連用形 → Noun

第222課: 連用形 → Noun

Verbs in the 連用形 can be very noun-like. Whether the result is actually a true-noun, a limited noun, or rarely like a noun shouldn’t distract us from noting how verbs in this form can clearly deviate from a truly verbal meaning.

First, let’s assume that a lot of verbs can at least be noun-like in some contexts. We can see at least five different types of resultant noun phrases.

  1.  Those that are so completely independent from the verb that they are separate words in the lexicon (vocabulary of the language).
  2. Those that are independent in the sense that they can stand alone as a noun in a sentence without the aid of context or additional words.
  3. Those that may stand alone as a noun but need contextual support through phrasing to make sense.
  4. Those that need to be in a compound to function properly as a noun phrase.
  5. Those that are found in constructions like 連用形+に+Motion verb in which the noun-like phrase is too verbal to be considered a true noun phrase.

Type 1

Our example verb for this category is 光 (light). Although its meaning of radiance in 目の光 gets closer to its verb roots, if we were to say 〇が光り〇, we would treat 光り as a verb phrase in the 連用形. This difference between hikari and hikar-i suggests that the first comes from the second, but it has lost its literal connection to the verb 光る. The second clearly has not and is merely a form of the latter. In spelling, we distinguish the two for this verb, but that won’t always be a guarantee.

If the verb in which the noun comes from has disappeared, then it becomes even clearer how independent the noun is from its verbal root. Some examples including the following.

きり (mist): Comes from the 連用形 of the old verb 霧る meaning “to mist”

相撲すもう (sumo wrestling): Comes from the 連用形 of the old verb 争(すま)ふ meaning to fight.

歌舞伎かぶき (Kabuki theatre): Comes from the 連用形 of the old verb かぶく meaning “to tilt (one’s head)”.

Another interesting example is the verb 歌う. We find that there are two nouns derived from it: 歌 and 謡い. The 漢字 have the same reading here, but the words うた and うたい have different meanings. The first can mean song or even poem (though when meant to mean poem it is often spelled as 詩). You may even see the character 唄 to refer to a song akin to a lullaby. The latter, 謡い, refers specifically to Noh song. We see that the latter clearly comes from the 連用形. At first glance, it seems that 歌 is from the root of the verb. In reality, it is probably from the contraction of うたい.  

Type 2

This is a less drastic form of Type 1. For 連用形 of this type, it can be used like any other noun grammatically. It needs no context to be understood in isolation as a noun phrase with a specific meaning. This does not mean that the 連用形 can be used verbally. So, we could say that 光 may belong here.

Many verbs regarding psychological and emotional state are represented here as well as human cognitive activities, speech acts, and actions regarding expression.

1. ほとんどの臓器ぞうきが日ごろ休みなく働き続けています。 (休む)
    Almost all of your organs continue to work nonstop on a normal basis.

2. つかを感じたときは、自分の体が「休んで!」と言っているサインです。 (疲れる)
    When you’ve felt fatigue, that’s a sign from your body telling you “to take a rest!”.

3. 薬と死のにおがする場所からのがれる。   (匂う)
   To escape from a place with the smell of medicine and death. 

4. ISISのねらはシリアとイラクの国境こっきょう地帯ちたいにイスラム国家を樹立じゅりつするところにあります。 (狙う)
    The aim of ISIS is to establish an Islamic State in the border region between Syria and Iraq. 

5. エジプト市民しみんのぞかなうのか。 (望む)
     Will the hopes of the Egyptian people be fulfilled?

6. 新しい知らを伝える。 (知らせる)
    To inform on a new notice.

7. 魔女まじょ森永家もりながけ全員ぜんいんのろをかけた。 (呪う)
    The witch put a curse on all of the Morinaga family.

8. 川の流れ沿って泳ぐ。 (流れる)
     To swim along the current of the river. 

9. 難読なんどく漢字かんじ読みを覚える方法ほうほうを教えてくれませんか。 (読む)
    Could you teach me methods to remember the readings of difficult to read Kanji? 

10. どうしても何時間もいかおさまらない。 (怒る)
      (My/X’s) anger won’t simmer down for hours no matter what. 

Even though these are clearly nouns, they still individually can have odd restrictions.

11a. きょうは仕事で疲れたなあ。〇
11b. きょうの仕事は疲れたなあ。〇・△
11c. きょうの働き疲れだったなあ。 X  (働く & 疲れる) 

In this example, we see a major restriction on 働き and 疲れ. Even when you replace them with the correct words, the grammar is still off. This demonstrates how semantic and syntactic restrictions work in unison to form natural utterances like 11a. Take into consideration Ex. 12, which demonstrates the most natural and common use of 行き as a suffix. 

12. 日本にほんゆき飛行機ひこうきに乗る。  (行く = ゆく)
      To ride a plain bound for Japan. 

Type 3

Many verbs need context to be used independently. The point here is at least they can be stand-alone nouns. They just need help to make any sense. Consider Ex. 13-14. 

13a. 泳ぎは体にいいですね。X  (泳ぐ)
13b. 泳ぐことは体にいいですね。〇
        Swimming is good for you. 

14. やっぱり魚は泳ぎが速いね。 (泳ぐ)
      Fish are definitely fast at swimming. 

Ex. 13 demonstrates how if you give the wrong sort of help, you get a bad sentence. Many examples of this are found in set idiomatic phrases. Some require a XはYが structure to appear whereas others simply want a subject attribute. The requirements to have these sort of nouns work varies a lot, which is why the mastery of this type is going to very difficult. You have to in a sense get used to how Japanese phrases things, which is not an easy task.

