Japanese still considers these ideas durational."

    It's also used in suspending forms of verbs, as well as various idiomatic constructions.

    As far as commands go, the way I understand it, you could sort of rank them in terms of mildness/bluntness in this order:

    お願い座りましてください
    お願い座ります
    どぞ座ってください
    座ってください
    座って
    座りなさい
    座ろう
    座れ

    Though, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea whether the -nasai construction or the -ou construction is more blunt in terms of use as a command; otherwise I'm fairly certain about that list.

    In terms of use, I think I have a pretty good idea for most of these. Starting from the bottom: the -e construction is going to be relatively rare, only for use with inferiors, and frequently used with inferiors one has a distaste for, or where one is specifically throwing ones weight about. As far as I've seen, the -ou construction tends to be used most by males, and typically only with people they're familiar with, or when the speaker is especially trying to get somebody to do something; I've seen it most frequently as やめろう. (An example that comes readily to mind is a scene in an anime when a guy is trying to get an antagonist to stop torturing said guy's friend.) In terms of familiarity, at least as far as guys go, it seems that if you're familiar enough with a person to use the pronouns 俺 and お前, telling them to do something using the -ou construction would probably be appropriate.

    なさい, of course, is the formal/polite command construction, used with authority but also respect. Again, my experience with it is primarily from manga, but I've seen it used by women (in positions of authority) more often than I've seen men use it; of course, that could have to do with the fact that male characters in manga who have the kind of authority なさい requires tend to be fairly informal. From how I've seen it used, I could see a teacher using it with a student, but the scene that pops into my head when I try to envision it is one where the teacher is already frustrated with the student, so take that assessment with a grain (or more) of salt.

    -て, in my experience, is used by women in a similar manner to how men use the -ou construction, although it's more flexible. I would assume that its use can range from an informal, but not authoritarian, command to inferiors, to an informal request form with peers you're familiar with, though a little less often in the latter manner by men.

    -てください seems in essence a request form, though I suppose it could be used as an especially polite command form to one's inferiors. Adding どぞ or お願い, in my experience, abandons all real authority, and I believe they're only used as requests--or even begging.
    Last edited by Vagrere; 11-18-2007 at 07:48 PM.

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    Actually now that I think about it, I have used both ください and 下さい, but whenever I use 上げる it always gets corrected with the Red Pen of Doom. I kind of presumed about 下さい but my teacher told me for a fact that 上げる is almost never used as "to give"; even in my textbook it says あげる (although albeit my teacher wrote my textbook XD). It makes sense too since 上 is defined as "up" or "above", and there's nothing "up" or "above" about giving somebody something (except for the english colloquial "pass it up")
    日本語をならっている。 まちがえれば、おねがい知らせてください~!

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    I suppose you could think about "up" and "down" in terms of station; you doing X for somebody you're being polite to would connote an understanding of doing something for somebody higher up the food chain, while asking them to do it for you would connote an understanding of handing favors down the food chain. And Japanese strives to create a sense of humility in polite speech, so it makes some sense.

    That aside, and getting back to the matter of あげる vs. 上げる: you'll see it written in kana in common Japanese dialogue much more often than you'll see the kanji for it; nevertheless, I have seen it, used as a verbal supplement, written using the kanji. I don't think the original meaning of a character has anything to do with whether its compounds/verb forms are written using only kana or with the kanji, but rather how its day-to-day use has evolved over the centuries: for instance, 私's original meaning is "private" or "personal," but you see it quite frequently written using the kanji when being used as the first-person pronoun.

    In conclusion: -てあげる is much more common than -て上げる, but the latter, in my experience, is acceptable and current among native Japanese speakers.

    Oh, and sorry about the constant speculations into the evolution of language; I've got the soul of a linguist.
    Last edited by Vagrere; 11-19-2007 at 10:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vagrere View Post
    Oh, and sorry about the constant speculations into the evolution of language; I've got the soul of a linguist.
    Really? Where do you keep it? XD
    日本語をならっている。 まちがえれば、おねがい知らせてください~!

    Quote Originally Posted by Paraphrased from LavaBug
    I remember that day 'cause it's Sailor Mercury's birthday...or is it my mom's?

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    This isn't so much a verb ending, per se, but it does more or less fit here, so may as well use this topic than make a new one.

    Anyway: My specific question concerns 良がる, and, more generally, the "verbifying" かる/がる ending. Once again, I'm having trouble picking up on the meaning from context, and my dictionaries have fallen short.

    Verbify. I think I'm going to keep that word.
    Last edited by Vagrere; 12-06-2007 at 09:23 PM.

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