Hi, everybody. I’ve been using WK for about 6 months now and I’ve been really upping my studying since I got accepted to JET, but this is my first post here (so hello!). I’m at level 10 at the moment, and recently learned 泳ぎ to express the noun “swimming”. I thankfully have several friends IRL that either are Japanese or have various degrees or studies in the language, but I didn’t want to bother my 二世 friends again and my question stumped my buddy with the Japanese minor degree.
My question is as follows. I know that one can add the particle の to the short form of a verb to convert it to the noun version, as in 話すの = “speaking”. Why does 泳ぎ not follow this pattern?
Thanks for reading
Some verbs can become nouns in the masu-stem form and be used standalone.
泳ぐ > 泳ぎ is one of those. You can say 泳ぎが上手. You can also say 泳ぐのが上手.
It’s interesting you mention 話す, since 話 / 話し is perhaps the most common masu-stem noun from a verb there is. As an aside, 話 has a bit of a quirk, in that the し disappears when it’s being used as a standalone noun, and し appears when it’s in masu-stem form for grammatical reasons (like 話しに行く go to talk)
Other common ones include 続き from 続く, 読み from 読む, etc.
But not every verb can do this and work standalone, so you kind of have to just pick them up as you go.
EDIT: And if you want an example of when you couldn’t use one or the other, if 泳ぐ is performing a role as a verb, then the masu-stem form isn’t going to work. So like 海を泳ぐのが好き (I like to swim in the ocean) is okay, but 海を泳ぎが好き is ungrammatical.
You answered my question thoroughly and accessibly and you have my appreciation. I’ll reference this answer moving forward if I get confused about verb-noun conversion.
When の comes at the end of verbs I understand it as “the act of/doing.” So, 泳ぐの would be “the act of swimming” as opposed to 泳ぎ, “swimming.” So to use Leebo’s example of swimming in the ocean: 「海を泳ぐのがすきだ」would be “I like to swim in the ocean” and 「海を泳ぎが好きだ」would be “I like swimming the ocean” (which doesn’t make a lot of sense).
Also note that I used the に particle rather than the を particle. The に particle marks a place where you do something at or something you do something to. The を particle in this case is incorrect because both 「海を泳ぐのが好き」 and 「海を泳ぎが好き」 become “I like swimming the ocean.”
EDIT: I was mistaken about the particles.「海に泳ぐ」is incorrect, it is actually「海を泳ぐ」
As an aside, I think both 海で and 海を are correct (with a subtle difference), but 海に is not.
Edit: Actually 海に might be correct if you swim down a river to the sea.
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