380 - ~られる (-able)

In our last lesson, we looked at how ~られる can be used to change verbs into their potential form.

As a result, I know you've fallen deeply is in love with られる and want to study it every day.

No? Well, you better.

Because られる is happening. Though we're not gonna do them all at once, in total we have eight different られる lessons.

To summarize: There are many uses of the ~られる ending of verbs.

The one we're looking at today is...


JLPT N3: ~られる (evaluating functionality & quality)

So what does "evaluating functionality and quality" mean?

I don't know, man. Why don't you teach this lesson?

...

...

...

Fine, I'll teach it myself.

A better title for this ~られる is "VERB-able."

Consider these English verbs being made into adjectives:

laugh → laughable
drink → drinkable
eat → edible
relate → relatable
think → thinkable

I think this phenomenon in English is the closest thing to the grammar we're looking at today.

Consider the following sentence:

この川の水は飲めません
この かわ の みず は のめません。
You cannot drink this river's water. // The water in this river is not drinkable.
Literally: "this + river + の + water + は + cannot drink."

Now, you know from the last lesson that 飲めません is the negative present potential form of the verb 飲む (のむ // to drink). That is, 飲めません (のめません) means "cannot drink."

But in the sentence above, it does not literally mean "unable to drink." Rather, it means that one "should not drink." The water is not of an acceptable quality for drinking.

Translation: The water is not drinkable.


Confession: I never knew that this usage of ~られる was categorized separately from the potential form that we looked at in the last lesson.

I mean, "can drink," "drinkable," it's all the same!

Well, almost.

But there is one difference worth noting: We cannot use ~ことができる (which we looked at recently) for the "drinkable" version of the potential form.

Don't care? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Three examples, and then you'll be one step closer to ~られる mastery...


もっと稼げる仕事がしたいです。
もっと かせげる しごと が したい です。
I want to have a job where I can make more money.
Literally: "more + can earn (money) + job + が + want to do + です."


この山は珍しいキノコがとれます
この やま は めずらしい キノコ が とれます。
You can find rare mushrooms on this mountain.
Literally: "this + mountain + は + rare + mushrooms + が + can take."


In this last example, you can see that sometimes our translations don't have any equivalents of "can" or "-able:"

このコメディドラマは、かなり笑える
この コメディ ドラマ は、 かなり わらえる。
This comedy (show) is quite funny.
Literally: "this + comedy-drama + は + quite / rather + can laugh."
Note: In Japanese, "drama," ドラマ, pretty much just means "TV show" (with a story and live acting [not anime]). This would includes shows ranging from Friends to Breaking Bad. So it's not genre-specific to "dramas."


All done, homies. Peace.




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