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Expressions of Ability
Part 1: How to Express Ability and Potential
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Answers for Exercises

Page 1 of 2

Ability and potential can be expressed by two different ways.

(1) Attaching the phrase "~ koto ga dekiru (~ことができる)" after the basic form of the verb. Literally "koto (こと)" means "thing," and "dekiru (できる)" means "can do." The formal form of "~ koto ga dekiru (~ことができる)" is "~ koto ga dekimasu (~ことができます)," and past tense is "~ koto ga dekita (~ koto ga dekimashita)."

Nihongo o hanasu koto ga dekiru.
日本語を話すことができる。
I can speak Japanese.
Piano o hiku koto ga dekimasu.
ピアノを弾くことができます。
I can play piano.
Yuube yoku neru koto ga dekita.
夕べよく寝ることができた。
I could sleep well last night.

"~ dekiru (~できる)" can be directly attached to a noun, if a verb is closely associated with its direct object.

Nihongo ga dekiru.
日本語ができる。
I can speak Japanese.
Piano ga dekimasu.
ピアノができます。
I can play piano.

(2) By potential form of the verb. Potential verb forms are formed as shown below.

Basic form Potential form
U-verbs:
replace the final "~u"
with "~eru".
iku (to go)
行く
ikeru
行ける
kaku (to write)
書く
kakeru
書ける
RU-verbs:
replace the final "~ ru"
with "~ rareru".
miru (to see)
見る
mirareru
見られる
taberu (to eat)
食べる
taberareru
食べられる
Irregular verbs kuru (to come)
来る
koreru
来れる
suru (to do)
する
dekiru
できる

In informal conversation, "~ra (~ら)" is often dropped from potential form of RU-verbs. For example, "mireru (見れる)" and "tabereru (食べれる)" instead of "mirareru (見られる)" and "taberareru (食べられる)."

The potential form of the verb can be replaced with the form using "~ koto ga dekiru (~ことができる)." It is more colloquial and less formal to use the potential form of the verb.

Supeingo o hanasu
koto ga dekiru.
スペイン語を話すことができる。
I can speak Spanish.
Supeingo o hanaseru.
スペイン語を話せる。
Sashimi o taberu koto ga dekiru.
刺身を食べることができる。
I can eat raw fish.
Sashimi o taberareru.
刺身を食べられる。

Here are some exercises. Translate into Japanese.

(1) I can write hiragana.
(2) I can't drive a car.
(3) Can you play guitar?
(4) Tom could read this book when he was five.
(5) Can I buy the ticket here?

Answers on the next page!

Next page > Answers for Exercises > Page 1, 2

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