文語 Bungo

荒れて、人目もなくはるばると見渡されて、木立
いとうとましくものふりたり。け近き草木
などは、ことに見所なく、みな秋の 野らにて、池も水
草に埋もれたれば、いとけうとげになりにける所
かな。別納の方にぞ、曹司などして、人住む
べかめれど、こなたは離れたり。「けうとくもなりに
ける所かな。さりとも、鬼なども我をば見許し
てむ」とのたまふ。顔はなほ隠したまへれど、女のいと
つらしと思へれば、「げに、かばかりにて隔て
あらむも、ことのさまに違ひたり」と思して、
 「夕露に紐とく花は玉鉾のたよりに

見えし縁にこそありけれ露の光やいかに」と
のたまへば、後目に見おこせて、
 「光ありと見し夕顔のうは露はたそかれ
どきのそら目なりけり」とほのかに言ふ。をかしと思し
なす。げに、うちとけたまへるさま、世になく、所から、まいて
ゆゆしきまで見えたまふ。「尽きせず隔てたまへるつら
さに、あらはさじと思ひつるものを。今だに名のり
したまへ。いとむくつけし」とのたまへど、「海人の子なれば」
とて、さすがにうちとけぬさま、いとあいだれたり。「よし、
これも 我からなめり」と、怨みかつは語らひ、
暮らしたまふ。惟光、尋ねきこえて、御くだものなど

…and you thought your cursive was hard to read. (Excerpt from 夕顔/Yuugao)

Preface:

This is version 2.0 of “The Bungo Page”. (and still **UNDER CONSTRUCTION**)

***Everything Under the Bar is from Version 1.0 and Much More Prone to Error***

It is my aim to make this the most comprehensive and accurate English language guide to “文語/Bungo/Literary Language”, “古文/Kobun/Classical Language”, and its direct influences on spoken and “modern” Japanese, including dialects old and new. Some of my assertions about word structures or origins is disputed, but where discrepancies occur I will do my best to refer to conflicting opinions about a certain topic.

I will use, for the most part, real examples written hundreds of years ago, but I cannot guarantee an exhaustive list.

If you have a specific question, please contact me at my email and I will do my best to answer, as well as make additions to the guide if it can clarify a certain point.

This guide is sourced by my own experience, Oubunsha’s “10th Edition National Language Dictionary” and its “4th Edition Fully Explained Classical Language Dictionary”, Haruo Shirane’s “Classical Japanese – A Grammar”, weblio.jp and kotobank.jp’s many dictionary sources, and finally gejirin.com’s ancient language and etymological dictionaries.

I highly recommend Oubunsha’s dictionaries, and part of this guide will address looking up words on weblio (easily accessible by smartphone).

This guide assumes a basic understanding of Japanese, as it will explain many classical grammar structures in terms of modern Japanese. However, it starts from the ground up eventually explaining very advanced Japanese grammatical structures, including those used in the highest level of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.

–Kafka Fuura / Self-Styled Japanese Language Linguist

 

Table of Contents

  • I: Getting Started [#]
  • II: Types of Words [#]
  • III: Basic Inflections [#]
  • IV: Inflected Grammar: Auxiliary Verbs [#]
  • V: Non-Inflected Grammar: Particles [#]
  • VI: Advanced Grammar: Concepts and Structures [#]
  • VII: Etymology: Word Formation and Relations [#]
  • VIII: Advanced Sound Changes and Dialects [#]
  • IX: Important Vocabulary and Honorifics [#]
  • X: Reading Kanbun and the Kokinshuu [#]
  • XI: Appendix I: Translation and Analysis [#]
  • XII: Appendix II: JLPT N1 Grammar [#]

Table of Contents [OLD]

  • Introduction [#]
  • Basic Conjugation [#]
  • Auxiliary Verbs [#]
  • Particles [#]
  • Important Vocabulary * (Not Yet Written)
  • Honorifics ** (Not Going To Be Written Anytime Soon)

 

I: Getting Started

[]

What is “Classical Japanese” and Why Should I Study It?

Classical Japanese is an umbrella term referring to the Japanese language as it existed in written form spanning from the Nara period (710-794) to the Edo period (1603-1868). (Pre-Nara Japanese is sometimes refered to as Ancient Japanese, but while the subject will be lightly touched on, it is not the focus of this guide.) While the Edo period usually marks the ending point of Classical Japanese, language that follows the rules of Classical Japanese is still utilized in written form long afterwards, used either for poetic or official effect, so the line is blurred. In fact, many classical grammatical structures are used in modern Japanese, just in slightly altered or restricted forms.

At least a basic understanding of classical Japanese is essential for an advanced understanding of modern Japanese. Classical Japanese, apart from being used in official documents and aspects of it tested in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), grammar based heavily on Classical Japanese will appear in light novels, manga, and even anime. Most dialects can be explained by a combination of sound changes and varying usage of Classical Japanese. Lyrics and poetry often tend to use classical or mock classical language. Japanese high school students all study the classics as part of their basic education, and that includes Classical Japanese. Most irregular grammatical behavior in modern Japanese can be explained by specific rules in classical Japanese, so on a practical level, it can help you remember and better utilize modern Japanese as well. Superficially, it will impress your professors, and eventually you can ask questions they cannot readily answer.

What Do I Need to Know First?

First make sure you have a basic understanding of Japanese, and make sure you know the Syllabary, Spelling Differences, and be prepared to encounter some Kanji Differences.

Syllabary

[Hiragana]
n’/w/r/y/m/h/n/t/s/k/_
んわらやまはなたさかあ(a)
 ゐり みひにちしきい(i)
  るゆむふぬつすくう(u)
 ゑれ めへねてせけえ(e)
 をろよもほのとそこお(o)
[゛=k→g,s→z,t→d,h→b] [゜=h→p]

[Katakana]
n’/w/r/y/m/h/n/t/s/k/_
ンワラヤマハナタサカア(a)
 ヰリ ミヒニチシキイ(i)
  ルユムフヌツスクウ(u)
 ヱレ メヘネテセケエ(e)
 ヲロヨモホノトソコオ(o)
[゛=k→g,s→z,t→d,h→b] [゜=h→p]

[Man’yougana (Iroha)]
n’/w/r/y/m/h/n/t/s/k/_
 和良耶万波那多佐加阿(a)
 為利 美比耳千之伎以(i)
  流喩牟不奴津須久有(u)
 恵連 女部祢天勢計衣(e)
 乎呂餘毛本能止曽己於(o)

Ok, you don’t have to memorize that last one (Man’yougana weren’t strictly standardized), but be aware that reading texts such as the Man’youshuu from source may require you to read or decipher Man’yougana as well as add in voicings based on context. You can find a more extensive Man’yougana chart with 甲 and 乙 distinctions at the end of this page. You may have also noticed two too many symbols in each set, the characters for “wi” and “we”. Those, and the following symbols you will have to know for this guide:

ゐ – wi (hiragana)
ヰ – wi (katakana)
ゑ – we (hiragana)
ヱ – we (katakana)

々 – repeat kanji
ゝ – repeat hiragana (ゞ indicates voicing on the repeat)
ヽ – repeat katakana (ヾ indicates voicing on the repeat)
/\ – repeat last two kana/kanji (often voiced)

Spelling Differences

Many languages, like English or French aren’t spelled the way they are pronounced, or pronounced the way they are spelled. This often happens when the pronunciation of sounds changes but the spelling stays the same over time. However, because these changes usually take place in a mostly uniform fashion, there are always certain rules you can follow to correctly pronounce letter combinations. Japanese used to be just like other languages with this “problem”, but the government mandated a spelling revision to help with literacy and made things (for the most part) spelled how they were pronounced. For instance, the word 今日 was written けふ, but by the time of the spelling revision, it was already pronounced きょう. Rarely (sometimes in songs) words like 今日 are pronounced as they are written けふ=”kefu”, but for the most part classical Japanese is read with the following sound changes that match them up with modern pronunciations most words.

Here are the basic rules:

Note: *-line kana means (*a,*i,*u,*e,*o)

  • All は-line kana when not at the beginning of a word become わ-line kana (exception: 溢れる)
  • All わ-line kana except わ drop their ‘w’.
  • All *a+う sounds should be treated as *o+う
  • All *i+う sounds should be treated as *i+ゆう (if い then just ゆう)
  • All *e+う sounds should be treated as *i+よう (if え then just よう)
  • All *u+あ sounds should be treated as *a
  • All *u+お sounds should be treated as *o
  • All *i+y* sounds should treat the y* as a small-cased y* unless there is a kanji boundary between the *i and y*
  • Treat ぢ and づ as じ and ず (except if つづ or ちぢ)

Examples:
今日:けふ→きょう
轟々:ぐわうぐわう/がうがう→ごうごう
十月:じふぐわつ→じゅうがつ
繩(縄):なは→なわ
会ふ:あふ→おう *(modern pronunciation: あう)

Kanji Differences

Though not on a scale that marks the difference between traditional and simplified Chinese, many kanji used in Japanese have changed or been simplified. Here are some examples:

来=來 (easy to see)
霊=靈 (easy to see)
当=當 (ok, ok)
与=與 (alright)
続=續 (huh?)
会=會 (wait…)
画=畫 (what?)

Many of the differences are directly related to the radicals within the kanji, so after a while it gets a lot, lot easier to guess, but before you get the hang of it, I recommend using dictionary tools on a computer to first find the character, and then copy and paste it into weblio.jp or a similar site that will give you detailed kanji information. If you suspect what modern kanji it matches, you can look up the modern kanji’s kun-reading and it will usually bring up the older kanji as well.

Looking Up Words

If you have internet access, kobun.weblio.jp [link] should be the first place you go to look up a word. If you do not know the classical spelling for a certain word (or kanji), you can try looking up the modern word on weblio.jp [link] – all words that have different classical spellings have them listed after the modern spellings at the entry’s header. When a word appears in the regular dictionary but not in the classical dictionary, it is usually safe to assume the meaning hasn’t changed. The regular dictionary should still list the classical form of the word as well as how it conjugates.

There are some words that will be harder to track down, like the word はつか, which through a voicing on the つ and a(n irregular) sound change from は to わ at the beginning of the word, leads to わづか, in other words, わずか or 僅か, the much more familiar form of the word. When you encounter words like these you can either play with possible sound changes, or look up the unvoiced version of the word at the gejirin etymological dictionary [link] (The index is at the bottom of the page.)

Remember that conjugable words are indexed by their 終止形.

 

II: Types of Words

You may know many of these, but it helps to know the strict definitions.

動詞(どうし) – “Verb”
 Defined as an inflected word in the predicate that ends with an ‘-u’ or り sound in 終止形

形容詞(けいようし) – “Adjective”
 Defined as an inflected word in the predicate that ends with a し or じ sound in 終止形

形容動詞(けいようどうし) – “Verbal Adjective”
 Defined as an inflected word in the predicate that ends with なり or たり in 終止形

名詞(めいし) – “Noun”
 Defined as an uninflected word that can be a subject.

副詞(ふくし) – “Adverb”
 Defined as an uninflected word that modifies inflected words and cannot be a subject.

連体詞(れんたいし) – “Adnominal”
 Defined as an uninflected word that modifies uninflected words and cannot be a subject.

接続詞(せつぞくし) – “Conjunction”
 Defined as an uninflected word that modifies nothing, connects phrases together and cannot be a subject.

感動詞(かんどうし) – “Interjection”
 Defined as an uninflected word that modifies nothing, connects nothing, and cannot be a subject.

助動詞(じょどうし) – “Auxiliary Verb”
 Defined as an inflected word that cannot stand on its own.

助詞(じょし) – “Particle”
 Defined as an uninflected word that cannot stand on its own.

Notes:

形容動詞 is often shortened into 形動詞, and essentially a noun paired with the verb forms なり or たり.

Adnominals are words that can only modify nouns, unlike adjectives which can also modify verbs and other adjectives, depending on their form.

 

III: Basic Inflections

[]

Inflection Table
Form 未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
四段 -a -i -u -u -e -e
上一段 -i -i -iru -iru -ire -iyo
上二段 -i -i -u -uru -ure -iyo
下一段 -e -e -eru -eru -ere -eyo
下二段 -e -e -u -uru -ure -eyo
ラ変 -a -i -i -u -e -e
サ変 -e -i -u -uru -ure -eyo
ナ変 -a -i -u -uru -ure -e
カ変 -o -i -u -uru -ure -oyo
く形容 -ke**
-kara
-ku
-kari
-shi
-ki
-karu
-kere
-kare*

-kare
しく形容 -shike**
-shikara
-shiku
-shikari
-shi
-shiki
-shikaru
-shikere
-shikare*

-shikare
なり形動 -nara -nari/ni -nari -naru -nare
たり形動 -tari/to -tari -taru

Example Table
Form 未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
四段:いふ 言は 言ひ 言ふ 言ふ 言へ 言へ
上一段:みる 見る 見る 見れ 見よ
上二段:おく 起き 起き 起く 起くる 起くれ 起きよ
下一段:ける 蹴る 蹴る 蹴れ 蹴よ
下二段:きゆ 消え 消え 消ゆ 消ゆる 消ゆれ 消えよ
ラ変:あり あら あり あり ある あれ あれ
サ変:す(爲) する すれ せよ
ナ変:しぬ 死な 死に 死ぬ 死ぬる 死ぬれ 死ね
カ変:く(來) くる くれ こよ
く形容
あかし
赤け**
赤から
赤く
赤かり
赤し
◯*
赤き
赤かる
赤けれ
◯*

赤かれ
しく形容
うつくし
美しけ**
美しから
美しく
美しかり
美し
◯*
美しき
美しかる
美しけれ
◯*

美しかれ
なり形動
しずか
静かなら 静かなり
静かに
静かなり 静かなる 静かなれ
たり形動
あんたん
暗澹たり
暗澹と
暗澹たり 暗澹たる

* There is a single adjective, おほし (多し・大し), that may use the あり form in cases where it is usually restricted (終止形、已然形). In ancient (pre-Heian) times 多し was used, but during the Heian period, 多し (終止形) was used almost exclusively in kanbun, while 多かり (終止形) was used in other texts (including the Tale of Genji). 大し had split off by the Heian period into 大きなり (volume rather than number), so this mostly applies to 多し alone. In any case it can be thought of as strengthening the meaning of “there are many” rather than being simply descriptive.

