The Auxiliary Verbs ~き & ~けり

第013課: The Auxiliary Verbs ~き & ~けり

     The auxiliary verb ~き indicates (personal) past and shows direct recollection. However, the auxiliary verb ~けり indicates hearsay past and shows transmitted recollection. 

The Auxiliary Verb -き

     ~き indicates a past that is distant and separate from the present; ~けり looks retrospectively at the past. This, though, is speculative and not necessarily the case in each instance. However, this is typically how it is described. So, this site will go with the traditional explanation.

     ~き has an irregular conjugation and follows the 連用形; however, when used with サ変 or カ変 verbs, it may instead follow the 未然形. Its bases are:

 未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
 せ X き し しか X

Conjugation Note: ~き neither has a 連用形 nor a 命令形, and it is rarely ever seen in the 未然形.


1. きやうより下りし時に、みな人、子どもなかりき。
    When we left the capital, no one had children.
From the 土佐日記.

2. つひにゆく道とはかねて聞きしかど昨日今日きのふけふとは思はざりしを。
    I had heard before about the path that we go in the end, but I didn’t think that it would be yesterday or     today. 
From the 古今和歌集.

3. 片時かたときあひだとて、かの國よりまうでしかども、かく、この國にはあまたの年をぬるになむありける。
    Thinking that it would be momentary, I came from that country, but I ended up like this in this country       spending several years.
From the 竹取物語.

Particle Note: The bound particle なむ in the example above is used for emphatic purposes. 

4. おにのやうなるもので來て殺さむとしき。
    Demon like things came out and tried to kill us.
From the 竹取物語.

5. 一夜ひとよのうちに塵灰ちりはいとなりにき。
    In one night, (the buildings) ended up becoming dust and ashes.
From the 方丈記.

6. よべもすずろに起きあかしてき。
    Somehow or other, I also got up last night and ended up staying up until dawn.
From the 源氏物語.

7. 和歌の上手じやうず管弦くわんげんの道にもすぐれたまへりき。
    He had been a master of poetry, and he had also excelled in music.
From the 大鏡.

8. きし方行かたゆすゑも知らず海にまぎれむとしき。
    Not knowing the direction I had come from nor where I was going, it seemed that I’d get lost.
From the 竹取物語.

9. 雨のいたく降りしかば、えまゐらずなりにき。
    Since the rain fell hard, I wasn’t able to visit.
From the 大和物語.

10. この寺にありし源氏げんじきみこそおはしたなれ。
      They say that Lord Genji, who was at this temple, came.
From the 源氏物語.

Fossilization Note: You can still see this auxiliary verb in a few expressions in Modern Japanese such as in りし日 which means “the olden days”. Another one is 聞きしにまさる which means “to go beyond one’s expectations”. 

The Auxiliary Verb -けり

     ~けり follows the 連用形 and has a ラ-変 conjugation. As said before, it is important in showing hearsay past and direct past (recollection perspective). ~けり also has an exclamatory element to it where it can be viewed as the modern だったな. This, in turn, can show discovery. Both of these functions can overlap, especially in poetry. Its bases are:

 未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
 けら X けり ける けれ X

Conjugation Note: The bases are limited for the same reasons the bases for ~き are.


11. 行かずなりにけり。
      I ended up not going.
From the 伊勢物語.

12. えだからすのとまりけり秋のれ。
      A crow has stopped on a withered branch, an autumn evening!
From 芭蕉.

13. むかし、をとこ、身はいやしくて、いとになき人を思ひかけたりけり。
     They say that long ago there was a man who was of low status who fell in love with a person of high        status. 
From the 伊勢物語. 

14. このをとこ、かいまみてけり。
      This man ended up looking through the hedge (at the sisters).
From the 伊勢物語.

15. その人の名忘れにけり。
       I ended up forgetting that person’s name.
From the 伊勢物語.

16. 「ここやいどこ」と問ひければ、「土佐のとまり」と言ひけり。
       When I asked, “Where is this place”, they said, “The landing at Tosa”.
From the 土佐日記.

17. その人、ほどなくせにけりと聞きはべりし。
      I heard people say that person passed away before long.
From the 徒然草.

18. 見渡せば柳櫻やなぎさくらをこきまぜてみやこぞ春のにしきなりける。
      When I looked across the willow and cherry blossom trees mix together, the capital was a brocade of       spring!  
From the 古今和歌集.

19. わたりし時はみづばかり見えし田どもも、みな刈りはててけり。
      I found that even the rice fields that had appeared filled with water when I came here had all been           completely harvested.
From the 更級日記.

20. 今は昔、竹取たけとりおきなといふものありけり。
      Now in the distant past, it is said that there was a person called “Old Man the Bamboo Cutter”.
From the 竹取物語.

21. うちおどろきたれば、夢なりけり。
      When I suddenly woke up, I realized that it was just a dream!
From the 更級日記.

22. 昔、をとこありけり。身はいやしながら、母なむ宮なりける。
      It is said that long ago there was a man. While his status was low, his mother was a princess.
From the 伊勢物語.

23. まことかと聞きて見つれば、ことかざれる玉の枝にぞありける。
      He listened, wondering if it was real, and when he looked closely, he discovered that it was a         jeweled branch.
From the 竹取物語.

24. 仁和にんなのみかど、みこにおはしましける時に、人にわかなたまひけるおほむうた。
      An honorable poem from when Emperor Ninna was a prince and bestowed young herbs on a         person.
From the 古今和歌集.

25. 野を見れば春めきにけり。
      When I look at the wild field, it has become spring-like.
From the 拾遺集.

26. 今夜こよひ十五夜じふごやなりけり。
      Tonight is the fifteenth night!
From the 源氏物語.

27. 鳴くこゑぬえにぞ似たりける。
      The crying voice resembled that of the nue.
From the 平家物語.

28. 櫻花あうくわ咲き染めにけり。
     The cherry blossoms have blossomed and tinted.

29. その根のありければ、きりくひの僧正そうじやうといひけり。
      Since that tree stump was there, people called him “Archbishop Tree Stump”.
From the 徒然草.

30. 一來法師打死ほふしうちじにしてんげり。
      Priest Ichirai ended up dying in battle.
From the 平家物語.

31. 在原なりけるをのこ
      The man who was of the Ariwara Clan.

32. 七夕たなばたまつるこそなまめかしけれ。
      Celebrating Tanabata is indeed elegant.
From the 徒然草.

33. くちなはをば大井川おほゐがはに流してけり。
      He ended up throwing the snake into the Ooi River.
From the 徒然草.

Historical Note: ~けり came from the combination of the ~き and あり.

Modern Remnant: ~けり survives in poetry today. The particle け actually comes from ~けり. It can also be seen in けりをつける meaning “to put an end to”. It can also strength the verb 因る in よりけり to mean “depend on”. 

34. ことと次第によりけりだ。
      That all depends.

35. 話は条件によりけりだよ。
      The discussion all depends on the conditions.


1.Describe the difference between -き and -けり.

2. What base(s) does -き follow?

3. What base(s) does -けり follow?

4. Create a simple sentence or phrase with -き.

5. Create a simple sentence or phrase with -けり.

6. List the bases for -き.

7. List the bases for -けり.

8. The 未然形 is seldom used for both き and けり. Why?

9. The 連用形 and 命令形 are not used for both き and けり. Why?

10. こしかば, what base of the verb and auxiliary verb is used in this expression?