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Potential and Ability

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Potential and Ability

Postby kokoro505 » Thu 07.21.2011 9:06 am

Why do the Japanese have to ways of expressing ability? what are the purposes of these to forms?

koto ga dekiru

verb stem -rareru

oh, and when should i use each construction
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Re: Potential and Ability

Postby LordOfTheFlies » Thu 07.21.2011 12:02 pm

Usually the potential form means the exact same thing as "can" or "to be able to" in English, but it can depend a bit on which verb it is and what tense it is in.

I can give you some simple examples

話す(はなす) becomes 話せる(はなせる) in its potential form
日本語(にほんご)が話せます。 - I can speak Japanese

なる becomes なれる in its potential form.
私(わたし)は医者(いしゃ)になれると思います(おもいます)か。 - Do you think I can become a doctor?

However the potential form of する which is できる doesn't just mean "to be able to". It can also mean that something is completed/made, or that someone is good at something, it's a bit hard to explain.

見る and 聞く have the potential forms 見られる and 聞ける, however these usually don't correspond to what you in English would usually use "can see" and "can hear" for. In that case you usually use 見える and 聞こえる. Tae Kim has a great explanation on this topic and I recommend that you read it, as well as the rest of the page, it will probably help you out a lot - http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/potential

I hope this helps you to at least get started. Good luck :)
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