** the け/しけ 未然形 of adjectives is ancient and almost exclusively used with the ク語法. く/しく is often noted as being a 未然形 form of adjectives as well, but this is used exclusively with the particle ば, like the combination “ずは/ずば” is really only a sound change from “くは” to “くば”, utilizing the 連用形. It is possible to interpret く/しく by itself as a nominalization by itself (you may treat it as く nominalization or 連用形 nominalization), similar how to the nominalization of the auxiliary verb き can be しく or けく (which would make this seemingly “special くは・ずは” case more normalized).

Now I’m sure that was overwhelming, but feel free to check the tables as often as you want until these forms stick!

Here is a more in depth explanation of each word and conjugation form.

Word Forms

四段 – Yodan:

“Four Levels”
A verb that uses 4 of the 5 vowels in its conjugation (-a,-i,-u,-e).
They may end in the following: く、ぐ、す、つ、ふ、ぶ、む、る

四段’s modern equivalent is the 五段 verb. In fact they’re exactly the same, except that 四段’s 未然形 + う results in an -a+う which becomes -o+う due to sound changes, psuedo-giving 未然形 an extra vowel, thus completing 5/5 vowels. Most modern 五段 tables also have a secondary 連用形 conjugation because of the sound changes that take place when attaching the auxiliary verbs て and た.

Trends:
・四段 verbs that end in (く(ぐ)・つ・ふ(ぶ)・む・る) are most commonly intransitive verbs.
・四段 verbs that end in (す) are most commonly transitive verbs.
・四段 verbs that end in (す) may be formed from a verb’s 未然形+す (honorific auxiliary), but not always. These are often subject to sound changes, and end in -oす(if from 四段) or -eす(if from 上一段) frequently.
・四段 verbs that end in either *aす or *aる may also be formed from a verb that ends in *u, usually changing the original verb from transitive to intransitive or vice-versa. This *aす construction, like the honorific auxiliary す is also subject to sound change, and may end in -eす.
・四段 verbs that end in らぐ or やぐ or ろぐ come from nouns or adjective stems, where the suffix is related to the verb ゆく, and results in the verbification of said noun or adjective.
・四段 verbs that end in めく come from nouns, adjective stems or sound words, where the suffix is related to the verb 向く.

Examples:
見す・召す(めす) is an example of a not so obvious word formed by 未然形+す (みす→めす 音便).
温む(下二段)→温まる(四段) is an example of a transitive verb changed to an intransitive る-四段 verb.
明く(下二段)→明かす(四段) is an example of an intransitive verb changed to a transitive す-四段 verb.

If you look into really ancient Japanese verb formation you’ll find that while there are no strict rules, the ending consonants (くつふむる) often are related to the meaning of the verb. (This excludes the intransitive/transitive transformation verbs.)

ふ and む are more often associated with coming together.
つ is often associated with coming together or coming apart (rising, falling, releasing).
く is often associated with movement and/or coming together.
る may also be associated with coming together, see 入る(いる) and 煎る(いる).

At the very least it’s something to think about.

上一段 – Kami Ichidan:

“Upper One Level”
A verb that uses 1 of the 5 vowels in its conjugation (-i).
They may end in the following: きる、にる、ひる、みる、いる、ゐる

All verbs in modern Japanese that end in -iる and aren’t 五段 verbs, are now considered 上一段. There is no difference in the conjugation of these verbs, but most modern 上一段 verbs were originally 上二段 verbs.

Here is the full list of 上一段 verbs. There are only twelve.
着る(きる), 似る・煮る(にる), 干る・嚏る(ひる), 見る・廻る(みる), 射る・鋳る・沃る(いる), 居る・率る(ゐる)

If you include compounds there are about six more.
率ゐる(ひきゐる), 用ゐる(もちいる), 帰り見る・顧みる(かへりみる), 後ろ見る(うしろみる), 試みる(こころみる).

A small side note: いる verbs are technically ヤ行上一段, meaning they are や row verbs.

上二段 – Kami Nidan:

“Upper Two Levels”
A verb that uses 2 of the 5 vowels in its conjugation (-i,-u).
They may end in the following: く、ぐ、つ、づ、ふ、ぶ、む、ゆ、る

All of the rest of the modern 上一段 verbs were originally 上二段 verbs that were transformed into 上一段 verbs by dropping all ‘-u’s for ‘-i’s and merging the the 連体形 with the 終止形. (生く→生きる)

The easiest way to spot a modern verb that was once a 上二段 is that if the -iる part is written in okurigana, it was most likely a 上二段 (起きる, was originally 起く). Exceptions are those compounds I listed in the previous section, like 試みる. However there are so few 上一段 verbs I doubt you’ll run into problems mixing them up.

The thing with 二段 verbs is that you have to remember that 終止形、連体形、and 已然形 use -u and not -i on the stem. Another thing to remember is that as a general rule 連体形 ends in a る for most conjugations (not 四段, except of course for the ら-row, where -u=る), but 終止形 only ends in -u (or -i for ラ変).

下一段 – Shimo Ichidan:

“Lower One Level”

A verb that uses 1 of the 5 vowels in its conjugation (-e).
They may end in the following: ける

Actually there is only one of these words in existence, and it is 蹴る(ける). When it was modernized, it became a 五段 verb. It’s rather easy to remember, because it is the exact same as a 上一段 verb, except that it uses -e instead of -i.

下二段 – Shimo Nidan:

“Lower Two Levels”

A verb that uses 2 of the 5 vowels in its conjugation (-e,-u).
They may end in the following: う、く、ぐ、す、ず、つ、づ、ぬ、ふ、ぶ、む、ゆ、る、う(w-type)

All of the modern 下一段 verbs were originally 下二段 verbs that were transformed into 下一段 verbs by dropping all ‘-u’s for ‘-e’s and merging the the 連体形 with the 終止形. (消ゆ→消える)

The easiest way to spot a modern verb that was once a 下二段 is that if the -eる part is written in okurigana, it was most likely a 下二段 (受ける, was originally 受く). One thing that is important to note that while there are some 下二段 verbs that end in う (only 得(う) and 植う(うう) come to mind), most modern える verbs come from や-row 下二段 verbs.

Something to look out for is 植う which is a わ-row 下二段 verb. In other words its “e” sound is ゑ, not え, and of course you have to keep in mind that modern verbs like 答える come from 答ふ, so the “e” sound is へ, not え.

Trends:
・Almost if not all や-row 下二段 verbs come from using the spontaneous auxiliary verb ゆ. (見ゆ、消ゆ、燃ゆ)
・Many 下二段 verbs have 四段 counterparts that affect transitivity of the verb. (開く(mod:開く/開ける))
・下二段 verbs that are paired with an identical 四段 verb are usually transitive, but many others are not. (明く)
・A number of intransitive 下二段 verbs have an す-四段 equivalent that is transitive. (Usually an *aす verb).

Interrelations:
[消ゆ vs. 消す]
下二段 verbs that end in ゆ are almost all formed by a root plus the spontaneous auxiliary verb ゆ. However, sound change is common (聞く→聞かゆ→聞こゆ). Therefore while we might guess the root 消(く) is a 上二段 verb, it is actually a 下二段 verb, where the 消ゆ(けゆ) sound changed to 消ゆ(きゆ). If we just add the honorific す to 消(く) we would get a 四段 verb that fits 消す’s conjugation, but the meaning wouldn’t be the same. But what about that *aす pattern? That would give us 消(か)す. Now, you won’t find that word in the dictionary, but if you search hard enough you can actually find some records of a 消(か)す that fits what we’re looking for. You can then leave the rest to a vowel change. (I might also remind you that another similarly pronounced verb 化(か)す also changed to 化(け)す for a while). 消(け)つ is another variant.

The thing with 二段 verbs is that you have to remember that 終止形、連体形、and 已然形 use -u and not -i on the stem. Another thing to remember is that as a general rule 連体形 ends in a る for most conjugations (not 四段, except of course for the ら-row, where -u=る), but 終止形 only ends in -u (or -i for ラ変).

ラ変 – Ra-hen:

“R-Type Irregular”

A verb that is like a 四段 verb, except that its 終止形 ends in り, not る.

All of these verbs come from the single verb あり, but due to contractions and sound changes may end differently. As such they all have similar core meanings. In modern Japanese, they are 五段 verbs.

The most common examples are:
あり、をり、はべり
なり(に+あり)、たり(と+あり)
さり(さ+あり)、しかり(しか+あり)
いますかり/いますがり(い(居)ます+が+あり)

サ変 – Sa-hen:

“S-Type Irregular”

A verb that is like a 下二段 verb, except that its 連用形 ends in し, not せ.

There is only one of these verbs: す(る), and it hasn’t changed hardly at all in modern times, other than to make its 終止形 equal to its 連体形. Just remember that here the 終止形 is す, not する.

In modern Japanese 命令形 is more often しろ instead of せよ, though せよ is still used in written grammar structures.

ナ変 – Na-hen:

“N-Type Irregular”

A verb that is like a 四段 verb, except that its 連体形 and 已然形 are like a 下二段 verb.

There are only two of these verbs: 死(し)ぬ and 往/去(い)ぬ, and they both have similar meanings.

In modern Japanese 死ぬ becomes a 五段 verb, and いぬ is put into limbo. In some places it is interpreted as a 四段 verb instead of a ナ変 verb. “わしやいぬことはいやぢや\/”

カ変 – Ka-hen:

“K-Type Irregular”

A verb that is like a サ変 verb, except that the vowel sounds of its 未然形 and 命令形 are -o instead of -e.

There is only one of these verbs: く(る), and it hasn’t changed hardly at all in modern times, other than to make its 終止形 equal to its 連体形. Just remember that here the 終止形 is く, not くる.

く形容 – Ku-Keiyou:

“-i Adjectives”

Together with しく形容, く形容 are known as pure adjectives.

The main things to keep in mind are the 終止形 (し) and the 連体形 (き). Otherwise, they are the same as modern adjectives. The 未然形 form is rare, and only used with く(nominalizer), but it doesn’t hurt to remember that it is け.

All く形容 have an accompaning あり form, which uses the 連用形+あり, contracted to form a かり ending. One important thing to note is that this あり form is never used for 終止形 (with the one exception of 多かり). One important usage of this あり form is to negate adjectives, as なし (or ない) wasn’t prevalently used with adjectives until more recently. Instead, ~からず was the norm. In modern times ない is used as the negative form of ある, so ~からず to くない was a logical shift.

Many of these adjectives were formed from nouns, simply adding し to the end (赤→赤し). Others were formed from primordial verbs (熱つ→あつし), and others were formed by attaching to the nominalization of those verbs (危(あや)ぶ→危(あや)う→危(あや)うし).

The し that forms く形容 is derived from the verb 如く(しく), the same verb the recollective past auxiliary verb is derived from, which is why you see similarities in their conjugation.

く形容 may be nominalized by using けく and in other cases, just く.

く形容 are more commonly subjective, whereas しく形容 are more commonly emotional.

しく形容 – Shiku-Keiyou:

“-shii Adjectives”

Together with く形容, しく形容 are known as pure adjectives.

In modern Japanese, these adjectives lose their distinction from く形容 and become -i adjectives.

The main difference between the two is their 終止形. Instead of しし (if it were a く形容), it becomes just し.

If you encounter one of these in its 終止形 and are unsure, just try to remember the modern version. If it ends in しい, it is a しく形容.

Many of these adjectives were formed from primordial verbs (うつく→美(う)つくし), from nominalization of those verbs (たぬ→たの→楽(た)のし), and also from repeated compounds (すがすがし) though their たり forms were more common.

The し that forms しく形容 is derived from the verb 如く(しく), the same verb the recollective past auxiliary verb is derived from, which is why you see similarities in their conjugation.

く形容 may be nominalized by using しけく and in other cases just しく.

しく形容 are more commonly emotional, whereas く形容 are more commonly subjective.

なり形動 – Nari-Keidou:

“-na Verbal Adjectives”

Everything except に is stripped away in mod. Japanese and なる becomes な

All of the conjugated forms are contractions of にある, so it’s relatively simple to remember.

These words often end in らか or やか, where the か comes from the nominalization of the verb 如く(しく), しか. The ら and やs are related to あり.

たり形動 – Tari-Keidou:

“-to Verbal Adjectives”

Everything except と and たる are stripped away in mod. Japanese.

All of the conjugated forms are contractions of とある, so it’s relatively simple to remember.

These words are not very common, and mostly come from imported Chinese compounds.

Conjugation Forms

未然形 – Mizenkei – “Imperfective Form”:

“The Not Yet Finished Form” in layman’s terms.
This form is useful for (-everything-):

  • Negation (ず)
  • Volitional/Speculative (む*)
  • Negative Volitional/Speculative (じ)
  • Hopeless Volitional/Speculative (まし)
  • Desirative (まほし)
  • Passive (る,らる)
  • Causative (す,さす,しむ)
  • Honorifics (す+,る,らる,す,さす,しむ)
  • Spontaneity/Potential (ゆ+,らゆ+)
  • Continuity (ふ+)
  • Hypothetical “If” (ば)
  • Desideratives (な,ね,に,ばや,なむ)
  • Nominalization (く/らく**/上代語+***)

+ forms are mainly used in pre-Heian Japanese.
*む is also part of the following contractions: けむ (連用形)、らむ (終止形)
**く attaches to 四段, ラ変, and adjectives. Also attaches to き’s 連体形(し).
**in a number of rare cases し is used instead of く.
**らく only attaches to 上一段’s 未然形. Others attach to 終止形. (Arguably 連体形+sound changes)
***未然形 was used in ancient Japanese often as a nominalization method, and is associated with adjectivization.

