Verbs - Potential Form - 可能形 - Kanou Kei

In Japanese, the ability to do a certain action is expressed by conjugating the verb. This is to indicate whether something is possible or not to be done.


  • 生の魚が食べられません。
  • nama no sakana ga taberaremasen
  • I can't eat raw fish;

There are different types of verbs and rules to be converted to the potential form. The first one that we will see will be the verbs that end in "U".


Verbs ending in “U”

To convert a verb that ends in "U / う" in its potential form, it is simple. Just change the last syllable of the verb for one of the same family that ends with “e” together with ru, that is, eru.


The table below shows verbs ending with "U" being converted to the potential form. The potential form should always be translated as: Get or Power do something (The verb).


Such verbs also have their formal version. That instead of exchanging for ru, you must exchange for but u. Example: 読めます

Verb Rōmaji Meaning V. Potential Rōmaji Pt.
読む Yomu Read  読める Yomeru
 話す Hanasu Speak  話せる Hanaseru
 書く Kaku Write  書ける Kakeru
 遊ぶ Asobu Play play  遊べる Asoberu
 待つ Badtsu Wait  待てる Badhave u
 飲む At themu Drink 飲める At themeru
 取る  Toru Pick up / Take  取れる Toreru
 死ぬ  Shinaked Die  死ねる Shineru
 買う  Kau Purchase  買える Kaeru
 焼く  Yaku To bake   焼ける Yakeru
 学ぶ  Mannabu Learn  学べる Mannaberu
 抱く  Givesku Hug 抱ける Giveskeru
泳ぐ  Oyogu Swim  泳げる Oyogeru

Verbs Finished in “RU” (iru / eru)

For verbs ending in いる or える, the only thing we need to do and replace the termination by termination られる.

But be careful, in some informal conversations the termination may be ignored, or they may abbreviate and not say "re". Example: 見る in potential form is 見られる but in some rare conversations someone can speak 見れる.


In the negative form -rareru is replaced by -rarenai. E The polished shape changes -rareru per -raremasu.

The next table shows the conversion of verbs ending in "Ru" to its potential shape.

Verb Rōmaji Meaning V. Potential Rōmaji Pt.
 食べる Taberu  Eat 食べられる  Taberareru
 着る Kiru  Wear 着られる  Kirareru
 信じる Shinjiru  To believe 信じられる  Shinjirareru
 寝る Neru  Sleep / Sleep 寝られる  Nerareru
 起きる Okiru  Rise 起きられる  Okirareru
 出る Deru  Let out 出られる  Derareru
 掛ける Kakeru  Grab 掛けられる  Kakerareru
 調べる Shiraberu  To examine 調べられる  Shiraberareru
 見る Miru  Look / See 見られる  Mirareru
 開ける Akeru  Open 開けられる  Akerareru
 落ちる Ochiru  Fall 落ちられる  Ochirareru
 遅れる Okureru  Delay 遅れらせる  Okurerareru
 慣れる Nareru  get-used-to 慣れられる  Narerareru

Irregular verbs

There is also Irregular Verbs that no rule or way to convert to potential. So the way and record in the head.

Verb Rōmaji Translation Potential Rōmaji
する Suru Do できる Dekiru
来る Kuru Come over 来られる korareru
愛する Aisuru Love 愛できる Aidekiru

Performing the conjugation

In sentences in which the potential form is used, the object is more commonly followed by the particle が (ga) than by を (o / wo).

  • 肉を食べる。 (niku wo taberu) - Like Meat;
  • 肉が食べられる。 (niku ga taberareru) - I can / can eat meat;
  • 本を読む。 (hon wo yomu) - I read (read) the book;
  • 本が読める。 (hon wo yomeru) - I can / can read the book;

It is quite simple how to conjugate the verb. Just remember the rules and details. You can also use the formal “masu” way as shown in the examples below:

  • 彼女は六時に起きられません。 Kanojo wa roku-ji ni oki raremasen (She can't wake up at six.)
  • 彼は六時に起きれます。 Kare wa roku-ji ni oki remasu - (He manages to wake up at six.)

We note that the formal “masu” way of saying the phrase was used first, while in the second sentence we also use the abbreviation leaving out the syllable “frog“.

This was just a brief article on Verbs in their potential form. This does not mean that you can freely assemble sentences, there are many related things that we have not yet studied. Let's wait for a next article to find other ways to express these phrases, and create some explanatory examples. Feel free to leave hints and suggestions for the next related article, or to add or correct something from this article.