Japanese Study Materials: 可能の形 ・ Potential Form

Japanese Study Materials: 可能の形 ・ Potential Form
可能の形 ・ Potential Form

In Japanese you can express the idea of “can do” or “able to do” something by using the potential form verb conjugation. Godan (Group I) verbs and ichidan (Group II) verbs both have their own conjugation rules.

ごだん動詞 Godan Verbs

Start with a plain form verb (ふつう形), remove the [u] ending sound and replace it with the [e] ending sound hiragana, and then add  ます or る. All plain form verbs end in the [u] column on the hiragana chart, so you can just move down one row to find the corresponding [e] ending sound. You can also start in the polite/masu form (ます形) by cutting off the ます and changing the [i] ending sound hiragana to the [e] ending sound hiragana.

Examples ・例えば

  • (I) speak  → (I) can speak話す → 話せる
  • (I) stand  → (I) can stand立つ → 立てる
  • (I) read  → (I) can read読む → 読める
いちだん動詞 Ichidan Verbs

For this verb group you should start by finding the verb root, or verb stem. You can find the verb root by first starting in the polite/masu form (ます形 ). The verb stem is just the polite/masu form (ます形 ) without the ます. Once you’ve found the verb root all you need to do is add られます or られる.

Examples ・例えば

  • (I) see  → (I) can see見る → 見られる
  • (I) eat → (I) can eat食べる → 食べられる
  • (I) answer; reply  → (I) can answer; reply答える → 答えられる
Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs are just that — irregular. They don’t have any set rules. Fortunately there aren’t a whole lot of them. The most common are する・to do, and 来る・to come. 

Examples ・例えば

  • (I) do  → (I) can doする・します → できる・できます
  • (I) come → (I) can come来(く)る・来(き)ます → 来(こ)られる・来(こ)られます
Quick Reference Sheet
Potential Form PDF Download

If you see a mistake please correct me! You can leave your correction in the comments below. I am not a native speaker. I just have a love of the language and enjoy studying it. I made these study materials in order to help my learning process. I am posting them online in hopes that it can help others too. Let’s learn Japanese together! 🙂