連用形 – Renyoukei – “Continuative/Conjunctive Form”:

This form is used to relate multiple events to each other in time.
It covers recollective past, perfective, and present.
This form is useful for:

  • Conjunction (*)
  • Past/”Recollective” Tense (き/し,けり)
  • Past/”Recollective” Volitional/Speculative (けむ)
  • Perfective Tense (ぬ,つ)
  • Progressive/Perfective Tense (たり,り*)
  • Continuative (つつ,ながら)
  • Linear Conjunction (て,して)
  • な/そ Construction (そ)
  • “If Only” Desirative (しが,しか+)
  • Requesting Desirative (こそ)
  • Adjective “Even if” Conjunction (と,とも)**
  • Adjective “If” Conjunction (は)**
  • Adjective Emphasis (も)**
  • Adjective “If Only” Desirative (もが,もか+)**
  • Compounding Words (****)
  • Nominalization (*****)

+ forms are mainly used in pre-Heian Japanese.
*り is severely contracted, so it appears to come after the 命令形 form. The Japanese government categorizes it as a split 已然形(for 四段)+未然形(for サ変) auxiliary verb.
**Only for adjectives and ず.
***The 連用形 can be used instead of the 連体形 to attach a conjugated word to a noun. The result acts as a compound word and has a more definitive meaning. An “AB” rather than a “B that is A”. Its use is limited and is mostly the basis of compound words/places such as 迷ヒ家/迷子. In contrast to 終止形 compounding, the noun often becomes voiced, and generally only is used with single verbs rather than longer phrases.
****Adjectives in their 連用形 may serve as nouns in some cases (related to く nominalization), as well as verbs though this is limited..

こそ (emphasis) and some other bound particles such as や may attach to 連用形 as well rather than the usual 連体形/体言. Most of these particles also attach to the 已然形 in pre-Heian Japanese. (~めやも for example.)

終止形 – Shuushikei – “Predicative Form”:

This form is used to predicate a sentence, the “Final Form” if you will. It also is used to outline ‘statements’.
This form is useful for:

  • Sentence Break (*)
  • Volitional Suggestive Assumptive (べし)
  • Negative Volitional Suggestive Assumptive (まじ,ましじ+)
  • Qualifications (らし,めり)
  • Hearsay (なり)
  • Volitional/Speculative Supposition (らむ)
  • Pose Question (や(は))
  • “Even if” Conjunction (と,とも)
  • Exclamatory (な,も+)
  • Extent (ばかり)
  • Negative Imperative/Prohibition (な)
  • Nominalization (らく*)
  • Compounding Words (***)

*Attaches to 二段(inc.つ,ぬ,ゆ,しむ),カ変,サ変,ナ変. However, らく may also attach to 四段 verbs, in where it is the 連用形+り(未然形)+く, often with a sound change. Additionally rather than 終止形, らく for 二段 verbs has been explained as the 連体形 plus く with a to [あ] sound change, and enables a grouping together with 上一段 verbs. An extremely small number of cases of るし (連体形+し) have also been noted.

**The 終止形 can be used instead of the 連体形 to attach a conjugated word or phrase to a noun. The result acts as a compound word and has a more definitive meaning. An “AB” rather than a “B that is A”. Its use is limited but I have also seen examples in modern Japanese. It is relatively commonly employed with single adjectives, but occasionally forms from phrases (ex. with ず < arguably 連用形 compounding).

連体形 – Rentaikei – “Attributive Form”:

This form modifies objects, nouns, and is generally descriptive.
This form is useful for:

  • Attribution to Noun (*)
  • Nominalization (*)
  • Pose Question (* w/ bound particle: や(は),か(は))
  • Declarative/Emphasis (* w/ bound particle: ぞ,なむ)
  • Reference Attribute (ごとし)
  • Explanatory (なり)
  • Conjunctions (が,に,を,ものxx)
  • Final Emphasis (は,ぞ,そ)
  • Rhetorical/Exclamatory Question (か)
  • Final Emotional Movement (か,かな,かも)
  • Powerful Final Emphasis (かし*)

Many constructions (but not all) that normally attach to the 終止形 attach to ラ変’s 連体形.
*Technically attaches to 連体形 because of its か, but in practice always -ends- phrases, often after other particles.

已然形 – Izenkei – “Perfective Form”:

The “Already Happened/Completed” Form in layman’s terms. It’s a “secure” form, and has a strong emphasis/weight to it.
This form is useful for:

  • Strong Emphasis (* w/ bound particle: こそ)
  • Causation “When/Because” (ば)
  • Concession “Although” (ども)

こそ and や may attach to the 已然形 in pre-Heian Japanese. This leads to constructions such as ~めやも.

命令形 – Meireikei – “Imperative Form”:

This form is used simply for:

  • Strong Commands (*,よ)

語幹 – Gokan – “Word Stem”:

Not exactly a conjugation form, this is the part of the word that doesn’t change, and does not even form part of the ‘-‘ from the table. Words like 蹴る(ける) do not have any. Useful terminology for adjectives and so forth.

ながら, for instance, attaches to adjective’s word stems in one of its forms.

 

Auxiliary Verbs/Adjectives

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Auxiliary Verbs – Table of Contents

  • Negation [ず、(ざる)] [#]
  • Temporals “Reflective/Past” [き・し、(けり)] [#]
  • Temporals “Perfective/Continuation” [ぬ、つ、り、(たり)] [#]
  • Passive/Causative/Honorifics [(ら)る、(さ)す、しむ] [#]
  • Volitional/Speculative [む、じ、まし、(むず、けむ、らむ)] [#]
  • Volitional Suggestive Assumptives [べし、まじ] [#]
  • Qualifications [らし、なり、めり、ごとし] [#]
  • Desiratives [まほし、たし] [#]
  • Explanatory Use of the Copula [(なり)] [#]
  • Nara Foundations [(ら)ゆ、す、ふ] [#]

First a reference table. Auxiliary Verbs in parentheses are not listed here, but in each individual section. If there is a * next to the attaching form, then there are special notes concerning it, where are again found in each individual section.

接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
未然  ず*
な*
ず/で
に*
連用  (せ・け) しか
連用  ぬる ぬれ
連用  つる つれ
連用*
未然  (ら)れ (ら)れ (ら)る (ら)るる (ら)るれ (ら)れよ
未然  (さ)せ (さ)せ (さ)す (さ)する (さ)すれ (さ)せよ
未然  しめ しめ しむ しむる しむれ しめよ
未然  む/ん む/ん
未然 
未然  ませ
ましか
まし まし ましか
終止* べく
べから
べく
べかり
べし べき
べかる
べけれ
終止* まじく
まじから
まじく
まじかり
まじ
まい
まじき
まじい
まじけれ
まいけれ
終止* らし らし(き)* らし
終止  なり なり なる なれ
終止* めり めり める めれ
連体  ごとく ごとし ごとき
未然 
まほしから
まほしく
まほしかり
まほし
まほしき
まほしかる
まほしけれ

連用  たく
たから
たく
たかり
たし たき たけれ

 

Negation [ず、(ざる)]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
未然  ず/で
未然  ざら ざり ざる ざれ ざれ

Listed above are the negative auxiliary verb ず and its あり form ざり (ず+あり). ず is in fact a bit special, and its 連用形 shares a few of its conjugation properties with adjectives (it may use して as well as て, as well as the hypothetical は). ず itself is a sound change of the older version ぬ(四段)’s 連用形 に plus す (終止形) which is abbreviated as ず. The auxiliary verb じ is another form thought to come from ず・にす/にし, and paired with と is equivalent to ~ずに. It is used in the word しかじ(==如かず) which eventually became the modern しかし.

The あり form is most often used for its 未然形 and its 連用形, where the original ず/ぬ forms are limited:

な (未然形) is used only for the nominalizer く (なく)**
ず (連用形) is used on its own and for て, して, hypothetical は, and in ずに***
に (連用形) is used on its own and for て (usu. 知らに, 飽かに, いへばえに)
で (連用形) is simply an abbreviation of に+て

*ずば is just a sound change from ずは, though it is used similarly to ば as a hypothetical “if”. While ざらば and ずば may be used almost interchangeably, there is a small nuance. (You may also argue the particle ば derives from this kind of は.) In short, the ず here acts as く does with adjectives.

*ずに is relatively rare, and is more of a modern thing. What exactly the に is is disputed, but I would assume it is like the に of 形動詞, in other words なり’s 連用形. This is similar to ないで whose で is disputed, but most likely comes from だ’s で (in otherwords the ない is a nominalization). In short, the ず here acts as く does in the nominalization なくに.

*なく is a noun formed from な (未然形) and the nominalizer く. It is often seen as in the construction なくに. Depending on context, the に may be the conjunctive particle に (more like なのに…) or なり’s に (more like だなぁ). The exact origins of this に are also somewhat disputed. It is both similar and dissimilar to the modern ないで (but without the implied ください form), which likely derived from なくに.

**Just so we don’t leave anything out (though I’m sure you’ll never encounter it) there is a なな form, used in a certain eastern dialect in ancient Japan that also uses the 未然形 な whose meaning is similar to ずて/ずに). It is for this reason that it is often best to try to look up something when it looks weird before you confuse yourself too much – jump on the shoulders of experts’ research. Also, the most often used constructions are the ones that are most prone to irregularities.

***There are a few examples of ず being used with き but it is very uncommon. ex. (纏(ま)かずけば)

 

Temporals “Reflective/Past” [き・し、(けり)、(けらし)]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
連用  (し・せ・け) しか
連用  (けら) けり ける けれ
連用 けらし けらし(き) けらし

Both き and けり recollective past auxiliary verbs and けり can be thought of as the あり form of き. They both attach to the 連用形 of conjugatable words, barring a few exceptions that will be covered below. The modern phrase けりをつける comes from the auxiliary verb けり, and “せし” is not terribly uncommon, even in modern Japanese, depending on tone.

き and けり are probably derived from 如(し)く. 如く split into several forms, including the し used to make adjectives adjectives (赤→赤し), and various other し、き、け、げ、か、く(nominalizer) forms… たぬき is said to form from a verb 垂(た)ぬ and き.

けり is relatively understandable: しく+あり developed into しかり(然り) but also けり (然り) which originally had the same meaning – けり (shorter) ended up being used as an auxiliary to mean likeness, certainty and poetic exclamation. Eventually it also came to mean what experts call “recollective past” as in “that certainly did happen”. There are other opinions that suggest けり is derived seperately, and comes from 来有り(きあり), though as けり originally had less to do with the recollective past and more to do with likeness/certainty, I ascribe to the former interpretation. There is in fact a verb 来(け)り that comes from く+あり, but its meaning is different (equivalent to modern きたる).

き is a little more complex, and whether けり or き came first is probably up in the air. し itself was used as a short auxiliary version of しく and attached in the same way as it does now, again to mean a likeness or association. しか, a nominalization of 如く developed shortened forms: か、き、け which covers both 終止形 (き) and the oldest form of 未然形 (け) (ex. 根白の白ただむき纏(ま)かずけばこそ). The 未然形 し is rare and only used for adding the nominalizer く, which again makes しく and thus may arguably just be しく. (The けく form is used as well, similarly to its use with adjectives, though しく is more commonly used for nominalization).

The final mystery is the せ conjugation of き. It is believed that the 未然形-せ form may have derived from 為. It is only used for せば and arguably has nothing to do with any of き’s other meanings (not having anything to do with the past or with recollection), therefore it may be completely independent (a 連用形 nominalization+する in the case of ば) and was just tied in later. き’s せば and まし’s ませば are very likely linked, as well as the し forms of き and まし over all. (Currently under investigation – there are several conflicting ideas about this.)

Conjugations for 為 and 来 (avoid しし/きき)

為:しき、せし、せしか
来:こし、こしか、きし(きし方 only)、きしか (掛詞 for 着しか only)

未然形-せ is not used with 来/為.

There are several distinctions between き and けり. One is that the あり aspect of けり implies a continuation, as in “it happened but is still in its complete state”. However, by the Heian period (notably by the completion of the 竹取物語), this distinction was less important than the “recollective” aspect. き was used when someone personally experienced events, and けり was used when one experienced them only through hearsay. (Compare this distinction to たい vs たがる.) にけり can be used to stress the “completion” factor over the personal vs. hearsay comparison, with an added “unvolitional” element that may result in a ~てしまった meaning. にけり will be covered in more detail in another section.

The “recollective element” of き and けり makes sense given its origins, and this is why some argue that Japanese has no simple “past” form.

けらし is an adjective form of けり, and behaves like らし, but in regard to recollective past. It is perhaps simpler to think of it as けり+らし, as らし can be thought of a contraction of あらし, an adjective form of ある.

 

Temporals “Perfective/Continuation” [ぬ、つ、り、(たり)]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
連用  ぬる ぬれ
連用  つる つれ
連用*
連用  たら たり たり たる たれ たれ

*り Appears like it comes after the 命令形, and only attaches to サ変 and 四段 verbs

Above you see the perfective tense (which also serve as progressives) auxiliary verbs ぬ and つ, along with あり contractions り and たり(つ’s 連用形 て+あり). All of these attach to the 連用形. However, while ぬ can be attached to all conjugatable words, つ can only attach to verbs and pure adjectives, たり can only attach to verbs, and り can only attach to 四段 and サ変 verbs, which furthermore is contracted such that it appears to connect to their 命令形. While this can be confusing, at least ぬ and つ are regular 下二段 verbs, and り and たり are regular ラ変 verbs.

is in short, the “natural perfective”, and the “volitional perfective”. Both are used to signify completion, and imply a sense of certainty. This certainty principle when used in conjunction with む is similar to the difference in “it will be done” rather than “I will do it”. As a general rule ぬ is used with intransitive verbs, and つ with transitive verbs, though there is some overlap for verbs such as あり and なり. ぬ is always used for passive auxiliary verbs, and つ always for causative auxiliary verbs and す. Both ぬ and つ can be used like modern たり, ~ぬ~ぬ and ~つ~つ which describes a state of something doing multiple actions at the same time, sometimes indecisively. This usage first appears in the medieval period.