15a. 高まりを感じる。X    (高まる)
15b. 心の高まりを感じる。〇
        To feel an emotional high. 

16. 彼はかりおそい。  (分かる)
      He’s a slow learner.

17. 画面がめんうつが悪いですね。  (映る)
      The quality of the screen is bad, isn’t it?

18. エンジンのかかりおそい。  (かかる)
      The engine starts up slowly. 

19.  庖丁ほうちょうがなまって切れが悪くなった。  (切れる)
       The kitchen knife has gotten dull and doesn’t cut well. 

20. 神経のつたわり遮断しゃだんすることで痛みをやわらげる治療ちりょうです。  (伝わる)
     This is a treatment to alleviate pain by circumventing neural transmissions. 

21. 内臓ないぞうくさが早い。 (腐る)
      Innards rot quickly. 

21. エアコンのが悪い。 (効く)
      The air conditioning doesn’t work well. 

22. 今年はピーマンの出来できイマイチですよ。 (出来る)
      The pepper turnout this year is not that good. 

23. 喫煙きつえんなどは、めぐを悪くするおも原因げんいんである。 (巡る)
      Smoking and the like is a major factor in worsening blood circulation. 

24. 細長くねばのないこめ馴染なじむ。  (粘る)
     To get to non-sticky thin rice. 

25. えだ湿しめっていて、が悪い。  (燃える)
      The branches are damp, and so the bonfire’s flame is bad. 

Type 4

The next group requires compounding. Do not think, though, that words can’t be in more than one category. Rather, we must truly investigate individual meanings of a word to determine what type it belongs to. For example, 出汁だし (soup stock) comes from 出す and would be an example of Type 1. Aside from this, 出し needs to be in a compound like ゴミ出し to work as a noun.

Because of this required compounding, you do sometimes get sequential voicing.

26. プロでもゆきろし困難こんなんです。  (下ろす)
      Removing snow is even difficult for professionals.

27. 江戸えど時代じだいの根相続そうぞくする。  (付ける)
      To inherit netsuke from the Edo Period. 

Item Note: Netsuke are small miniature carvings that are placed at the end of cords hanging from a pouch of some sort.  

28. 木造もくぞう2階建て全焼ぜんしょうしました。  (建てる)
      The wooden, two-story structure completely burned up. 

29. 2014年の梅雨つゆりは6月8日と言われています。  (入る = いる)
      They say that the start of 2014’s rainy season was June, 8th.  

30. 数字すうじわせじょうを使うのが便利べんりです。  (合わせる)
      Using a number combination lock is convenient. 

31. 昼のあとに頭痛ずつうがします。  (寝る)
      I have headaches after an afternoon nap. 

32. 失策しっさくあなめを国民に求める。  (埋める)
      To seek the patching of a failed policy from the people. 

33. さけ野菜やさいをごちゃにして焼きます。  (混ぜる)
      We mix salmon and vegetables together and cook them.

34. 結婚の話が立ちになった。  (消える)
      The talk of marriage fizzled away.

35. 人々の行きにぎやかだった。  (来る)
      The coming and going of people was lively.

連用形 → Noun → する Verb 

At times, a noun made in this way may attach to another noun, but to be used verbally again, it needs to become a verb by adding する, which will be introduced shortly. As we haven’t gone over how to conjugate this verb yet, we’ll just look at some examples of this phenomenon. Consider the following words.

 Phrase Reading Meaning Phrase Reading Meaning
 目隠しする めかくしする To blindfold タグ付けする  たぐつけする To tag
 粗探しする あらさがしする To nitpick  拾い読みする ひろいよみする To browse

Part of Speech Note: The あら in 粗探し is actually from the stem of the adjective 粗い (rough/coarse).  

Type 5: 連用形+に+Motion Verb

In the grammar pattern 連用形+に+Motion Verb plus a few other instances we’ll see later on in Japanese grammar, verbs that do or don’t fall in the categories above are able to be used like nouns while simultaneously holding onto their verbal meaning.

If you want to say things like “I am going to watch the movie”, you must use this grammar pattern. The Japanese for this is 私は映画を見に行きます. The grammar is very parallel to English. In both languages, we would never call the verb a noun, per say. However, it certainly behaves like one in this situation.

If the verb is a する verb made by putting する after a Sino-Japanese word, then you don’t even need し. So, say you want to say, I’m going to observe at Kyoto University. You could say 京都大学を見学しに行きます. However, you could just say 京都大学を見学に行きます. Either way is grammatically fine.


36. 私は一人でイチゴを探しに歩きました。
   I walked to search for strawberries by myself.

37. あわてて荷物にもつ取りもどった。  
   I rushed to return to get my luggage.

38. 彼は遊びに来た。
      He came to play.

39. 相談そうだん(し)に来る。
       To come to discuss.

40. 買いものに行く。
      To go shopping.

Sentence Note: 買い物をする is the verb phrase! 

Phrase Note: ~物 attaches to the 連用形れんようけい of verbs of type 4 to refer to the things that you do the action with. So, 飲み物 = drink, 食べ物 = food, and 読み物 = reading (material).

41. ぼくらは映画えいがに来たよ。
      We came to see a movie.

42. ばんはん食べに来ませんか。
      Will you come to eat dinner?

43. つまはハンドバッグをに帰った。
       My wife went home to go get her handbag.