〈32〉3-16 Easy and convenient. How to turn verbs into nouns!!

                    32  ◆ chap 3  " The Japanese expressions & their secrets ! "  


                               part 16.  Easy and convenient.

                               How to turn verbs into nouns!!

This time, I'm going to show you a secret (?)  technique that is very easy and profitable to learn. It's a convenient way to turn verbs and adjectives into nouns. For some reason, this is not taught very often in Japanese language schools or textbooks, but is very useful if you know it!

名詞(めいしMEISHI, noun)

                        ◎ Let's look at verbs first, comparing the three languages!

In Spanish! --- For example, "comer" is a verb that means “taberu(eat)” in Japanese, but it is also a noun “taberu koto (to eat)”. So the verb form “Como Sushi" is “watashi wa osushi wo taberu(I eat sushi)”, but "Comer es importante" would mean “taberu koto wa taisetsu da(To eat is important)”.

On the other hand, in English! --- The ”eat" is just a verb, not a noun. Therefore “watashi wa osushi wo taberu" is "I eat Sushi", but “taberu koto wa taisetsu da” will be  "To eat is important", "It is important to eat" or "Eating is important”. The verb "eat" needs to be changed to "to eat" or "eating”, to make it a noun.

              What about in Japanese?

                 (1) Verb infinitive + "koto(thing)"

You already know the answer to this question. In Japanese, as in English, "taberu” is simply a verb. To make it a noun, you need to add "koto" ("to" in English). As I mentioned before, "koto" is an ideological matter, and "mono" is a real matter, so “taberukoto(to eat)” is a noun that refers to the act of eating.

"taberukoto wa taisetsu da!”(Eating is important)

Yes, eating is important to us. For some people, it is the only thing that makes life worth living. But there are many other things that are also important.

“nomukoto(drinking)”, “nerukoto(sleeping)”, “hatarakukoto(working)”, “arukukoto(walking)”, “asobukoto(playing)”, “manabukoto(learning)” and “kangaerukoto(thinking)”...  And for Hamlet, the ultimate question was “ikirukoto(to live)” and “shinukoto(to die)”.

Haha, I digress, but by adding ‘koto’ to almost every verb in this way, you can turn it into a noun.  I mean, verb infinitive + ‘koto’, easy isn’t it ?

      However, there is another way to turn verbs into nouns.

        (2) Change the final "u" in the verb to an "i" !!

Yes, that's right, just change the final "u" to an "i" in almost all verbs. For example, just change “iku(go)” to “iki(going)” and “kaeru(return)” to “kaeri(returning)” to turn them into nouns. In this way, “iki” means "to", and “kaeri” means "back", so instead of “oufuku(round-trip)ticket !”, you can also buy a train ticket at the station counter by saying “iki to kaeri !”.

“iki to kaeri !(round-trip ticket)

                                 This way to nominalise verbs are also very easy.  

“aruku(walk)” to “aruki(walking)”, “hashiru(run)” to “hashiri(running)”, “oyogu(swim)” to “oyogi(swimming)”, etc.  Of course, you can also construct sentences freely, such as “watashi wa aruki ga nigate desu(I am not good at walking), “kare no hashiri wa saikou desu(His running is great) or “kono oyogi wa iruka kara hinto wo eta mono desu(This swimming is inspired by dolphins). In this case, “hashiri(running)” represents “running technique” or “running form” rather than “running”, and is a very flexible form of expression. Feel free to use it as you wish, depending on the situation.

However, there is a slight exception to this. It is the "-ru abandon type" or "-ru outside type" verb, which was introduced a long time ago in10as a "strange verb". Do you remember them?

These are common verbs in everyday life, such as “taberu(eat)”, “miru(see)”, “okiru(get up)”, “neru(sleep)” and the slightly more specific “suru(do)” and “kuru(come)”, right?

But it's simple. With the "-ru abandon type" or "-ru outside type" verbs, all you have to do is, as the name suggests, drop the “ru”. So “tabe(eating)” for “taberu(eat)”, “mi(seeing)” for “miru(see)” and “oki(getting up)” for “okiru(get up)” become their noun forms.  Now you have the noun forms of all types of verbs.