This natural/volitional nuance between ぬ and つ extends to the particles に and と, and how they are used with なり, あり and す. The difference between にする and とする still exists in modern Japanese, but which is used is more defined by set structures.

たり and are resultative/continuative/perfectives. In short, they describe verbs in a state. The resultative function is identical to modern ~てある which is where たり came from in the first place. However both also cover a continuative function identical to modern ~ている. The difference is nuanced in modern Japanese, but not here, it just depends on context. たり and り also can be used as perfectives, たり in this sense most often used with ば for “when this happened” and, “if this happened”. Due to the fact that たり is more usable than り which has restrictions, たり quickly became used more often than り. Like ~ぬ~ぬ and ~つ~つ, ~たり~たり was also used, and that pattern survives modern Japanese.

Modern auxiliary verbs/constructs た (past tense)、たら (perfective “if”, simply the 已然形 of modern た)、たり (simultaneous action)、ている (progressive state)、てある (resultative state) all come from たり (itself て+あり), and て comes from つ. However, don’t confuse the usages of these modern forms with the classical ones. For example たら requires the particle ば in classical Japanese, and there are several other polite verbs such as をる, ます or まいらす used in addition to the ゐる (いる) used in the modern progressive state.

 

Passive/Causative/Honorifics [(ら)る、(さ)す、しむ]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
未然  (ら)れ (ら)れ (ら)る (ら)るる (ら)るれ (ら)れよ
未然  (さ)せ (さ)せ (さ)す (さ)する (さ)すれ (さ)せよ
未然  しめ しめ しむ しむる しむれ しめよ

Above you see the passive auxiliary (ら)る, the causative auxiliary (さ)す, and honorific causative しむ all of which are regular 下二段 verbs and attach to the 未然形.

For the most part, these verbs are exact replicas of their modern counterparts: (ら)れる, (さ)せる, and しめる (rare, if you haven’t heard of it I’m not surprised), like られる, らる can be used as an honorific, but さす can be honorific as well if paired with another honorific verb. しむ is more stiff and formal than さす.

As a reminder, (ら)る (like ゆ) can be used to denote spontaneity and potentiality, in addition to its passive usage – just as the modern version does.

Another thing to note is that there are situations where (さ)す was substituted in place of (ら)る’s passive form mainly because those in power/samurai did not want the passive verb to be an indicator of weakness. Its usage is exactly the same.

While あり得 is a common potential form あり, あらる is another. できる existed as 出来 (でく) but it was not necessarily used for potentiality.

 

Volitional/Speculative [む、じ、まし、(むず、けむ、らむ)]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
未然 む/ん む/ん
未然
未然 ませ
ましか
まし まし ましか
未然

むず/ん むずる/んずる むずれ/んずれ
連用 けむ/けん けむ/けん けめ
終止* らむ/らん らむ/らん らめ

*らむ like らし attaches to the 終止形 for all verbs except ラ変, where it in name attaches to the 連体形 with the る dropped. It also attaches to the 連体形 of adjectives/verbal-adjectives.
**While むとせば is common, the contracted form むぜば is not, so むず does not have a properly listed 未然形.
***む and its derivatives have a 未然形 「ま」 used only for く nominalization, but it is exceedingly rare.

Above you see the volitional/speculative む and its derivatives (むず, けむ, らむ), the negative volitional じ and the hopeless volitional/speculative まし. All of the volitional/speculatives attach to the 未然形, but けむ and らむ attach to the 連用形 and 終止形 respectively, being contractions of けり+む and らし+む. All of these forms are irregular but have a relatively simple usage. All of them have an identical 終止形 and 連体形, with the 連体形 and 已然形 used only for bound particles (か, こそ, etc) and the 未然形 only for ば (in the case of まし). む is often shortened to ん.

is volitional/speculative as well as suggestive, and is the precursor to う in modern Japanese (ex.やりましょう). むとす・んとす, and its contractions むず・んず usages are -identical- to modern ~うとする. You can find yourself tripping up if you think of む as -exactly- the same thing as う, because it works quite a bit differently (modern う is the weirder of the two to be honest), but the are at heart, the same. Examining what 言わんとせず, 言わん(と)ばかりに and 溢れんばかりに mean (very common in modern Japanese), while keeping in mind that む is the archaic version of う, should give you a pretty good idea of how む works, even in isolation. あらんことを、including ならんことを and たらんことを are other common usages of む, but much rarer in modern Japanese. あらんことを is often implied with certain particles (more on that later). 救世主たらんことを切に願います is famous (?) phrase used in Eden of the East.

One thing to note is that む can be used to attach to nouns, in which it has meaning similar to AのであろうB and is often used to refer to hypothetical people – people that may not actually exist. む persists in modern Japanese in phrases such as 言わんばかり.

Finally, む and its derivatives (けむ・らむ) when used with や in their 已然形 always form what is called a 反語 which means the speaker means the opposite of what they say. Think of it semi-sarcastically like, “As if I would ever do something like that.” Or, how the same thing works with “するか!?” but without as much exasperation.

けむ is mostly likely a conjugation of き and む, using one of its vestigial 未然形 forms, け, and is a past volitional/speculative. It is identical to ~たろう, ~ただろう or ~たでしょう.

らむ can be thought of as a contraction of (あ)り+む and speculates about the present, similar to らし, which it and めり mostly replace until らし resurfaced closer to modern times. It is for the most part identical to ~ているだろう or ~てあるだろう.

is a negative volitional/speculative derived from ず, and we have all used it before in the one word in modern Japanese that seems to retain it: しかし (formerly 如かじ(しかじ)). It is best to think of this verb as the negative form of む, therefore it is mostly equivalent to ~ないだろう, ~ないでしょう. Like む, it can be used with とす.

まし is a “hopeless” volitional/speculative and is mostly used in a variety of bound forms. Either 「~ませば…~まし」,「~ましかば…~まし」, or 「~未然形+ば…~まし」in which it means “If only A had happened, then B would have happened…”. When it is paired with a question word it expresses a high degree doubt in regards to volitional action of its verb, but usually it ends up being a variation of 「いかにせまし」”Whatever shall I do?”

However, eventually (post-Heian) this higher meaning was lost and it was used similarly to む.

The origins of まし are strange, but I think that the simplest way to explain it is む+き(し form/如く derivative), which makes since when you think of its most common and original form “if only this had happened”. It also carries over the oddball せ 未然形 form. Addressing that, まし’s 未然形 was originally always ませ, but by the Heian period, ましか was used more often than ませ. I attribute this to the start of the sort of merger between 未然形 and 已然形 ば, but ましか is regularly counted as まし’s 未然形.

There are other suggestions as to まし’s origins, such as some adjectivication, or relating to the verb 合す(ます), but as they all boil down to a connection with む and uncertainty, I believe the argument’s a bit moot. As the し portion of き/し and まし have the same conjugation I think the above interpretation is the most useful.

 

Volitional Suggestive Assumptives [べし、まじ (ましじ)]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
終止* べく
べから
べく
べかり
べし べき
べかる
べけれ
終止* まじく
まじから
まじく
まじかり
まじ
まい**
まじき
まじい
まじけれ
まいけれ

*Both attach to the 終止形 of verbs, except for ラ変 verbs, where they attach to the 連体形.
**まじ is a contraction, preceded by ましじ (only used in 終止形・連体形) and succeeded by a further contraction, まい (only used in 終止形)
***While the あり form of adjectives is almost never used in the 連体形, In まじ’s case, まじかるめり (あり form 連体形+めり) has been observed.

べし is a volitional suggestive assumptive, and is more or less exactly the same as its modern counterpart べき (連体形 only/nominalized in a 終止形 like fashion). べし assumes something to be true or appropriate, and may express volition on part of the speaker, certainty that something will happen, or in the second person, it may be suggestive, or a roundabout way of giving a command.

べし is said to derive from the adverb うべ (often paired with the particle し), which in turn derives from うふ(下二), the same roots from which 上 is derived. At any rate, the べ of べし and うべ probably derive from the same source (an 合ふ derivative). べし in more primordial cases did not only attach to the 終止形, but also the 連用形 (at least for 下二 in which case it really could be the 未然形).

まじ is a negative volitional suggestive assumptive, and is more or less the negative version of べし. まじ assumes something to be false or inappropriate, and may express volition on part of the speaker to -not- do something, certainty that something will -not- happen, or in the second person, it may be an admonition.

ましじ was used for the most part attached to 敢(あ)ふ, 得(う), 堪(た)ふ, 克(か)つ, or ゆ(aux), all of which are 下二段 verbs that express some level of potentiality – 克つ being the most commonly used. ありかつましじ translates roughly into 生きてはいられない (ある was originally used where いる is used now for living things). In otherwords, it was used more of a general (and potential related) assumptive, before matching up in meaning with べし as its negative form.

Being of the so-called “emotionally charged” adjective variety, ましじ tends to form phrases such as “I could never live without you” or “I could never forget about you” and -possibly- has to do with an adjectivication of まし, but ましじ’s origins are as a whole, unclear.

Now the difference between suggestive assumptives and volitional/speculatives are that assumptives signify a very high degree of certainty, which matches the fact that these verbs attach to the 終止形.

 

Qualifications [らし、なり、めり、ごとし]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
終止* らし らし(き) らし
連体*
らしから
らしく
らしかり
らし
らしき
らしかる
終止  なり なり なる なれ
終止* めり めり める めれ
連体* ごとく ごとし ごとき

*らし for most of its lifetime attaches to the 終止形, and the 連体形 for ラ変 verbs. However, for ラ変 verbs, the る is always dropped, leading to forms such as あらし、ならし、来(け)らし. There are also cases such as 煮(に)らし (連用形) that illustrate らし probably forms from an adjectivization of ある via しく, shortened in the same way that り is as an auxiliary verb. This formulation extends to adjective use, such as in the case of 寒からし.

*While らし has a 連体形 it cannot be used for nominalization, nor can it be used to attribute nouns. らし’s 連体形, like its 已然形 can only be used in relation to bound particles. Another way to look at this is to think of らし as only having a 終止形 and not usually being effected by bound particles. However, there is a 「らしき」連体形 form that is occassionally used even alongside cases where らし is left alone as a 連体形 binding. No change is more common. Modern らしい takes らし and takes away its restrictions so that it works as an ordinary adjective.

*めり attaches to the 終止形 except with ラ変 where like らし it in name attaches to the 連体形, but with the る either dropped or reduced. なんめり・なめり = なり+めり.

*なり attached to the 終止形 of everything, including ラ変 verbs, originally, but by Heian times attached to the 連体形 of ラ変 verbs as well, with varying levels of る dropping, just like めり.

*ごとし attaches to the 連体形 of verbs, with an optional が between them, but can also attach to nouns with a の between them.

らし qualifies the previous statement as being true with a high level of certainty, due to there being a level of reasoning behind it. The reason is often stated either before or after the らし statement but does not have to be. The fact that らし is to a degree an adjectivication of ある, puts a らし qualified statement as being “a step away from being certainly true”. It carries more certainty than らむ and more than the modern from of らしい, which is probably why it fell out of use in favor of らむ and めり before it was revived in a less certain form.

なり qualifies a statement with “sound” (literally/figuratively) and has three basic functions. It’s first and original meaning is essentially the same as ~ように聞こえる, ~と聞こえる, and it is assumed to have formed from 音(ね)+あり or 鳴(な)+あり. なり’s second function is essentially the same as ~だそうだ/終止形+そうだ (which probably evolved out of なり) and strictly involves hearsay, rumor and reporting of events, which is why this is commonly called the “hearsay” なり. The third function overlaps with めり and is essentially ~ようだ, inferring from some sort of information. Still usually, but not always connected with sound. If you hear birds chirping you might say, 明けてはてぬなり, “It seems night has broken and the day has begun.”

The 平家物語 is famous for its use of なり in contrast to its use of き. き was used for personal recollection and なり was used for relaying other past events. なりけり on the other hand, while still conveying hearsay, is most often the coupla + けり used in a “hearsay” like fashion (there’s a subtle difference).

When in doubt of whether a なり following a 四段 verb is the “hearsay” なり or a copula, it is -most often- the “hearsay” なり. However, while すなり is always hearsay なり, するなり is always the “explanatory” copula. An non-contracted あるなり is also -more- likely to be the copula.

めり qualifies the truth of a statement with “sight” (literally/figuratively), and is essentially the same as ~ように見える, ~と見える and is probably formed from 見+あり or 目+あり. It is not nearly as old as らし, and in its very first usage case it attached to the 連用形. But later attached in the same way as らし, even mimicing the nature of how らし attached to ラ変 verbs, resulting in words such as なめり・あめり, rather than あるめり. However, unlike らし, あんめり and なんめり are also used. Also unlike らし, it has no special restrictions on its conjugations.

ごとし is used in modern Japanese as well, but not very often; it is essentially the same as ~ようだ. “~ is like ~” etc. ごとし is an adjectivication of the word こと. ごとく is used as a nominalization of ごとし. Apparently こと’s original meaning was closer to what ごとし’s meaning is now.

 

Desiratives [まほし (まくほし)、たし]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
未然 
まほしから
まほしく
まほしかり
まほし
まほしき
まほしかる
まほしけれ

連用  たく
たから
たく
たかり
たし たき たけれ

*まほし is a contraction preceded by まくほし. まくほし is む+く(nominalization)+ほし

まほし is used for declaring what you want to do before you do it (“I would like to …”), as well as describing the way you or someone else would like things to be (if describing a third person a む, is usually involved), and for when telling someone else that you would like them to do something for you. In other words it covers both modern ~たい and ~てほしい. As たし was gaining in popularity まほし was still used in more formal or artistic contexts for a while longer because apparently ~たし was considered vulgar/presumptious. I suppose grammatically まほし is a bit more roundabout “I desire for the state of this thing that may happen”.

