Quick Contraction Reference

I thought I would write a quick reference to help people understand some contractions which I have found to be incredibly common in popular media and casual speech, but which most textbooks tend to gloss over or ignore. My hope is that I can save some of you from spending as much time as I did being puzzled over some of these.

This isn’t a guide on when or how to use these forms (although as a general rule most of them are casual speech, some of them are only seen in fiction), it’s just a reference to help people match up their standard textbook Japanese knowledge with the Japanese they might actually encounter reading a manga or light novel, watching an anime, playing a game, or even reading a youtube comment. If you don’t understand the basic grammar points before they’re contracted, you can find them explained in virtually any grammar resource but I personally recommend A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar. If not, you can always ask here or in another thread.

I assume most people know the following three points, and most grammar resources do cover these since they’re so incredibly common, but I’m listing them since they’re essential and prerequisites for everything else:

い sound can vanish after -て form
Examples:
愛している -> 愛してる

見ていない -> 見てない

見ていてくれ -> 見ててくれ

出ていけ! -> 出てけ!

出て行った -> 出てった

の can become ん

何をしてるのだ? -> 何をしてるんだ?

学生なのです -> 学生なんです

では becomes じゃ

ばかではありません! -> ばかじゃありません!

死んではだめだ -> 死んじゃだめだ

Ok, with that out of the way here are the contractions I actually wanted to cover:

あい and おい at the end of words can become ええ

行きたい -> 行きてえ

信じられない -> 信んじられねえ

すごい -> すげえ

おもしろい -> おもしれえ

ない can become ん

知らないよ -> 知らんよ

ら row sounds can become ん when they precede a な row sound.

何をしてるの? -> 何をしてんの?

来るな!! -> くんな!!

分からない -> 分かんない

Special case: Two ん’s won’t appear together, so ら row sounds instead disappear when preceding ん

何をしてるんだ? -> 何をしてんんだ? 何をしてんだ?

-てお becomes と

書いておく -> 書いとく

覚えておけ! -> おぼえとけ!

今、何しておる? -> 今、何しとる?

-ては becomes ちゃ

見てはだめ -> 見ちゃだめ

行かなくてはいけない-> 行かなくちゃいけない

-てしまう -> -ちまう -> -ちゃう

買ってしまった -> 買っちまった -> 買っちゃった

-でしまう -> -じまう -> -じゃう

死んでしまう -> 死んじまう -> 死んじゃう

れば becomes りゃ

見れば分かる -> 見りゃ分かる

勉強しなければ合格しない -> 勉強しなけりゃ合格しない

けりゃ becomes きゃ

勉強しなけりゃ合格しない -> 勉強しなきゃ合格しない

行かなければ -> 行かなけりゃ -> 行かなきゃ

Clarification note: ーなけりゃ and ーなきゃ are not completely grammatically equivalent. ーなけりゃ can’t be used by itself to indicate “must” or “have to” in the way that なきゃ can, for instance 食べなきゃ by itself means “I have to eat” but 食べなけりゃ can’t be used by itself to mean that.

りゃ and きゃ can be further shortened
I’ve only seen this very rarely, but sometimes なきゃ will get even further shortened to にゃ or りゃ will get combined with the sound before it, e.g. 見りゃ -> みゃ

いけない , ならない , だめ can be ellipted after a negative conditional indicating must or have to
Most textbooks mention this and I alluded to it in some of the earlier points but I thought I’d also mention it for completeness.

仕事に行かなきゃならない/いけない/だめ -> 仕事に行かなきゃ

勉強しないといけない -> 勉強しないと

Topic particle は can combine with the syllable before it

それは -> そりゃ

何だこれは -> 何だこりゃ

私は耳が聞こえない -> わたしゃ耳が聞こえん

いう can become ゆう

そう言うことだ -> そうゆうことだ

-られる can drop the ら when it’s forming the potential with an ichidan verb.
ichidan potentials are normally formed the same as the passives, e.g.
Dictionary: 見る Passive: 見られる Potential: 見られる

Sometimes on the potential only the ら is dropped and only れる is added. This differentiates it from the passive and makes the potential more closely resemble the potential formation of godan verbs.

