Lesson 121: Indicating ability with the potential form
In Japanese the ability to perform an action is expressed through conjugation of the verb, instead of by using auxiliary verbs like can and to be able to. This conjugation puts the verb into the potential form.
The potential form of all verbs ends in -る, and all potential forms are Group 2 verbs. Therefore, to convert a verb in potential form into -ます form, you simply replace the -る ending with -ます.
How the original verb is conjugated into the potential form depends on the verb group.
For verbs in Group 2, change the -る ending into -られる.
|Group 2 verbs||食べる||見る|
|Polite potential form||食べられます||見られます|
|Translation||to be able to eat||to be able to see|
For verbs in Group 1, change the final う-sound into an え-sound, and add -る as ending.
|Group 1 verbs||行く||話す||飲む|
|Polite potential form||行けます||話せます||飲めます|
|Translation||to be able to go||to be able to speak||to be able to drink|
The potential forms of, する and 来る are special cases.
|Polite potential form||できます||来られます|
|Translation||to be able to do||to be able to come|
When using the potential form, what in English would be the object, is the subject in Japanese. Therefore you will see the subject particle が where you would expect the object particle を.