たし is essentially the same as modern たい, but its usage is a slight bit broader, encompassing ~てほしい, but mostly in a roundabout way by using ありたし. たし cannot be used with つ or ぬ. ~たがる does not exist until modern times, so expressing what you think others desire generally convey doubt in some other way.

 

Explanatory Use of the Copula [(なり)]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
連体  なら なり
なり なる なれ なれ

When the coupla なり, is preceded by a verb in the 連体形, it works the exact same way as the “explanatory の” that we are familiar with in modern Japanese. Their grammatical functions are one and the same actually; it is just that in modern Japanese the の is necessary to denote 連体形 where it could otherwise be confused with the 終止形 after the modern Japanese 連体形・終止形 merger. The なり is not, therefore always necessary in the same way that the explanatory の doesn’t necessarily need a だ to follow it.

While if the preceding verb is a 四段 verb, which way one should interpret the なり is completely up in the air, it is far far more likely that the なり is the hearsay なり. This “explanatory” use is actually relatively uncommon. Also, while the hearsay なり is traditionally ありなり, it can be あるなり, あんなり, or あなり, where the contractions are the most common.

The best example to give for the explanatory なり versus the hearsay なり is this:

男もすなる日記といふものを、女もしてみむとてするなり
男も書くという、日記というものを、女も、してみようとするのである
“Diaries, a thing that which men are said to write, women (such as myself) as well, may attempt on whim to write.”
^In its glorious original phrase order.

The explanatory なり is of course the latter, while the hearsay one is the former.

 

Nara Foundations [(ら)ゆ、す、ふ]

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接続  未然形 連用形 終止形 連体形 已然形 命令形
未然  (ら)え (ら)え (ら)ゆ (ら)ゆる (ら)ゆれ (ら)ゆれ
未然 
未然 

These auxiliary verbs were used frequently in Nara and ancient times, but gradually faded out of use for all but a handful of verbs (mostly very important ones), which eventually became known and recorded as separate verbs altogether, which is why I’ve named this section “foundations”.

(ら)ゆ had a 下二段 conjugation and was an early passive/potential/spontaneous auxiliary verb that was replaced by (ら)る. Like (ら)る, らゆ is used for 二段 verbs and ゆ for basically everything else. It appears that らゆ was used almost exclusively for (negative) potential, and only with 寝(ぬ)・寝(い)ぬ. It is important to note that unlike (ら)る, (ら)ゆ does not have an honorific usage.

ゆ formed the foundation for these verbs (spontaneous/passive usage):

見ゆ (to be visible, to “be seen”) = modern 見える
煮ゆ (to boil, “be boiled”) = modern 煮える
消ゆ (to disappear, “be erased”) = modern 消える
燃ゆ (to burn, “be set aflame”) = modern 燃える
思ほゆ (to appear likely, “to be thought so”) = modern 思える
聞こゆ [sound-changed] (to be audible, to “be heard”) = modern 聞こえる

ゆ also formed the foundation for these attributive words:

あらゆる (あり+ゆる = everything “(all) that be”) = modern あらゆる
いはゆる (いふ+ゆる = so-called “that which is called”) = modern いわゆる

had a 四段 conjugation and was a light honorific. At a real stretch, you might call it a precursor to (さ)す but す has none of the causative meaning of (さ)す, so it’s best not to mix them up. Furthermore, half of verbs using す undergo an sound change.

す formed the foundation for these honorific verbs: 思はす/思ほす, 知ろす, 聞こす, 着す(けす), 見す(めす), 遊ばす. Of these, 遊ばす might be the only one that can be considered to have made it into modern times, where 遊ばせ is a feminine replacement for なさい. Most people that have been exposed to Japanese long enough have heard phrases like ご覧遊ばせ and ごめん遊ばせ.

had a 四段 conjugation and was used to denote repeated or continuous action.

ふ formed the foundation for these verbs (and many others):

移つろふ [sound-changed] (to shift) = modern 移ろう
語らふ (to speak often and intimately) = modern 語らう
住まふ (to live in such and such a place for a while) = modern 住まう
計らふ (to plot) = modern 計らう
向かふ (to face) = modern 向かう, (also the noun 向こう)
慣らふ (to emulate) = modern 倣う
恥じらふ (to be shy/constantly embarassied) = modern 恥じらう
ためらふ (to hesitate, to make no progress) = modern 躊躇う

 

Particles

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[↓Particle Table of Contents↓]

Introduction to Particles

Let us begin the topic of particles by example.

あづま路のはてよりも、なほ奥つかたに生ひいでたる人、いかばかりかはあやしかりけむを、いかに思ひはじめける事にか、世の中に物語といふ物のあんなるを、いかで見ばやと思ひつゝ、つれづれなる晝ま、宵ゐなどに、姉繼母などやうの人々の、その物語、かの物語、光る源氏のあるやうなど、ところどころ語るを聞くに、いとどゆかしさまされど、わが思ふまゝに、そらに、いかでかおぼえ語らなむ。

Here’s a light translation of that previous sentence. Yes, it’s a single sentence.

“For perhaps to some degree I had begun to think that those of us who live so far out in the countryside as to be beyond the end of the Azumaji road, to be to some extent strange and unlike other peoples, while thinking that I would very much like to see these wonderous things called ‘stories’ that exist throughout the world, during the day when I had nothing to do, or when I was awake at night, I would listen to what others such as my older sisters or other women about my mothers’ age would be talking about this story or that story, or what had become of Hikaru Genji, as often as I could here and there, and it only served to increase my curiosity in this respect, but anyway, as I have so inclined, to no one in particular, I will to some degree write about these things as I remember them.”

Normally you’d translate this into something along the lines of 5-10 sentences, but I have opted for this structurally literal translation just to show how particles throw all these ideas together into a single statement.

This sentence has almost every category of particle there is, except for the limited use “interjectory” category.

格助詞 “Case Particles”

あづま路[の]はて
 the end [of] the Azumaji road < の connects “the road” and “the end”

奥[つ]かた
 far out < つ connects “deep” and “direction” which is required to accept the adverb なほ, here translated seperately as “far out” and “beyond”.

~奥つかた[に]生ひいでたる
 live so far out in the…road < に connects the “so far…” where phrase with “(born and) live”.

接続助詞 “Conjunctive Particles”

思ひつゝ、
 [while] thinking … < つつ explains her “listening” actions by connecting a concurrent “while thinking…” clause

まされど、
 … to increase… ,[but] < ど is used to cut to a different topic by saying “while [everything I just said] is true”

係助詞 “Bound Particles”

いかに思ひはじめける事に[か](あらむことを)
 For [perhaps] to [some] degree I had begun to think… < か binds to an implied/invisible あらむことを (see か section for more info) as signalled by the に, to make its scope into a rhetorical question which serves to grab the question word いか and change it into a “some” form, in the exact same way as か turns 何 “what” into 何か “something”, and along with the に feeds into the next phrase as a simple connection. “For….,” to “while thinking…”

いかばかり[か][は]…けむ
 to be to [some] extent < [か] and [は] bind to けむ, changing いか into a “some” form again, but with a lot more stress to be more along the lines of “to a minimal extent” – which is of course a way to stress that she's not trying to be offensive.

副助詞 “Adverbial Particles”

あづま路のはて[より]も、なほ奥つかたに
 as to be [beyond] the end of the Azumaji road < より serves to place “the end of the Azumaji road” as a starting point, and ties with なお奥つかた (“even more deeply”) to mean “beyond”.

つれづれなる晝ま、宵ゐ[など]に
 during the day when I had nothing to do, [or] when I was awake at night, < など serves to define an “and/or” list of things out of one or more noun phrases.

いか[ばかり]かは
 to some [degree] < ばかり combines with the question word いか to mean “degree”

終助詞 “Final Particles”

見[ばや]
 …[would like to] see… < ばや makes a desirative out of 見る.

間投助詞 “Interjectory Particles”

お前さま[よ]
 Hey you. (like Shinobu from *monogatari) < よ turns this noun phrase into an interjection used to call for someone's attention.

Particles are stuffed into these categories depending on technical aspects of their usage, but these categories are not exactly divorced from one another. For instance while I will treat “Case Particle が” and “Conjunctive Particle が” as completely seperate particles, it is not as if they aren't actually one and the same. Strings of particles can be treated as new particles (ばや) and whether certain words are truly particles or not (ばかり) is arguable.

However, let us continue with clarity in mind.

Keep in mind that while some particles look and act almost exactly the same as their modern counterparts (は), many particles' meaning (see さへ), or usage (see か) have changed over time. But some modern particle usage that you might have thought as strange (髪[の]赤い人が、ここにはあるまい[に]) might make a bit more sense. Nisiosin's second favorite phrase あにはからんや may also puzzle you less.

Also, while particles are usually written in kana, many of them either have specific kanji, or a list of phonetic kanji that were commonly used with that particular particle in early texts. I will make note of -some- of them.

As a final note, early sources did not always employ particles, and might look more along the lines of: ほととぎす鳴く, 峰高し.

 

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Particles – Table of Contents

  • 格助詞 “Case Particles”
      [が、の、(つ/な)、を、に、へ、と、より/(ゆ/ゆり/よ)、から、にて、して*、ながら*]
  • 接続助詞 “Conjunctive Particles”
      [ば、と/とも、ど/ども、が、に、を、て、して、で、つつ、ながら、もの**]
  • 係助詞 “Bound Particles”
      [は、も、ぞ、なむ、や、か、こそ]
  • 副助詞 “Adverbial Particles”
      [だに、すら、さへ、のみ、ばかり、など、まで、し/しも]
  • 終助詞 “Final Particles”
      [しが(+な/も)、もが(+な/も)、な、かな/か/かも、かし、なむ、ばや、な、ね/に、こそ、な、(そ)]
  • 間投助詞 “Interjectory Particles” [よ、や、を]
  • ク語法・ミ語法・な…そ Nara Syntax/Foundations [(ら)く, み, な…そ]

格助詞 “Case Particles”

[が、の、(つ/な)、を、に、へ、と、より/(ゆ/ゆり/よ)、から、にて、して*、ながら*]

Case particles establish the grammatical case of a word or phrase they are attached to, for the context of the broader phrase their attached phrase is located within.

All case particles attach to a noun or nominalized phrase (体言・準体言) with the exceptions of と, which in one of its functions can attach to inflected phrases for quotation, and から, which may additionally attach to the particle て.

Case particles come in one of two flavors: 連体修飾語 “Adnominal/Uninflected Phrase Modifying” and 連用修飾語 “Adverbial/Inflected Phrase Modifying”. In layman’s terms, does this particle interact with an inflected word or phrase (verb/adjective/verbal adjective/implied coupla), or does it only interact with uninflected words or phrases (nouns/nominalized phrases).

Adnominal Case Particle (連体修飾語)
奥[つ]かた / 奥 (noun) interacts with かた (noun) and forms a noun phrase.

Adverbial Case Particle (連用修飾語)
奥つかた[に]生ひいでたる / 奥つかた (noun phrase) interacts with 生ひいでたる (inflected verb) to form an inflected phrase.

Well let’s get started!

Case Particle [が]

・”Genitive Case Particle (Ownership/Membership/Likeness/Limitation)”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adnominal}

が may be used as a genitive case particle, denoting ownership, membership, likeness, or limitation (“what kind of X”). This is the oldest usage of が, and from this usage it has been extended to all of its other forms.

When denoting ownership, pronouns such as われ and おのれ lose their れ, and become 我(わ)が and 己(おの)が.

Note that nominalized verbs may be used as in the examples below.

Note also that for ownership, the following phrase (implied to be もの) may be omitted in some cases.

庵は都のたつみ
 My hut (is) southeast of the capital…
なでしこ花とり持ちてうつらうつら見まくの欲しき君にもあるかも
 As I wish to take a Nadeshiko flower in my hands, I find not only it, but you as well I wish to look at closely…
高麗人の参れるなかに、かしこき相人ありけるを
 Among the Koreans who had come, there was a wise fortune teller.
兼久は悪かるべきぞ
 Are not Kanehisa’s (poems) terrible?
奈良の都は咲く花の薫ふごとく今盛りなり
 The capital at Nara is now thriving like the fragrance of blossoming flowers.

・”Subject Particle” | “Nominative Case Particle”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial*}

が may be used as a nominative case particle, denoting the subject of a phrase in respect to an inflected word, or an implied copula.

Until a certain point in the Heian period if the が particle was used to denote a subject, the phrase would always end in the 連体形, rather than the 終止形, unless the phrase connected to another with a conjunctive particle. I believe this has to do with the inherent explanatory nature of が and is related to cases of where only が or only は is valid in regards to the subject of a verb.

Note that nominalized verb phrases may be used.

There is evidence to suggest that during the period の and が were both used widely as subject particles, が was considered to be more degrading or vulgar than の. Which might have the tiniest connection to how が may be used as an insulting exclamatory particle in modern Japanese “こん畜生めが!”/”この雌豚が!”

There is a slightly specialized usage of が as a subject that is followed by a さ-nominalized adjective to form what is called a 感動文 or “emotionally exclamatory sentence”. While technically the が in this case connects to a nominal, it acts as if there is a copula following it and thus is considered to be adverbial. Its usage is the link between genitive and nominative usages of the case particle が and is the earliest usage of が as a nominative/subject particle.

In earlier periods (Heian and pre-Heian), if が was used as a subject, the phrase it was part of would never end in 終止形, but in the 連体形 unless the phrase ended in a conjunctive particle. On one hand, this technically preserves the interpretation of が being an adnominal particle, as any phrase that ends in the 連体形 can be treated as a nominal. On the other hand I think it illustrates a connection between the nature of 連体形 being explanatory and the usage of が as a subject being in its very nature explanatory (which is one way it is set apart from は and why one can not always substitute one for the other).

雀の子を、犬君、逃しつる
 The dog let the sparrow go.
見る悲しさ
 Witnessing (this) is sadness itself!
更衣とだに言はせずなりぬる、飽かず、口惜しう思さるれば
 That he could not even call her a court lady must be awful and frustrating for him, and so…

Case Particle [の]

・”Genitive Case Particle (Ownership/Membership/Location/Time/Naming/Limitation)”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adnominal}

の may be used as a genitive case particle, denoting ownership, membership, location, time, naming, and limitation (“what kind of X”), which makes its usage slightly broader than that of が. This is the oldest usage of の, and from this usage it has been extended to all of its other forms.

Note also that the following phrase may be omitted in some cases (implied to be もの), but unlike が this is not limited to ownership. This usage is the same as it is in modern Japanese.

While が attaches to 連体形 nominalizations, の does not. However, as in modern Japanese の attaches to verbs in this way as a nominalizer, or to denote 連体形, there is probably some crossover, but if so, it is rare. の will however attach to other types of nominalizations such as 連用形 nominalization.

の accepts the さ-form of adjectives (stems of く-adjectives and verbal adjectives, as well as the 終止形 of シク形容詞) without さ attached to them for an expressive statement: をかしの御髪や・あはれのことや, and may like が may precede adjectives in their さ forms.

There is a slightly special type of genitive case particle の’s usage, sometimes called 同格 “equation”, that is similar to が’s usage when it takes a long phrase in the 連体形, and also similar to subject particle usage. It takes the form [phrase-連体形][noun]の[phrase-連体形][same noun or omitted][が/は]. When omitted, the noun before the の effectively becomes the subject which is accepted by が or は. Its usage in this case is very much like modern であって.

There is an even further specialized form of the above usage, which is used to break from a lead-in in what is called 枕詞 “pillow talk”. It equates two phrases that are fundamentally different, unlike the above “equation” usage, but forces them together. Also unlike the above form, the noun phrase following the の usually ends the sentence. It takes the form [phrase-連体形][noun]の[phrase-連体形][different noun, tied to some emotion].

いかなる人御馬ぞ
 What kind of person owns this horse?
同じ月十五日…
 On the fifteenth day of the same month…
その山を富士山とは名づけける
 That mountain is named mount Fuji.
ごとくに集まりて
 They gathered like ants…
草の花はなでしこ。唐はさらなり、大和のもいとめでたし。
 The grassflower is “nadeshiko”. Chinese ones are of course, but Japanese ones are also lovely.
大船の行きまにまに宿りするかも
 We shall stay on this ship as it goes along its course.
風交じり雨降る夜雨交じり雪降る夜は…
 The night, which was one where rain fell mixed in the wind, and snow fell mixed in the rain…
網の浦の海処女らが焼く塩思ひそ燃ゆるあが下ごころ
 The salt, that is burned (made) by the young seafaring women at Aminoura, is as my heart that burns just thinking of you.

・”Subject Particle” | “Nominative Case Particle”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial*}

の may be used as a nominative case particle, denoting the subject of a 連体形 nominalized phrase in respect to a inflected verb. Unlike が, the phrase that takes the subject of a の particle must end in the 連体形. Therefore, like the early subject usage of が, the “flavor” is not strictly adverbial or adnominal. It may be technically adnominal, but it behaves as an adverbial, so it is categorized as such.

Using a の as a subject particle as opposed to using が or nothing heightens the sort of poetic quality of the sentence, in part because it uses the “explanatory” 連体形 even if (as for 四段 verbs) nothing apparently changes. 鶯の鳴く vs 鶯鳴く.

春たてば花とや見らむ白雪かかれる枝に鶯鳴く
 Spring having begun, perhaps it thought the snow for flowers, as upon those snow laden branches does the nightengale cry.
はける足駄にて作れる笛には、秋の鹿必ず寄るとぞ言い伝へ侍る
 It is said that whistles made out of sandals worn by women will always attract deer in the fall.

・”Substitute Particle”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial}

の is used as a substitution for several particles, often only in special cases.

In all of these cases の does not require the following verb to be in the 連体形, and therefore that is the easiest way to tell it is not being itself.

うち笑まれぬべき様し給へれば
 For you are acting in such a way that I must giggle. < の plays substitute for を
きのふ同じ紅なり
 The same crimson as yesterday… < の acts as と/に would when used with 同じ (an oddball anyway)
日暮るるほど、例集まりぬ
 They have gathered as the sun has set. < 例の works as if it were 例・いつものように

> だの and の final particle <<

の may be used in the same way だの is used today, as an adverbial particle.

の may also be used as a final particle.

Case Particle [つ/な]

・”Genitive Case Particle” | “Attributive Particle”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adnominal}

Case particles つ and な are pre-Heian era case particles whose function was replaced by が and の. From the Heian period onward they appear primarily in proper nouns, such as 棚機つ女 (たなばたつめ) and compound nouns, like 目毛 (まつげ), 水底 (みなそこ), 水面 (みなも), 手な心 (たなごころ).

Note that -e sounds that preceed つ and な usually become -a sounds. -a, -i, -u, -o are generally unchanged.

つ is often written with the kanji 津. (棚機津女)

Case Particle [を]

・”Accusative Case Particle” | “Oblique Case Particle (Point)”
  (Direct Object/Accusative Case)
  (Direction, Point of Passage, Departure, Duration/Oblique Case)
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)
  Flavor is {Adverbial}

For all intents and purposes the case particle usage of を has not changed much over time. を assigns the accusative case when linked to transitive verbs, assigns an oblique case (a point of either departure, passage, duration, or direction) to intransitive verbs that have something to do with motion or time.

“Accusative” and “Oblique” are linquistic terms made for mostly Western languages where they apply more adequately. It is better to think of this case as a を-case, that focuses on a primary “point” of action (accusative) or a “point” along the way from a the perspective of a journey or goal, which may also be a direction (objective). Keep this in mind as we work to distinguish the non-subject-non-genitive case particles を, に, and と.

There are some what special cases of を that deserve attention:

「…を…に(て)」

This is roughly equivalent to …を…として, or …を…のように, and means “to treat A as B”.

This is again treated as an oblique case, and is the same case that 以て uses in 「…を以て」

「A(連用形)をA」
 (where A is a verb)
「A’をA」
 (where A’ is a noun that is redundant for the verb A)

This is roughly equivalent to A(連体形)ことをするばかり and is used to emphasize a drawn out or repeated action. It is most commonly used in 寝(い)を寝(い)ぬ – “I slept all day”. However, this structure can be used with nouns, in some cases such as 音(ね)を泣く “I cried my heart out”.

Again, this is an oblique case, that has to with purpose or direction. There is a very similar structure that uses に. This を usage is less common. If one were to make a distinction, に is piling actions on each other, and を is wading through multiple actions.

翁、竹取ること久しくなりぬ
The old man had been cutting bamboo for a long time. (Accusative)
京の方見給ふ
He looked towards the capital. (Accusative/Oblique)
黒崎の松原経てゆく
I pass through the pine fields of Kurosaki (Oblique)
寂しさに宿立ちいで…
And in my sadness I left the inn… (Oblique)
長き夜独りや寝む
Must I spend this long night alone? (Oblique)
かたじけなき御心ばへのたぐひなき頼みにてまじらひ給ふ (Oblique)
And she served him, hoping that his unparallelled kindness for her would be for her alone.
昼は日一日寝のみ寝くらし
For the day, all day long he would only sleep the day away.

Case Particle [に]

・”Dative/Locative/Instrumental/Oblique Case Particle (Weak)” | “Natural-Weak Case Particle”
  (Location, Time, Destination, Result, Objective, Source of Passive, Receiver of Causative, Source, Reason, Basis of Comparison, Subject of Honorific Phrase, Unit in Series, Unit in Addition”)
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial}

に probably has the longest single entry of any Japanese dictionary you lay your hands on, because depending on the verb, it can be used for all sorts of things. に is a “weak” case particle compared to と in terms of volition and force, as can be illustrated by the difference between the phrases にする and とする, になる and となる, as well as にある and とある. に is derived from the auxiliary verb ぬ.

“Dative”, “Locative” and “Oblique” are linquistic terms made for mostly Western languages where they apply more adequately. It is better to think of this case as a に-case, that focuses on a “natural” or “less forceful” secondary functional aspect of a verb. Keep this in mind as we work to distinguish the non-subject-non-genitive case particles を, に, and と.

For verbs having to deal with motion, while を may designate a point at the beginning or along the way, に always designates the ultimate destination or ultimate direction. に may also designate location for intransitive verbs. For transitive verbs, primarily にて (case particle に + conjunctive particle て) is used instead. Note that this location may also be a state, rather than a particular place.

For all causative and passive forms of verbs, as well as many other verbs that sensibly involve multiple persons, に can be used as a dative case particle, denoting “to whom”, “for whom”, “by whom”. For causative verbs をs accusative case particle usage may overlap に’s usage. Note that for both honorific causative and honorific passive verbs, this dative use in the end causes に to act as a subject particle.

When に is used with あり, while it may designate locative case, it may also function as a copula, especially when used in the negative sense as “に(も)あらず”. This is a reflection of に’s “natural” usage. Strictly speaking, the modern である is derived from にてある, which is derived from this にある. The same can be said of ではない or でもない.

に may designate purpose. When に follows a verb nominalized to its 連用形, に may mean “for the purpose of doing A”.

に may designate a means, or in other words instrumental case. Much of this usage is replaced by にて.

に may designate a reason, or in other words ablative case. Much of this usage is found with による.

When に follows a verb nominalized to its 連用形, and is then followed again by the same verb, it emphasizes the verb, and implies that the verb is done for a drawn out period of time, or otherwise over and over again.

に also has a stacking function where anything after is “in addition” to what comes before the に, this function can at times act adnominally.

に has many helper verbs that can be used with it to remove ambiguity. In modern Japanese and late classical Japanese において and によって are often used for this purpose.

この人、国かならずしも言ひ使ふものもあらざなり
This person is not one who would necessarily hire servants in this country I hear.
(The first is used for location and the second is used for coupla formation)

This particle is the “natural/slightly more passive” counterpart of と and forms a part of verb なり (に+あり).

Case Particle [へ]

・”Direction”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial}

へ, as a particle, derives from the word 辺(へ), which like the word that uses the same kanji, あたり, describes “the surrounding location” of something, just as 海辺 means “by the sea”. へ was first used as a particle in the Heian period, with a narrower definition that was used to describe a direction or place when in transit, as opposed to using に after arriving at a destination. へ was used more broadly post-Heian, where its usage overlapped with に in some cases, identical to へ in modern Japanese.

An example of the difference between the narrow and broader uses of へ as a “direction” particle is that you would not use へ to describe who you are sending a letter to (ex. Bさんへ) in the Heian period, but it was used in that way in post-Heian times.

Case Particle [と]

・”Oblique Case Particle (Strong)” | “Volitional-Strong Case Particle”
  (“With”, Basis of Comparison, Result, Metaphorical Connection: “as”, Unit in a Series: “and”, Emphasis)
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial}

The “strong” case particle と is like に (the “weak” case particle) in that it can be used in many ways, and that usage depends on what verb or phrase it is connected with. It differs from に in that its usage commands a higher degree of emphasis, and is usually associated with more volition, though this is not always clear cut.

と can be taken to mean “and” when taken as a unit in a series, or “with” alone when it is connected to almost any verb, this hasn’t changed in modern Japanese. The “metaphorical connection” is an explanation for how the constructs と見ゆ, と聞こゆ, とする and とある work, and is similar in meaning to ~のように or “like” or “as”.

Like に, と can be used to denote a basis of comparison, as in modern Japanese (~と比べて)

と can be used in a sort of doubling phrase for emphasis, like に, where it is [A(連用形)+と+A]. Rather than denoting a repetition, this is simply used for emphasis. This is most commonly seen as ありとある and ありとあらゆる.

来し敏馬の崎を…
The peninsula of Minume, to which I had come before with my beloved…

何事ぞや。童べ腹立ち給へるか
What is it? Did you get upset at a child?

少しかこつかたも、我とひとしからざらん人は
Those that make excuses, even in the slightest degree, how could you suggest they be the same as me?

白髪の人なりし例(ためし)なきにあらず
It is not unprecedented for a person’s hair to be whiten (lit. to become a person with white hair) < [Result]

笛の音のただ秋風聞こゆるに
But the sound of the flute only sounds as if it were an autumn wind…

わが家にありある人召し集めてのたまはく
(She had) stated that thee call upon all those in (her) house.

・”Quotation”
  Attaches to //文 (Sentences/Complete Phrases)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial}

This function of case particle と is to mark off a phrase to link it to a verb like 言ふ. It can be either a direct quotation or indirect quotation (ie. the words quoted can be exact or just convey the same meaning). Unlike many partcles that require a certain ending to attach to, this form of と can attach to just about anything.

There is a となる which is considered “quotation” and a となる which is considered as a “result”. Both are pretty much the same thing, but this one does not have to attach to a noun.

「いかなる所ぞ」問へば
When asked, In what place?

勝たんうつべからず、負けじうつべきなり
One should not strike (with the determination) to win, but strike (with the determination) to not lose.

この床のひし鳴るまで嘆きつるかも
He lamented so much that the floor creaked (with a “hishi” sound)

常世辺にまた帰り来て今のごと逢はむならば
After having returned near to the lands of eternal life, if you wish to meet (again) as you do now

This particle is the “volitional/slightly stronger” counterpart of に and is the basis for the verb たり (と+あり)

Case Particle [より (ゆ/ゆり/よ)]

*ゆ, ゆり, and よ are older forms of より.

・”Origin/Source Case”
  (Point of Origin, Point of Passage, Standard of Comparision, Means, Reason, Limitation (can also act as a [Nominal/Uninflected]), Instantaneous Point of Time)
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//
  Flavor is {Adverbial}

The function of case particle より is basically to set a starting point to something (this pretty much covers all of the above). Most of this usage can be covered by the words “from”, “via”, “by” and “than” (for comparison).

より sometimes combines with other words such as ほか, のち and うち.

より can be used as a “from/due to the fact that” often seen in modern Japanese in the phrase, “~ことより”

より is sometimes used in the same way as ~やいなや is used, for “as soon as”.

大津より浦戸をさして漕ぎ出づ
(We) row from Ōzu to Urado

よりもえ入らで童べの踏みあけたる築地(ついひぢ)のくづれより通ひけり
Unable to enter from the gate, instead he made his visits viaa footpath made by children that led to an opening in the gate.

他夫の馬より行くに己夫し歩(かち)より行けば。
Other women’s husbands went by horse, my husband went by foot, so…
^This “by” usage is generally restricted to older texts, before using にて became the norm.

その人かたちよりは心なむまさりたりける
(The greatness of) that person’s heart surpassed their looks. < “was greater than their looks”

ひぐらしの鳴く山里の夕暮れは風よりほかにとふ人もなし
In the mountain village in the evening where the cicadas cry, other than the wind, there is no one who visits.

名を聞くより、やがて面影は推しはからるる心地するを
Upon hearing their name, I feel as if I can picture their face…

=================================================================================================================

Case Particle [から]

・”Origin/Reason Case” [Adverbial/Inflected]
  (Point of Origin, Point of Passage, Means, Reason)
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//

The function of case particle から is basically the same as より, but more limited. Other than a few things, it’s almost identical to its usage in modern Japanese, meaning “from”. Ex: 山から流るる川 “A river that runs from the mountains.”

Case Particle [にて]

・”Environmental/Circumstancial Case” [Adverbial/Inflected]
  (Place, Means, Reason, Time”
  Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)//

The function of case particle にて is basically the same as modern particle で (which is derived from にて). It is basically a particle to establish the environment of a verb. While に is often used to denote place in verbs that deal with places (such as motion verbs) にて is used for “place” in a sense that isn’t directly related to the action of the verb. One way to think of it is that while に is already a secondary or “weak” link to a verb, the て further distances it from the verb (a tertiary link if you will). Ex: 陽の下で眠る猫 “A cat sleeping under the sun.”

Case Particle [して] *Minor*

・”As (a group)” [Adverbial/Inflected]
 Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)// of certain words.

This case particle is an abbreviation of をして and its etymology is similar to にて. In modern Japanese its usage is swallowed up by で. The best way to describe this particle’s use is by example. 皆して、二人して、一人して in classical Japanese is equivalent to 皆で、二人で、一人で.

Case Particle [ながら] *Minor*

・”As before”
 Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)// of certain temporal words.

This case particle is limited to constructions such as “昔ながら” and is almost identical to “~のそのままで”

・”As (a group)”
 Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns/Nominals)// of certain words.

This particle is nearly the same as case particle して. Ex: “三人ながら”

接続助詞 “Conjunctive Particles” [ば、と/とも、ど/ども、が、に、を、て、して、で、つつ、ながら]

Where case particles link words (or nominal phrases) to other nominal phrases or a verb within a verb phrase, conjunctive particles link verb/inflected phrases to other verb/inflected phrases. The name gives it away, but basically, conjunctions.

Conjunctive particles can come in a few of several flavors that mix and match.

Resultative means “because of A, B happened”
Contradictory means “despite A, B happened”
Neutral means “A happened and B happened, without necessarily any connection between A or B”
Contextual means “When A happened, B happened”
Transitional means “A happened, and then B happened (sequentially)”
Parallel means “While A happens, B happens”
Hypothetical means “A might or might not happen”
Definite means “A has happened or will happen”

Conjunctive Particle [ば]

・”If” [Resultative, Hypothetical]
  Attaches to //未然形// (IMPORTANT)

This function of conjunctive particle ば is synonymous with “if”. Modern Japanese uses ば to mean “if” however, it is important to note that unlike in modern Japanese, this ば attaches only to the 未然形. ならば is なり with the “if” ば attached to it. A good way to remember this is that 未然形 means “hasn’t happened yet”.

・”When” [Resultative/Neutral, Contextual, Definite]
  Attaches to //已然形// (IMPORTANT)

This function of conjunctive particle ば is synonymous with “when”. Modern Japanese uses ば to mean “when” attached to what it calls 仮定形 which is really the 已然形. You just have to remember that this does not mean “if”. This particle is used primarily to imply causation (Resultative) but also may be used for simple context (Neutral). The general rule is that it implies causation unless it wouldn’t ordinarily make sense to. The “neutral” usage is most often found when attachecked to sensory/perception verbs like 見る and 聞く.

Conjunctive Particle [と・とも]

・”Even If” [Contradictory, Hypothetical]
  Attaches to //Verbs:終止形, Adjectives:連用形, 「ず」:連用形//

The function of conjunctive particle とも (which may appear without the も as simply と), is to present a hypothetical case, and say that the predicate happens despite this hypothetical case. It comes after the 終止形 because it supposes a full and complete “final” case. It is not 未然形 or 已然形 because while often indefinite, the “hypothetical” case may be true, and then とも is used for emphasis. Ex: わが身は女なりとも敵の手にはかかるまじ “Though it may be the case that I am a woman, I will not fall into the hands of the enemy.”

When と/とも attaches to ず’s 連用形 it does -not- attach to ざり or に forms.

This function is taken over by ても in modern Japanese.

Conjunctive Particle [ど・ども]

・”Even Though” [Contradictory, Definite]
  Attaches to //已然形//

The function of conjunctive particle ども (which may appear without the も as simply ど), is to present a definite case, and say that the predicate happens despite this definite case. Because we’re asserting that this case is true/has happened, this particle comes after the 已然形. Ex: 男、血の涙を流せども、とどむるよしなし。 “Though the man shed tears of blood, there was no means to keep (her) in this world.” Modern Japanese’s けど and けれど and けれども come out of the connection of ども with an adjective. Ex: 暗けれど色は確かに見ゆ。

This function is taken over by けれども, けれど, and けど in modern Japanese.

Conjunctive Particle [が]

・”But” [Contradictory, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

The function of conjunctive particle が is the same as its usage in modern Japanese, except for the fact that in modern Japanese conjunctive particle が attaches to the 終止形 (ie. そうだが). This conjunctive usage is extended from が’s case particle usage: 連体形 forms a 準体言, what the case particle attaches to, so there’s some overlap. If you want to think of this particle in terms of the case particle, 連体形 in front of が makes the phrase a “subject” to be compared to the predicate. But still be sure to distinguish between both depending on context. Also remember conjunctive particle が does not take nouns. They would have to be wrapped with なり/あり – it’s common to see “ありしが” because since this is a definite conjunction, and the “past” is definite.

・”And” [Neutral, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

As with modern Japanese, conjunctive particle が doesn’t necessary mean “but”, or imply anything between the two phrases. Sometimes it’s just a simple connection. Depends on context.

Conjunctive Particle [に]

・”Despite” [Contradictory, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

This function of conjunctive particle に is identical to modern Japanese のに (それなのに). If you break apart “のに” the の is simply modern Japanese’s version of 連体形 for verbs, so it really is the same.

・”When/And/As” [Neutral, Contextual, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

This function of conjunctive particle に is used in modern Japanese (without the preceding の), just rarely (“見るに”). It is very similar to the conjunctive particle ば that attaches to the 已然形, but unlike ば it’s contextual usage cannot be used to imply causation. Because of this, this usage is generally limited to words like 見る and 聞く.

・”Because” (Reason) [Resultative, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

This function of conjunctive particle に is similar to the construction of “ために” (そのために) in modern Japanese. This function is again similar to ば, but the nuance is that the preceding phrase must provide a reason for the succeeding phrase, rather than simply context.

・”Furthermore/On Top of That” [Neutral]

This function of conjunctive particle に is similar to the conjunctive construction “それに” in modern Japanese. It’s used to list a variety of things that strengthen a certain theme. Ex: 霧も深く露けきに、簾をさへ上げる給へれば御袖も、いたく濡れにけり。 “The mist was thick and the ground was damp with dew, and furthermore when he raised the blinds, his sleeve was very wet.” (From the Tale of Genji)

Like が, に conjunctive functions are derived from its functions as a case particle. “(Failed) objective/target” applies to the first, “time” and “place” apply to the second, “reason” applies to the third, and “addition” applies to the fourth. This is why conjunctive particle に is nearly as varied as its cousin.

Conjunctive Particle [を]

・”Despite” [Contradictory, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

This function of conjunctive particle を is similar to のに (それなのに) in modern Japanese, and is very similar to conjunctive particle に, but it’s emphasis on causation is weaker than its emphasis on the preceding phrase itself.

・”Because” [Resultative, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

This function of conjunctive particle を is similar to ので (そうなので) in modern Japanese, and is also similar to conjunctive particle に’s “Because” usage, but without any constraints on it being a “reason”, and its emphasis on causation is weaker than its emphasis on the preceding phrase itself.

The conjunctive particle を didn’t last very long, because – obviously – it’s confusing. It can mean either despite or because and it is not used for neutral cases. The reason for this confusion is that the main purpose of conjunctive particle を is to add a whole lot of emphasis to the previous phrase and say that it has a connection to the predicate. This is mostly due to the fact that conjuntive particle を is derived from を’s usage as an “exclamatory” final particle, and also due to を as a case particle denoting one of the most important parameters to a verb – that emphasis carries over.

Conjunctive Particle [て] (して,ずて=で)

・Linker [*]
  Attaches to //連用形+//

The conjunctive particle て can be used for very many things, but at heart, it’s just a simple conjunction linking two phrases together. It can be Resultative, Contradictive, or Neutral. It is most often Transitional, but it may also denote Parallel action, or be used to establish context. Although it is usually Definite, when combined with は in “ては” it can be used to form a conditional (Hypothetical) phrase. “ては” also used to denote repetition “whenever A happens, B happens” usually denoting a back and forth time action like the moon waxing and waning. “ずて” abbreviated as “で” and equivalent to “ないで” in modern Japanese. て is also used to compound verbs together, especially with ラ変 verbs that act similar to auxilliary verbs. “して” comes from the verb す and て and is used as a particle, similar to て, but only attaches to the 連用形 of verbs, adjectives and the auxiliary verb ず. “て” also attaches directly to a number of adverbs (かく、など、さ), and attaches to the case particle に to form case particle にて. “して” doubles as a case particle meaning “with” that overlaps with the functions of modern で. It is technically an abbreviation of をして. (Ex: 皆して手伝ふ, 二人して). Other conjuctive て particle combinations include てから and からして.

て itself is derived from the 連用形 of the auxiliary verb つ, and became a particle as its usage expanded (and it attached to many more things). An extremely large number of grammatical functions in both classical and modern Japanese are derived from つ and て, but I’ll go ahead and stop here.

Conjunctive Particle [つつ]

・Repetitive or Continuous Action [Contextual, Parallel, Definite]
  Attaches to //Verbs:連用形//

The conjunctive particle つつ denotes an action happening repeatedly over and over again, back and forth, in the background of the succeeding phrase. It is often used to portray parallel action, but the preceding phrase may denote something that has been going on for a long period of time, and the succeeding phrase may denote a shorter action, making it more a matter of context than parallel action, but fundamentally the usage is one and the same.

つつ was most likely derived from the construction ~つ~つ.

Conjunctive Particle [ながら]

・Parallel Action [Parallel, Definite]
  Attaches to //Verbs:連用形, Adjectives:語幹(root)・連体形//

This function of the conjunctive particle ながら is identical to its use in modern Japanese, and is similar to つつ. As usage of つつ faded out, ながら replaced it. As a general rule, the preceding phrase is of less importance to the rest of the sentence than the succeeding phrase.

・”While Although” [Contradictive, Parallel, Definite]
  Attaches to //Verbs:連用形, Adjectives:語幹(root)・連体形//

This function of the conjunctive particle ながら is identical to its use in modern Japanese. It is similar to the “but” function of が.

Conjuctive Particle Auxiliary [もの]

This one requires an introduction. もの is a noun. However, its use as a noun is utilized (abused) so as to make conjunctive particles out of case particles and final particles, and the sort of pseudo-particle/word (adverb/noun) ゆえ.

ものを、ものから、ものの、ものゆえ

・”Although” [Contradictory, Definite]
  Attaches to //連体形//

ものを is taken directly from final particle を (which requires a nominal, so もの is used to nominalize it). This later evolved into the conjunctive particle を, but in earlier times ものを was used only for “Contradictory” not “Resultative” conjunctions. However, after a certain point ものを too was used for both. As a side note, using を with もの as a final particle is where we get ですもの and ですもん in modern Japanese.

ものから is taken directly from case particle から, taken to mean “though starting from this point, the result is unexpected” – which translates into “although”. As time passed, however, it was mistaken for a simple transition (I don’t blame them) taken to mean, “from this point, this happened”, without the “Contradictory” nuance.

ものの is still used in modern Japanese, and I assume it is derived from case particle の’s subject use, taken to mean “though this is the case, something unexpected happened” – which translates into “although”.

ものゆえ is used to link ゆえ (which means circumstances, reason) to a verb, which is taken to mean “though these were the circumstances that were in place before, this something that was unexpected happened” – which translates into “although”. This can be confusing because 故に means “because” – or more literally “due to these circumstances”.

係助詞 “Bound Particles” [は、も、ぞ/そ、なむ/なん、や、か、こそ]

Bound particles are similar to case particles, which connect a nominal to a verb, but instead modifies a nominals “position” in regards to the rest of the sentence, possibly spanning multiple verb phrases. Bound particles are called “bound particles” because they “bind” to the final verb in their scope and change its fundamental case (meaning one of 未然形、連用形、終止形、連体形、已然形、命令形). Bound particles can appear within a sentence or at the end of a sentence, the latter often denoting an “implied predicate”. The behavior of bound particles are often different depending on whether they are within a sentence or after a sentence, and it is important to note the difference. In some particles, like は, the “binding” doesn’t make a difference (because its binding is 終止形), and in others “binding” gradually fell out of use closer to the modern era.

