に, せ, and other word modifiers


#1

Hi all,

I’ve noticed on a couple words (e.g., 大いに, 見せる) there are notes that say certain hiragana in a vocab are indicative of a word’s function. For example, it seems that に can identify an adverb and せ in the word indicates transitivity. I have two questions:

  1. How solid are these two rules/patterns? I imagine there are plenty of exceptions, but are these things I can rely on?
  2. Is there a full list of these rules/patterns floating around somewhere? It’d be very helpful in separating out vocab that use the same kanji! (I know there are other rules like ーい usually indicates an adjective, ーう endings indicate verbs . . . are there more?)

Thanks!


#2

As far as number 1, に makes adverbs from nouns. However, that is not enough to indicate an adverb.

As far as 〜せる this is based in the causative conjugation, so any causative verb should be transitive. 知らせる、着せる are other examples of verbs that have become their “own verb” through the causative conjugation. However, all verbs that have せる do not have that origin, like 痩せる which is an intransitive verb.


#3

Thank you for the response :slight_smile: Seems like I need to get more comfortable with my conjugations!


#4

There are a few more like さ turns an adjective into a noun meaning the measurement thereof (高さ = height), く turns an adjective into an adverb (although there are obviously plenty of 〜く verbs), a verb conjugated into the て form usually serves as an adverb (ex. はじめて) (and many conjunctions are built out of them like について).

Also the 2 major exceptions to い being an adjective are words where the い is part of a kanji reading (like きれい), or 〜う verbs conjugated into their noun form (like きらい) which you just have to learn case-by-case.

But by far the most unreliable/frustrating one is telling the transitive and intransitive ones apart in a verb pair. Some patterns always work like 〜らす/やす are always transitive but others are completely inconsistent (like つづく intransitive, つづける transitive, but やく transitive, やける intransitive, what’s up with that?) There’s a huge list of these patterns on imabi.


#5

Thank you for the insightful response! I’ll write those give the IMABI link a look. I’ve done a bit of reading on transitivity pairs actually, and what I’ve come away with is that ~す endings are always transitive, and words ending in ~ある are always intransitive (making their commonly ~える counterparts transitive; very helpful for distinguishing 分ける and 分かる from one another). However, there aren’t set rules on える endings because, as you pointed out, going from an ~う ending to ~る ending always ends with flipped transitivity from the original ~う verb, so you just kind of have to know the ~う half of the pair (e.g., 生む to 生まれる is transitive to intransitive). Then about 20% of verbs don’t follow any of these rules :sweat: