Grammar Info

N2 Lesson 1: 1/23

()

Is able to, Can, Possible

Structure

Verb[ます+ える(1)

Exceptions:
Verb[ます+ ない(*)
Verb[ます+ (*)
Verb[ます+ なかった(*)

(1) うる
(*) For negative, past and negative past forms, only conjugations of える are used

Details

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About 得る・得る

() is a る-Verb that has the meaning of 'to gain', or 'to acquire'. When attached to the conjunctive form of verbs, it takes on the nuance of 'for (A) to be possible', or 'to be able to (A)'.
  • もし出来(でき)()ならば、2年後(ねんご)会社(かいしゃ)()()げたいと(おも)っている。
    If it's possible, I'm thinking of starting a company in two years.
  • いくら()をつけていても、交通(こうつう)事故(じこ)()こり()ものだ。
    No matter how careful you are, it's possible for a car accident to occur.
Compared to できる, meaning that the potential to do something exists. () means something closer to 'there is a possibility that (A) can be done', or 'the possibility to do (A) has been gained'.
Caution - () may be seen as either える or うる. The primary difference between the two being that うる is a relatively old form that is often seen in literature, and spoken far less frequently than える. Despite this, there is a tendency for うる to be the preferred spoken choice when the kana that appears before it is え, such as (おし)える becoming (おし)うる, rather than (おし)える.
  • そういう(こと)はセクハラにもなりえるので、そういう(こと)はやらない(ほう)がいい。
    Things like that can be considered as sexual harassment, so you shouldn't do that.
  • (かんが)うる(こと)は、すべてこの企画書(きかくしょ)()いておきました!
    I wrote everything I can think of on this proposal!
Fun-fact - () is far more formal/bookish than できる. However, there are several set phrases that are very common in daily speech that use this particular grammar point, such as あり() 'possible', and あり()ない 'impossible'.
  • うん、それもあり()ね...
    Yeah, that is also a possibility...
  • 電気代(でんきだい)がまた値上(ねあ)がりするみたいだよ。マジあり()ない
    It looks like the electricity bill is going to go up again. There's no way.

Examples

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  • 消防士(しょうぼうし)信頼(しんらい)うる(ひと)です。

    Firefighters are people you can trust.

    • その対策(たいさく)(かんが)うる

      It is possible to consider that countermeasure.

      • (たがや)うる土地(とち)()っている(かた)田植(たう)えができます。

        People who own arable land can plant rice. (can be farmed)

        • それはありえる

          That can be possible.

          • (かれ)群衆(ぐんしゅう)()にも()うる精神(せいしん)(りょく)()(ぬし)だ。

            He possesses the force of will to be able to endure the piercing eyes of the crowd.

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            得る・得る – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

            • DarkConfidant

              DarkConfidant

              if a verb stem ends with え is it more likely to be うる or am I reading too much into the examples?

            • gyroninja

              gyroninja

              I think you are reading too much into it (though maybe don’t fully trust me since I’m making an informed guess). うる is the classical Japanese reading of 得る so it will be more rare to show up and likely has some set phrases where it appears.

            • simias

              simias

              It may have changed since you commented this but now the entry for 得る does mention:

              Despite this, there is a tendency for うる to be the preferred spoken choice when the kana that appears before it is え

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