見られる -> 見れる

食べられる -> 食べれる

って contractions
って can be a contraction of a variety of quotation と related expressions. Here are the four I think are most common and useful to be aware of:

  1. と
  2. という
  3. とは
  4. というのは / は (i.e. expresses a topic)

Examples:

  1. もうすぐ着くと言ってたよ -> もうすぐ着くって言ってたよ
  2. 中村と言う人が来たよ -> 中村って人が来たよ
  3. タグ付けとは何? -> タグ付けって何?
  4. あなたは親切な人ね -> あなたって親切な人ね

といっても and としても can become たって

逃げようとしても無駄だよ -> 逃げようたって無駄だよ

登山と言っても、ハイキング程度さ -> 登山たって、ハイキング程度さ

If there are any errors let me know so I can fix them immediately. Also, if there’s anything you think I should add let me know. I’d like to add some actual real world examples at some point if I remember to make note of them when I see them.

If people like this post and find it useful I might do a similar one focused on 役割語.

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Small error here, pretty sure this should be 「ばかではありません!」
I think it’s great to have all of these in one place, thank you!

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Also, the causative ~あせる ending sometimes trades the せる for す.

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Thanks, I fixed it and a couple other stupid typos I noticed.

My understanding is that’s 大阪弁. I’m kind of hesitant to add anything that’s from a dialect since to me that’s different from a regular contraction, i.e. I don’t consider things like いかない -> いかへん to be a contraction since it’s just a difference in dialects. Still, it’s good to know and if I make another post on basic 役割語 I’ll put it in there.

Isn’t it specifically that ない becomes ん?

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Yeah, that’s a more clear explanation. I changed it.

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I’ve never heard that, and I’ve studied Osaka-ben (though admittedly not rigorously). Tae Kim doesn’t mention it either when he covers the contraction.

Yeah, I was also taught it was a contraction, not dialect.

Ok I CTRL-F’d this thread to see if someone has posted とく

Basically, the “do something in advance”-ておく can be shortened to とく or どく for that matter. It is briefly covered by Tae Kim but it still caught me off guard when I stumbled upon it.

年長者の言うことは素直に聞いとくものだ
(You should obediently listen to your seniors.)
This would normally be a simple 聞いておく but as I said, it is contracted to とく.

I’d be glad if this was added to your fantastic list. Thank you so much for it!

He mentions the general case of ~てお becoming ~と, though admittedly I can’t think off the top of my head of any cases where this happens outside of ~ておく anyway (aside from the dialectical - haha - ~ておる).

I guess technically inflections of おく, but even so it might be better to just put it as ておく --> とく.

I actually did have it there, but the examples were all further conjugated so there wasn’t ておく or と< exactly which I assume is the reason your search failed. I added another example so if people search for とく or ておく in the future they should be able to find it.

You guys might be right, but when I looked it up I couldn’t find anything about it being a contraction. Everything I read said it’s an archaic form (I believe it’s where certain intransitive / transitive pairs like 動く and 動かす originated from) that’s still sometimes used in 京都 and 大阪.

https://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1365431908
https://ja.wiktionary.org/wiki/さす#助動詞
https://okwave.jp/qa/q8575182.html

It’s definitely good to know I’m just still not sure if I should add it here or put it in a separate post focused on alternate forms as opposed to contractions, e.g. だ -> じゃ, いる -> おる, ない -> へん

I was trying to keep the scope of this post pretty focused to keep it somewhat concise.

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looks fine :slight_smile:

What about adding おりゃあ、ぼかぁ、わたしゃ、あたしゃ、わしゃあ、おらぁ

Personally I’ve only come across ぼかぁ but maybe the others are common too.

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Potential form, where られる becomes れる (drop the ら). An easy example would be 来る => 来られる => 来れる. For extra details, this is wrong Japanese, but considered natural for Japanese people. More commonly used by young people. Some people say this happens as a way to distinguish these verbs in the potential form with them in the passive voice (since passive for る verbs is also られる).

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Similarly, I believe that in casual speech it’s common to drop だ at the end of sentences because it’s easily implied. Technically, it’s grammatically “wrong,” but apparently you’ll sound super weird if you throw だ on all your nouns and な-adjectives.

Instead, だ is pretty much only used for things like だけど and だから in casual speech, unless you want to add (masculine) emphasis to something.

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I have another one,
Verb[volitional form]とする if it is in the て-Form with a も, it can be contracted to たって
Here an example from Fullmetal Alchemist:

逃げようたって無駄だよ。
Even if you try to run, its pointless.
In Textbook grammar this would be 逃げよとしても無駄だよ。
Tae Kim also points out, that it can be can be contracted with ったって.

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It’s totally just people being lazy.

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why not both

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Here’s two more:

  • いう can become ゆう.
  • A whole bunch of と何々 variations can become just って. For example, と聞いた or ということ can become って. Of course the と could just become って while the part after と stays in tact, but I’m not sure if it’s a contraction at that point.
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