It was my understanding that only verbs can end in る. Is this some sort of odd exception, or is there a unique explanation behind it?
Pretty sure your understanding was wrong, nothing preventing a word from ending in る, though they usually are verbs. Beginner materials often phrase this stuff in misleading terms, like, “verbs end in る！”, so I understand why you’d think it. Same goes with い: a word ending in い isn’t necessarily an adjective, it could be a stem verb or just a word that ends with い （like きれい).
A rule of thumb is that if the る is “part” of the Kanji (like in 夜) its not a verb, if you see a Kanji+る (like 走る) it is a verb, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there were exceptions.
Definitely not a rule. Many verbs end in “ru,” so that’s certainly an association, but that doesn’t keep non-verbs from ending in “ru.” Think “haru” or “shiru,” which are kun’yomi readings. And there are innumerable loanwords… Also fewer kanji have an on’yomi of “ru,” so that might be limiting the number of words ending in “ru” (fun article I pulled up: https://japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/24376/how-many-unique-onyomi-are-there)
I think you hit the nail on the head here. Thanks!
Regular verbs end in う-sound that might be anything from う、す、ふ、ぶ、む to る etc… You can check a hiragana chart for all the U-ending hiragana, they’re all on the same row of the chart.
Yeah, there are even words with [kanji]+い that aren’t i-adjectives, like 勢い, which means “force,” but I’ve answered “forceful” more than once.
That’s pretty common. Verbs that end in う in the dictionary form end in い in the continuative, noun-forming base, so 笑う (to laugh) becomes 笑い (a laugh) and so on. 勢い is kind of an exceptional case, though, because it’s not formed off a verb that ends in う, but off an archaic verb that ends in ふ (which no verbs in modern Japanese end in).
Yeah, I guess in my head I don’t think of 笑い in the same category as 勢い, because as you said it’s formed by modifying the verb, which I think of as “the real word” and any other forms of it are just temporary things that float around in my head.
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