Japanese Verb Conjugation - Potential

The general pattern is u becomes eru.

Type Potential Examples Potential
Irregular verbs
する suru できる dekiru

(せられる serareru)
(せる seru)

勉強する benkyō suru

察する sassuru (guess)
愛する aisuru (love)

勉強できる benkyō dekiru

察せられる sasserareru
愛せる aiseru

来る kuru 来られる korareru

来れる koreru

ある aru あり得る ariuru, arieru
Regular consonant stem (v5) verbs
-う -u -える -eru 使う tsukau (use) 使える tsukaeru
-く -ku -ける -keru 焼く yaku (grill) 焼ける yakeru
-ぐ -gu -げる -geru 泳ぐ oyogu (swim) 泳げる oyogeru
-す -su -せる -seru 示す shimesu (show) 示せる shimeseru
-つ -tsu -てる -teru 待つ matsu (wait) 待てる materu
-ぬ -nu -ねる -neru 死ぬ shinu (die) 死ねる shineru
-ぶ -bu -べる -beru 呼ぶ yobu (call) 呼べる yoberu
-む -mu -める -meru 読む yomu (read) 読める yomeru
-る -ru -れる -reru 走る hashiru (run) 走れる hashireru
Regular vowel stem (v1) verbs
-る -られる 見る miru

食べる taberu

見られる mirareru

食べられる taberareru

-る -れる (colloquial form, so-called "ra-nuki kotoba") 見る miru

食べる taberu

見れる

食べれる

Usage

The potential is used to express that one has the ability to do something. Direct objects are marked with the particle が ga instead of を o. For example 日本語が読める nihongo ga yomeru: "I can read Japanese".

It is also used to request some action from someone, in the exact sense of the English "Can you ... ?" For example 「コーヒー買える?」 koohii kaeru?: "Can (you) buy (some) coffee?" However, sometimes in English "Will you...?" and "Can you ... ?" is used interchangeably to make requests. Though it is possible in Japanese, 「コーヒー買う?」 koohii kau?, it is very casual and might also mean simply "Are you buying/Will you buy coffee?" in very dry factual sense.

Unlike in English, the potential is not often used to express permission (as in the sentence "Can I eat this apple?") as it is almost always understood to mean "Do I have the ability to eat this apple?": 「このりんごが食べられる?」 kono ringo ga taberareru?. And since the -reru form is more often used in speech than the more correct passive potential form -rareru, and subjects are often implied in Japanese, it may implicitly be asking (in this case) if the apple is edible. So, to seek permission, a more polite form is used, such as the -てもいい -te mo ii or more casual -ていい "-te ii"" usage of the -て -te form, resulting in something literally more like "Is eating this apple OK?" 「このりんごを食べてもいいですか?」 Kono ringo o tabete mo ii desu ka? or 「このりんごを食べていい?」 Kono ringo o tabete ii?.

The potential -ru ending conjugates as a vowel stem verb.

There is no potential equivalent for です; other constructions for expressing may-be situations are used:

  • Using かもしれない expression. For verbs: 「明日降るかもしれない」 ashita furu kamo shirenai "It may rain tomorrow.", i-adj: 「旅行は高いかもしれない」 ryokou wa takai kamo shirenai "The journey is perhaps expensive.", na-adj: 「大切かもしれない」 taisetsu kamo shirenai "(This thing is) probably important."
  • Using adverbs. 「恐らく降る」 osoraku furu "It probably will rain", 「たぶん降る」 tabun furu "Perhaps it will rain"

Read more about this topic:  Japanese Verb Conjugation

Other articles related to "potential, potentials":

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... the separation between plates being in the order of 1 mm and the applied potential being in the order of 1 kV ... bulletproof vests using an ER fluid because the ability to soak the fluid into cloth creates the potential for a very light vest that can change from a ... Other potential uses are in accurate abrasive polishing and as haptic controllers and tactile displays ...
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Saltatory Conduction - Mechanism
... At each successive node, the membrane potential of the axon is thereby brought to the threshold potential to initiate an action potential ... Ions need only to cross the axon membrane to propagate the action potential at the nodes, but not anywhere under the myelin along the axon ... Thus in myelinated axons, action potentials do not propagate continuously as waves, but instead recur at successive nodes, and in effect "hop" along the axon, by which process they travel faster than they ...
Potential Gradient
... In physics, chemistry and biology, a potential gradient is the local rate of change of the potential with respect to displacement, i.e ... engineering it refers specifically to electric potential gradient, which is equal to the electric field ...
Particle In A Spherically Symmetric Potential
... In quantum mechanics, the dynamics of a particle in a spherically symmetric potential has a Hamiltonian of the following form where denotes the mass of the particle in the potential ... mechanical formulation, it amounts to solving the Schrödinger equation with the potential V(r) which depend only on r, the modulus of r ...

Famous quotes containing the word potential:

    Laughing at someone else is an excellent way of learning how to laugh at oneself; and questioning what seem to be the absurd beliefs of another group is a good way of recognizing the potential absurdity of many of one’s own cherished beliefs.
    Gore Vidal (b. 1925)

    The planet on which we live is poorly organized, many areas are overpopulated, others are reserved for a few, technology’s potential is only in part realized, and most people are starving.
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    Views of women, on one side, as inwardly directed toward home and family and notions of men, on the other, as outwardly striving toward fame and fortune have resounded throughout literature and in the texts of history, biology, and psychology until they seem uncontestable. Such dichotomous views defy the complexities of individuals and stifle the potential for people to reveal different dimensions of themselves in various settings.
    Sara Lawrence Lightfoot (20th century)