How to make Japanese potential verb

Have you ever heard “potential verbs” in the Japanese language?

They show the possibility of a specific action.

Let’s check how to make them!




Here is a backstory…


I published the video about Japanese particles,


Japanese particle


In this video, I explained which particle we should use in this sentence.

にほんご_ はなします。

Nihongo __ hanashimasu.


After that, I received a question.




Great question!



にほんごが はなせます。

Nihongo ga hanasemasu.

It’s correct.

But watch out!

はなします hanashimasu

はなせます hanasemasu


They are different.

The verb “はなせます hanasemasu” is called a “Potential verb”


Japanese Potential Verbs


Potential verbs show the ability/possibility of the action.


For example,

はなします  hanashimasu

はなす  hanasu (dictionary form)

mean “talk, speak.”

This is a regular verb.


はなせます  hanasemasu

はなせる  hanaseru

means “can speak, can talk.”

This verb shows the ability to talk/speak.


This type of verb is called a “potential verb.”


Potential verb or potential form?


Some textbooks may mention them as “potential forms,” as you can make them from regular verbs (I will explain it later).

But actually, they are different verbs, and they conjugate.


In fact, the Japanese language dictionaries for native Japanese people treat them as different verbs.

Here is one example. This is a popular Japanese dictionary for Japanese children.


Japanese potential verbs


How to make potential verbs


Let’s check how to make potential verbs!

**All the potential verbs are Group 2!**


Group 1


I sound before “ます masu” changes to an e sound.


はなます hanashimasu: speak

Potential verb 
はなます hanasemasu: can speak


Group 2


Insert “られ rare” before “ます masu.”


たべます tabemasu: eat

Potential verb

たべられます taberaremasu: can eat




They are irregular!

Just memorize them!


します shimasu: do

Potential Verb

できます dekimasu: can do


きます kimasu: come

Potential Verb

こられます koraremasu: can come


Are you familier with U-verb/Ru-verb?


**All the potential verbs are Ru-verb!**




Change the ending u sound into the e sound + る ru.


はな hanasu: speak

Potential Verb

はなる hanaseru: can speak




Insert “られ rare” before “る ru”


たべる taberu: eat

Potential Verb

たべられる taberareru: can eat




Memorize them!


する suru: do

Potential Verb

でき dekiru: can do


くる kuru: come

Potential Verb

こられkorareru: can come


Now you are ready to use the Japanese Potential Verb! 😊


Happy learning!




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