Japanese Grammar: Potential Verb in Japanese

1.Potential Verbs
Noun / Verb dictionary form + こと が できますwas explained in Lesson 18as a form expressing potential. This lesson explains potential verbs in another form.
2.Sentences in which potential verbs are used
1)Potential Verbs indicate states, not actions. Thus, although the object of a transitive verb is indicated by the particle , the object of a potential verb is usually indicated by .
(1)わたし は にほんご はなします.
I speak Japanese .
(2)わたし は にほんご はなせます.
I can speak Japanese.
Particles other than を remain the same:
(1)ひとり で びょういん へ いけますか
Can you get to the hospital on your own?
(2)たなかさん に あえませんでした.
I was unable to meet Mr. Tanaka.
2)A potential verb can be used to state someone’s ability to do something, as in example (1), or to indicate that an action is possible in a certain situation, as in example.
(1)ミ-ラさん は かんじ が よめます.
Mr. Miller can read kanji.
(2)この ぎんこう で ドル が かえられます.
You can change dollars at this bank.
3.みえます and きこえます
みえます and きこえます are not volitional, they denote something (indicated by が) naturally coming into sight, or a sound reaching one’s ears, independent of one’s will. みえます and きこえます cannot be used to talk about a person deliberately paying attention to something in that case, a potential verb is used:
(1)しんかせん から ふじさん が みえます.
You can see Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen.
(2)ラジオ の おと が きこえます.
The sound of a radio can be heard.
(3)しんじゅく で いま くろさわ の えいが が みられます.
You can watch a Kurosawa film in Shinjuku at the moment.
(4)でんわ で てんきよほう が きけます.
You can listen to the weather forecast on the telephone.
The sense of the verb できます introduced here is to ‘come into being’, ‘be completed’, ‘be finished’, ‘be made’, etc.
(1)えき の まえ に おおきい ス-パ- が できました.
A big supermarket was built in front of the station.
(2)とけい の しゅうり は いつ できますか.
When can you repair this watch by?
5. しか
しか is appended to nouns, quantifier, etc., And is always used with negative. A sentences that contains it negates everything except the word to which it is attached. When used with a noun to which a particle is attached, it is appended to the particle unless this is が orを, which it replaces. It suggests insufficiency or inadequacy:
(1)ロ-マじ しか かけません.
I can only write Romaji.
(2)ロ-マじ だけ かけません.
I can write Romaji [but nothing else].
6.N は(contrast)
In addition to introducing a topic, は can also indicate a contrast.
(1)ワイン は のみます が ビ-ルは のみません.
I drink wine, but I don’t drink beer.
(2)きのう は やま が みえました が, きょう は みえません.
The mountains were visible yesterday, but not today.
7.はused to highlight a word with another particle already attached
As explained in Book I Article I (p.160), when は is used with a noun to which another particle is already attached, it is appended to the particle unless the particle is が orを, which it replaces:
(1)にほん では うま を みる こと が できません.
You can’t see any horses in Japan. (Lesson 18)
(2)でんき の いい ひ には うみ が みえるん です.
On a fine day, you can seethe see.
(2)ここ から とうきょう スカイツリ- - あ みえません.
You can’t see Tokyo Sky Tree from here.

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