Verbs or Nouns? Transform 100x your Japanese studies

[ADS] Advertisement

Many want to increase their vocabulary in the Japanese language, with the verb being one of the main focuses, as it allows people to express actions. There are some simple techniques that can triple your learning Japanese, let's look at those techniques in this guide.

The techniques in this article consist of word transformations. Most Japanese words can be transformed into others. If you are aware of this, you can triple or quadruple your Japanese learning.

All this is done by turning verbs into nouns, verbs into adjectives, adjectives into verbs, nouns into verbs and vice versa. Some of these actions are super simple, others need more caution. Ready to learn?

Transforming Adjectives and Nouns into Verbs

One of the most important verbs in the Japanese language is called suru [する] which means to do, perform or cause. through this verb you can turn any noun, adjective or word into a verb. Many Japanese verbs use suru.

Suru is an irregular verb that can be found in different conjugation forms such as:

Responsive Table: Scroll the table to the side with your finger >>
 Dictionary するsuru 
 Formalします shimasu 
 Informal Past したshita 
 Formal Past しましたshishite 
 Negative Informal しないshinai 
 Negative Formal しませんshimasen 
 Informal Negative Past しなかったshinakatta 
 Formal Past Negative しませんでしたshimasendeshita 
 Form – TE – て してshite 
 Conditional  すればsureba 
 Volitional しようshiyou 
 Passive されるsareru
 Causative させるsaseru 
 Potential できるdekiru 
 Imperative しろshiro 

Of course, there are numerous rules for transforming a noun into a verb, you can read some of these rules in our article on Suru and Shimasu – Creating Japanese Verbs. There you will have a complete explanation of the subject.

When studying Japanese, always be aware of verbs or words that end in suru and shimasu, because definitely by taking away or adding such words, you learn another word, thus doubling your vocabulary. See some examples:

  • Wedding "kekkon"[結婚] - Marry"kekkonsuru” [結婚する];
  • Telephone "denwa” [電話] – Call “denwasuru” [電話する];

When studying a Japanese word, always try to see if it becomes a verb or a noun.

Kevin's Tip

Normalization of Japanese verbs

You know what it is nominalization of verbs in Japanese? THE nominalization of verbs in Japanese is called a doushi no meishika [動詞の名詞化] and should not be seen as a way of turning verbs into nouns.

Particles such as no [の] and koto [こと] to normalize sentences. There are different ways of normalization that we will not cover in the article, because this article is focused on transforming verbs and nouns.

For me, nominalization is nothing more than a way of indicating the function of verbs in the sentence and not a new word as we have in verbs transformed into nouns in English. This also applies even to the verbs suru [する].

In case of suru, you take a word and add the suru [する] indicating that you are doing or doing a certain thing, or in the case of dekiru [できる] where you are able to do a certain thing. You don't create any new verbs or words, just when translating.

What few people realize is that the koto [こと] and no [の] followed by a verb does not literally transform it into a noun but rather complements it, and can simply be translated as a “act“.

let it be clear that nominalization it's not literally turning a verb into a noun, it only happens when translating languages. Despite that, learning about the action of [こと] and [の] on verbs is still important, so let's get started…

There are situations where the koto [こと] or no [の] is totally necessary and useful to conjugate a verb in the middle of the sentence. In other situations, it makes absolutely no sense to nominalize. 
No, koto and renyoukei - turning verbs into nouns in Japanese

What is the difference between no [の] and koto [こと]

The koto [こと] that we are talking about in this article is the same as [事] which means thing. O koto it is a conceptual, intangible thing, that is, something that cannot be touched, touched, grasped; something untouchable. It is regarded as a nominalization suffix.

already the no [の] is a Japanese particle with the main function of indicating that something belongs to another. But a [の] also becomes a noun that serves to nominalize verbs and adjectives.

Both [の] and [こと] can be used in the same situations, but there are situations where only no [の] or koto [こと] can be used. Below we will see situations where only one of them can be used.

Cases where only koto [こと] can be used:

  • When the following verbs involve communication or thoughts [話す, 約束する, 祈る, 伝える];
  • When だ, です and である follows the verb to be transformed [because of the のだ];
  • When the sentence is followed by [ができる] [がある] [にする] [になる];

Cases where only the no [の] can be used:

  • When the following verbs are [聞く, 聞こえる, 見る, 見える, 感んじる];
  • As for the following verbs are stop [止める, やめる];
  • When the following verbs are [待つ, 手伝う, じゃまする];

There are other rules and exceptions not covered, but for simplicity's sake, の is often used when the external action happens at the same place or time as the internal action.

Renyoukei – Verbs that are actually nouns

Have you noticed in some sentences some big verbs that look like they are 2 verbs in one? This is called renyoukei [連用形] or continuous form. This conjugation is used to join 2 verbs as in the case of the verb hikudashi [引く出し].

The renyoukei has another very interesting function that is described in the video of ta68mada below. He says that we can use this form to learn new words as in the case of monogatari [物語] which is also a verb [物語り].

There are many Japanese verbs that if we take the but u [ます] or [る] it becomes a noun. I will try to list some words below for you to understand how some verbs become real nouns.

In addition to [こと] many verbs end up becoming nouns with the help of [もの] which also means thing and really brings a more lateral idea as in the examples food [食べ物] or drink [読み物] which could be literally translated as something to eat or something to drink.
  • The verb hanashi [話し] can turn hanashi [話] which instead of meaning to speak becomes a tale or story.
  • The verb yomi [飲み] can be a noun meaning alcoholic drink.
  • The verb to live [生き] can be a noun meaning freshness, vivacity.

We came to the conclusion that if we remove the [ます] from the verbs it already becomes a noun. In some cases, the verb is being written only with an ideogram, but its reading is exactly the same as the form but u as in the case of [話] and [物語].

Another form of verbs the verbs being literally used as nouns is in words like hanami [花見] which can be literally translated as "seeing flowers". 

I hope this article has made it clear that turning verbs into a noun is simple and doesn't have to be confusing like many do. Just face Japanese as it is, without trying to translate or understand it like Portuguese.

I hope you enjoyed this little article, if you liked it share and leave your comments. Don't forget to visit there my friend ta68mada. It has some sinister content that will change the way you look at Japanese.

The video below talks exactly about turning verbs into nouns:

Share This Article: