Japanese Language and Culture

Continuative (ren'youkei)

Continuative / ren'youkei

Production Rules:

Rule Meaning
Plain Affirmative [い-stem]
[i-stem]
[do] and; [doing]

Inflection Examples:

Plain Affirmative
食べる
taberu
(to eat)
食べ
tabe
話す
hanasu
(to speak)
話し
hanashi
歩く
aruku
(to walk)
歩き
aruki
泳ぐ
oyogu
(to swim)
泳ぎ
oyogi
呼ぶ
yobu
(to call)
呼び
yobi
飲む
nomu
(to drink)
飲み
nomi
死ぬ
shinu
(to die)
死に
shini
作る
tsukuru
(to make)
作り
tsukuri
待つ
matsu
(to wait)
待ち
machi
洗う
arau
(to wash)
洗い
arai

Irregulars:

Plain Affirmative
する
suru
(to do)

shi
来る
kuru
(to come)

ki

Usage Notes & Examples:

  1. This form functions as a continuative, similar in use to the -te form. It is more literary sounding, and more apt to be used in writing (particularly formal writing) than in speech. The interpreted tense of the continuative is relative to the main verb which completes the sentence.
    • お手紙を読み、すぐに返事を書きました。
      o-tegami wo yomi, sugu ni henji wo kakimashita.
      I read your letter and immediately wrote a reply.
  2. This form is used to create compound verbs, and to attach many different verb endings. It's Japanese grammatical name is 連用形 (ren'youkei). It is often called the "masu" stem, after the most common verb ending that attaches to it. The "masu" endings have a historical conjugation pattern, and a special place in verb usage, so they are broken out on these pages as the "polite form". Compound verbs are created by attaching another verb to this form. The resulting verb's meaning is not always predictable from its two parts. In addition to established compound verbs, there are many productive suffixes (verbs and others) that may be attached to the ren'youkei. These are delineated in the Expressions section below.
  3. In many verbs, this form is also, by itself, a noun related to the verb. This does not hold for all verbs, so you must learn these nouns on a case by case basis.
    • 始め (hajime) beginning, from 始める (hajimeru) to begin
    • 騒ぎ (sawagi) uproar, commotion, from 騒ぐ (sawagu) to make a disturbance
    Occasionally in nouns formed from this pattern, the okurigana has disappeared when writing the noun form:
    • 話 (hanashi) story, talk, from 話す (hanasu) to speak
    • 係 (kakari) official, person in charge, from 係る (kakaru) to concern, to involve

Expressions

All the expressions below are formed by adding the suffix presented to the ren'youkei form of a verb. Where the result forms a verb, generally that verb may be conjugated normally. Other expressions form adjectives, na-adjectives, nouns, and are used accordingly.

-sou

  • -やすい (-yasui): Easy to do.
    Note that "yasui" as an adjective by itself means "cheap" not "easy" as in "easy to do something". For the latter meaning, the correct adjective is "yasashii".
    • Example goes here.
  • -にくい (-nikui): Hard to do.
    • Example goes here.
  • -たて (-tate): Freshly done, just done.
    • Example goes here.
  • -ごこち (-gokochi): Feels good to do.
    • Example goes here.
  • -かねる (-kaneru): Unable/reluctant to do; might happen.
    This is a frequently misused expression, even by native speakers. The reason is that it has the negative connotation of inability or reluctance already built in, so when negated it flips back to a positive meaning again. Still, it will often be negated where the speaker meant the original sense. It's similar to how English speakers say "I could care less" when they mean "I couldn't care less".
    • Example goes here.
    In the negative [i-stem] + kanenai it means that there is a danger or possibility that the adverse situation expressed by the verb may come to pass.
    • Example goes here.
    See this JeKai entry for a further discussion of this expression.
  • -果てる (-hateru): Come to an extreme.
    • Example goes here.

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