Verbs or Nouns? Transform 100x your Japanese studies

Many want to increase their vocabulary in the Japanese language, the verb being one of the main focuses, since it allows people to express actions. There are some simple techniques that can triple your Japanese learning, we will see these 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 of this is done by transforming verbs into nouns, verbs into 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, to accomplish or to cause. through this verb you can transform any noun, adjective or word into a verb. Many Japanese verbs use suru.

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

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 Dictionary するsuru 
 Formalします shimasu 
 Informal Past したshita 
 Formal Past しましたshimashita 
 Informal Negative しないshinai 
 Formal Negative しませんshimasen 
 Informal Past Negative しなかったshinakatta 
 Formal Negative Past 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 nouns into 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 when removing or adding such words, you learn another word, thus doubling your vocabulary. Here are some examples:

  • Marriage "kekkon"[結婚] - Get married"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 Japanese verbs is called doushi no meishika [動詞の名詞化] and should not be seen as a way to transform verbs into nouns.

Particles are usually used 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 the transformation of 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 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 words or verbs, just when translating.

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

Let it be clear that nominalization it is 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 that koto [こと] or no [の] is totally necessary and useful to conjugate a verb in the middle of the sentence. Other situations, on the other hand, have absolutely no sense in naming. 
No, koto and renyoukei - turning verbs into nouns in Japanese

What is the difference between [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, taken; something untouchable. It is seen as a nominalization suffix.

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 that 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 the 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 follow the verb to be transformed [because of のだ];
  • When the sentence is followed by [ができる] [がある] [にする] [になる];

Cases where only 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];
  • The following verbs are to 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 the sake of simplicity the の is usually used when the external action takes place in the same place or time as the internal action.

Renyoukei - Verbs that really are nouns

Have you noticed in some sentences large 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 it has another very interesting function that is described in the video of the 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 you take the but u [ます] or [る] it becomes a noun. I’ll try to list some words below for you to understand how some verbs turn into real nouns.

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

We came to the conclusion that if we remove the [ま os] from the verbs it already becomes a noun. In some cases, the verb is only written 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 sub-nouns is in words like hanami [花見] which can literally be translated as "see flowers". 

I hope this article has made it clear that turning verbs into nouns is simple and doesn't need to be as confusing as many people do. Just face Japanese as it is, without trying to translate or understand it as in English.

I hope you enjoyed this short article, if you did, share it and leave your comments. Don’t forget to visit my friend there 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:

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