                As a matter of fact, nominalised verbs of type [2] are pretty awesome!

You can connect nominalised verbs such as “iki to kaeri(going and returning)”, “yomi to kaki(reading and writing)”, “naki to warai(crying and laughing)”, “mi to kiki(seeing and hearing)”, etc. with the connection “to(and)”. But you can also in many cases omit the “to(and)” to create “iki kaeri(to and from)”, “yomi kaki(to read and write)”, “naki warai(to cry and laugh)”, “mi kiki(to see and hear)”, etc.  In this way, it is possible to enjoy a slightly different nuance.

For example, “kare no isshou wa masani nakiwarai no jinsei deshita (His life has been a life of tears and laughter)” or “anata ga nihon de mikiki shita koto wa nan desuka?(What have you seen and heard in Japan?)” have some poetic or essay-like elements. This kind of sensory play can be a bit difficult in English or Spanish.

nakiwarai no jinsei?(a life of tears and laughter)

     Furthermore, the second type of nominalised verb has other “tsukai-michi(usage)”.

This very word “tsukai-michi(usage)” combines the nominalisation of “tsukau(use)” with “michi(road)” (but here meaning "method", not "road") and is used in the same way as “how to use” or ” usage". 

Another way of using the word is to combine it with “mono(thing)”, as we did with “koto(thing)” at the beginning.  “tabe(eating)” and “mono(thing)” are combined to form “tabemono(food)” in English. And “nori(riding) by combining “mono(thing)”  becomes “norimono(vehicle or transport)”. That's easy!

Furthermore, “kai(buying)+mono” is "shopping", “yomi(reading)+mono” is "book" or "reading material", and “kaki(writing)+mono” is "writing" and you can also use “mi(viewing)+mono” for "spectacle".

                   Oops, I had forgotten another use!

                       Now let's try to link the types (2) with verbs.


Let's start with the simple verb “iku(go)” - "go to swimming. What is the Japanese equivalent of the English phrase "go to swimming."?   Yes, "to” in English is "ni" in Japanese, and "swimming" is “oyogi”. In other words, the correct answer is “oyogi ni iku". English and Japanese are very similar in the way they express themselves.

How about "go to see a movie."? That's right, “eiga wo mi ni iku".  And how about "go to shopping."? Yes, this is “kai ni iku",“kaimono ni iku" or “kaimono wo shi ni iku". But if you say "go to buy an apple.", then you are saying “ringo wo kai ni iku". Also, you can construct sentences in the same way with some verbs other than "go".

“eiga wo mi ni iku"(go to see a movie)

Of course, there are subtle differences in nuance between Western languages and Japanese, but these usages are quite similar and should be easy for you to learn. If you like, practice this trick well, asking and answering questions on your own!

              Finally, let's talk a little bit about nominalisation of adjectives.

It's very easy to turn adjectives into nouns too!  If the original adjective ends in "i", take the "i" and add "sa". “yasashii(gentle, kind)” “yasashisa(gentleness, kindness)”, “oishii(delicious)” “oishisa(deliciousness)”, “samui(cold)” “samusa(coldness)” are used in the same way.  On the other hand, copy adjectives, simply add "sa" to the end of the word. For example, “shizuka(Quiet)” “shizukasa(quietness)”, “kirei(beautiful)” “kireisa(beauty)”, “suki(like)” “sukisa(degree of liking)”, etc.

However, what these words mean is the level or degree of each adjective. For example. “oishisa” means "how good is the food?", “shizukasa(quietness)” means "how quiet is it?".  In English, "deliciousness" and "quietness" can be expressed by adding "ness" to each other. The Japanese is much simpler than that.

“yasusa bakuhatsu !!(Explosion of cheapness!)

Speaking of which, this nominalised adjective is often used in commercials. For example, in food advertisements, “oishisa hyakubai !!(Taste 100 times better! )”.  For electrical goods, it could be “yasusa bakuhatsu !!(Explosion of cheapness!)”.  It has quite an impact, doesn't it?  Are there expressions like this in Western languages?

                             See you next time!

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     33〉  ◆ chap 3 "the Japanese expressions & their secrets!”

                                   part 17.   "Watashi wa ... ga suki desu !" (I like ...)

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