Question on te-form + いく/ゆく

Hi, I’ve come across words that utilise いく or ゆく with verb stems that are not in te-form (such as 枯れゆく or 壊れゆく), but as far as I know they mean the same thing i.e. withering/breaking (away) respectively. Is there a particular grammar point or usage I am missing here, like they are fixed expressions that need to be learned?

Thank you very much in advance!

Are these in song lyrics or something? I’m pretty sure these are classical versions or something.


I saw 枯れゆく in a game (the exact phrase is 枯れゆく森の奥で), and since most Japanese I’ve read recently are either from games or lyrics it might indeed be as you said that they are classical or literary!

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Just as general information Imabi has a section on this on this page about ~ていく & ~てくる:

~ていく → ゆく

~ゆく may seldom follow the stem of verbs in a poetic fashion. This is in fact the original form the pattern took, which is why it is deemed poetic/nostalgic. ~てゆく also exists, which is quite nostalgic and is very common in songs and literature.

  1. 大事な思い出も記憶から消え(て)ゆくのであろう。
    Even important memories will slip from your memory.

  2. 花燃えゆく。
    Flowers, burn away.

  3. 死にゆく。
    To be dying.


Games in particular are guilty of this. Secret of Mana still uses ゐ and it took me a while to figure that one out, especially the SNES versions where the pixel density isn’t the greatest.


Thanks a lot, that explains it!


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