Bound Particle [は]

・Case Distinction/Emphasis (Topic)
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), 格助詞 (に、と、を、にて、して), 接続助詞 (て、して), 係助詞 (や, か)//
   Binds: 終止形 (not-strict)

*は officially binds to the 終止形 but this is not “strict” (ie. if there is any other bound particle in the sentence that would change the ending to something else, that is used instead). This also applies if the verb is put into 連体形 in order to make the sentence “declarative”.

は versus が (Attaching to Nominals):

When は is attached directly to a noun or nominal its function is very similar to が, and because は cannot attach to が, it can be said to be “replacing” が, and there are many cases where は and が are interchangable. It basically lifts the preceding phrase X to mean “in cases involving X”, “as for X”, “in regards to X” (in otherwords making a distinction between X and other related phrases one might assume) – but X doesn’t necessarily have to be the subject of the succeeding verb. A verb phrase can have only one が used to denote subject case, but can have multiple はs (in order to contrast separate cases). が and は can be used in the same verb phrase and when this happens, the phrase before が is contrasted against the phrase before は. は is generally appended to “old or known information” and が is appended to “new or unknown information”. Unlike が, は can be attached to time words like 今.

When は attaches to case particles it basically acts to emphasize the preceding phrase. In classical Japanese, unlike modern Japanese, は does not replace を but attaches to it and often under goes a sound change, becoming をば.

When は attaches to conjunctive particles it often has a dual function of meaning “whenever/in all cases of” it does not -always- carry this role (only when て is used in a time-sensitive conjunctive manner), but it’s something to keep a look out for. Ex: 転んでは起き上がる.

は can attach to the 連用形 as long as the 連用形 is used to nominalize the verb. This is commonly used in the construction V(連用形)+は+す. Ex. 行きはせず this emphasizes the verb as a nominalized action.

・General Emphasis
  Final:
   Attaches/Binds to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), 係助詞 (や, か), Verbs:連体形//

This function is nearly identical to the modern Japanese final particle わ (notice it’s pronounced the same). It does NOT carry a feminine connotation (note that many dialects in modern Japanese also do not carry the feminine connotation).

・Hypothetical
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //Adjectives:連用形,「ず」:連用形//
   Binds: 終止形 (not-strict)

This function is similar to the conjunctive particle ば when attached to the 未然形 (you may argue that it is also similar to conjunctive particle と). It is attached the same way と・とも is attached to adjectives and ず, but it is -not- similar to とも because it does not imply “Even if” but just “if”.

Before the ざり form of ず came around (for ざらば), the only way to make a ば-like negative hypothetical was ずは or なくは. ずは was eventually sound-changed to ずば (ie. almost identical to mizenkei ば) but remember, ず has no mizenkei.

[hypothesis]This is probably actually a reverse-derived function. The most common construction is なくは, however (as you may know) in early Japanese, なく was not an adjective conjugated to 連用形 but a noun. As なく became ない and なくは continued to be valid, the construction extended to other adjectives as well. [/hypothesis]

In the Nara period, ずは was not hypothetical but more to the effect of AずはB = “do B instead of A”.

When は attaches to ず’s 連用形 it does -not- attach to ざり or に forms.

[hypothesis]All of this leads me to believe that conjunctive particle ば is really just a very early on sound changed ば, and as the “negative” functions didn’t have a lasting 未然形 (or perhaps just because なは/なば didn’t sound right), this negative function first relied on なくは (which is valid because なく was a noun) and then on ずは (perhaps as a 連用形 “nominal”[/hyothesis]

Bound Particle [も]

・Inclusion/Emphasis
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), 格助詞 (except が)、接続助詞(と、ど、て、して、で、つつ、ながら)、副助詞、係助詞 (か)//
   Binds: 終止形 (not-strict)

If は sets things apart from each other, も brings things together. This works for subjects (where も takes the place of は or が), or objects/other cases (where も comes after the corresponding 格助詞 (も can replace を or come after it)). for adjectives and verbs, も can come either after the nominalization of the verb/adjective phrase, or after the conjunctive particle て (==「つ」’s 連用形). This ~ても basically means, “even given the case of ~”; nominalization denotes more basic inclusion.

All of these usages basically mean the same thing, though when も comes after a 接続助詞 (conjunctive particle) the conbination of the usages of both particles is closest to “even/although”.

・Parallel Listing ~も~も
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), 格助詞 (except が)//
   Binds: 終止形 (not-strict)

Almost the same as the above, but the purpose is different. This basically forms a list which shares some quality. It can either be a list of subjects/objects that link to a verb which comes after, or も can appear in the same place in two parallel verb phrases. Ex: AもBもV / AもV, BもV.

・Adjective Emphasis
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //Adjectives:連用形//

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “よくもそんな!” You’ve experienced this usage. It is simply emphasis.

・Exclamatory
  Final:
   Attaches/Binds to //Verbs:終止形//

This usage is identical to the modern なぁ~, and didn’t last much longer after the Nara period.

Bound Particle [ぞ/そ]

・Strong Emphasis/Certainty [なむ<ぞ<こそ]
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), 格助詞 (を), 接続助詞 (と), 係助詞 (も)//
   Binds: 連体形
  Final:
   Attaches/Binds to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), Verbs/Adjectives:連体形//

When ぞ attaches to 体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals) and 格助詞 (を), it emphasizes that unit. When ぞ attaches to 接続助詞 (と) in emphasizes the quotation-phrase. When ぞ attaches to 格助詞 (も) it usually expresses anxiety, in the form of “this really will happen, this really might be”. 雨もぞ降る “It’s really going to rain!”, 末にて人もぞ殺す “(He) really will kill someone!”

When ぞ appears at the end of a sentence, it’s basically identical to modern だぞ!

When ぞ appears at the end of the sentence but after 「と」 it is implied that 言う, 聞く, or あり would come next, and doesn’t count as a “final” form.

When ぞ appears at the end of a sentence following a question word (often なにもの/なにごと) it emphasizes that question (replacing the や or か which would normally come after.)

そ is a Nara period version of ぞ. However, if this そ comes after the 連用形 (or the 未然形 of カ変 or サ変) it is not the same sort of particle as ぞ!! It is part of the な…そ construction, and the な is sometimes left out!

Bound Particle [なむ/なん]

・Strong Emphasis/Certainty [なむ<ぞ<こそ]
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), 接続助詞 (と,て)//
   Binds: 連体形

なむ has the same basic function as ぞ, but it is a weaker emphasis.

When なむ appears at the end of the sentence but after 「と」 it is implied that 言う, 聞く, or あり would come next, and doesn’t count as a “final” form. – Otherwise, it is a completely separate final particle, which will be covered in a later section.

Watch for context to make sure you interpret なむ correctly as either a bound particle, a final particle, or the combination of the auxiliary verbs ぬ and む.

Bound Particle [や]

・Doubt, Question, Rhetorical Question
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals)、接続助詞 (と)//
   Binds: 連体形
  Final:
   Attaches/Binds to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), Verbs/Adjectives:終止形//

The function of や is very similar to the modern か, however, it focuses more on real questions than exclamatory rhetorical questions (common to か). や is usually used alone, without any question words, but などや (何どや) and なぞや (何ぞや) which are basically equivalent to “なぜか”/”なぜ…か” were frequently in the medieval period onward.

Though the function of や is similar to modern か, its usage is different. For instance とや言ふ is equivalent to modern と言うか, and をんなやある is equivalent to modern 女はあるのか?. Basically, a way to “convert” is to replace や with は and add か to the end of the corresponding verb. Also, try not to mix bound particle や up with the modern や and とか type informal lists (even though they derive from these particles).

The final particle や works just as you’d expect (similar to modern か), however, remember that it comes after the 終止形, and not the 連体形. Eariler texts are more likely to have や in-sentence, and later texts are more likely to have it in a final position.

If は comes after や it is more likely to be a rhetorical question.

There is another formal “exclamatory particle” や, which is more broad in what it can attach to. It has an exclamatory function (obviously) and will be covered later.

Bound Particle [か]

・Doubt, Question, Rhetorical Question
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals)//
   Binds: 連体形
  Final:
   Attaches/Binds to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), Verbs/Adjectives:連体形//

The function of か is very similar to the function of や, however, it is much more likely to be an exclamatory rhetorical question and is more often used with a “question word”, such as 何, 何故, なぜ, いづれ, いくつ. If you don’t what I mean by exclamatory rhetorical question: here is an example: 知るか!.

One peculiarity to look out for is that the concept of question word+か meaning “some-” ie: 何か=”something” was less prevalent the further you go back, so that question-word+か+…+Verb is more often equivalent to modern “question-word+…+Verb+か”.

The final particle か works just as you’d expect (almost identical to modern か).

If は comes after か it is more likely to be a rhetorical question.

When か is used at the end of a sentence for a purely exclamatory function it is sometimes classified as a separate particle, but it’s basically the same thing.

Bound Particle [こそ]

・Ultimate Emphasis [なむ<ぞ<こそ]
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //体言・準体言 (Nouns, Nominals), 格助詞 (except が)、接続助詞(て、して、で)、副助詞、係助詞 (も)//
   Binds: 已然形

This grammatical structure survives in modern Japanese with こそあれ、こそすれ and often with the “binding” dropped. It’s emphasis is much stronger than なむ or ぞ and thus has a completely different binding.

こそあれ、こそすれ constructions are basically the same as ~はあっても、~をしても with a lot more emphasis.

You can argue that constructions such as どうもあれ are こそ constructions with the こそ removed, but considering どうせ you may also make the argument that it’s only a “similar” construction that uses the 命令形 rather than 已然形 (because of “せ” rather than すれ).

When こそ comes at the end of a sentence it has an implied predicate, which could be anything depending on context.

In the Nara period, こそ sometimes attached to the 連用形 of verbs.

・Hailing
  In-Sentence:
   Attaches to //人名 (Names)//

This is used to address the person you are talking to (or about, in a rhetorical fashion.) It is identical to the modern Japanese よ as in 人間よ、…

Final Note on Bound Particles:

As time went on, some bound particles lost their bindings (or they became optional), and some bindings lost their particles. The reason in modern Japanese we can end questions with の (the equivalent of 連体形), is because of an implied か – i.e. the binding without the particle. Declarative の is the same thing with なむ/ぞ. Constructions like どうあれ can be considered the same thing with こぞ and 已然形, but these cases are more limited than the above.

副助詞 “Adverbial Particles” [だに、すら、さへ、のみ、ばかり、など、まで、し/しも]

All adverbial particles usually follow nominals (including 連体形) or other particles, but can be attached to things like adverbs and other words on occasion. Adverbial particles are used to denote amount, extent or emphasis like “only, even, just, in addition”.

Adverbial Particle [だに]

Adverbial particle だに is used to denote a minimal case when one needs or desires much more. What follows is usually either a request, demand, or desirative.

昇らんをだに見送り給へ = “At the very least, watch me ascend (to the heavens).”

散りぬとも香をだに残せ梅の花 = “If these plum blossoms must wither/scatter, at the very least leave your fragrance.”

However this is not limited to personal wants or demands:

水をだに喉へも入れ給はず = “…and he could not even drink water (he was so ill)”.

and eventually it’s meaning bled together with すら, replacing it in some writings until だに almost completely fell out of use past the medieval period. (すら remains used in modern Japanese).

Adverbial Particle [すら]

Adverbial particle すら is used to denote a general minimal case, equivalent to “even X, not to mention Y”, “if X, then all the more Y”.

言問はぬ木すら妹(いも)と兄(せ)ありとふ(=といふ)をただ独子(ひとりご)にあるが苦しさ = “Though they cannot speak it is said that even trees have brothers and sisters! How painful it is to be an only child!”

すら can have a similar meaning to だに, but it is not automatically inherent.

愛(は)しきやし君が目すらを欲(ほ)りて嘆くも = “Beloved, how I grieve, wanting at least a glimpse of you!”

It was more common in ancient Japanese, was replaced by だに, and then resurfaced in the Edo period onward.

In modern Japanese, it often appears as ですら.

Adverbial Particle [さへ]

Adverbial particle さへ actually came out of the word 添ふ(そふ), which means to add, or attach to. Therefore it means “in addition to” attaching importance to the additional case.

ひとつ子にさへありければ、いとかなしうし給ひけり = “In addition to that, as he was an only child, (the mother) was all the more saddened.”

However, those of you familiar with さえ in modern Japanese know it mainly as a word that means “even”. This is because while すら originally had this function, it was absorbed by だに when すら fell out of use. When だに fell out of use in the medieval period, さえ absorbed the “even” function. Its “in addition” function still remains in sentences like this: “強風に加えて雨さえ降り出した” = “In addition to the strong winds, it even started to rain.”

Adverbial Particle [のみ]

Adverbial particle のみ means for all intents and purposes, “only”, but it doesn’t share all the functionality of the modern だけ (which takes many functions from ばかり).

In some cases it can be used as not a strict “only” but “nothing does so more than this”.

Ex: 何事も、古き世のみぞしたはしき = “More than anything, it is periods of periods of the past that evoke longing.”

Adverbial Particle [ばかり]

Adverbial particle ばかり comes from 計り and is often written as 許り.

When used with numbers, amounts, or times it means “about, approximately”.

When following the 終止形, it means the same as ほど “to the extent that”.

When following nominals (including the 連体形), it means the same as だけ “only” – from the Kamakura period onward it gains the meaning “doing nothing but, repeatedly”

When the word ほど became more in use in the Kamakura period the “to the extent that” function was less used. In the Edo period, the “only” function was replaced by だけ, and so in modern Japanese only the first and “intense repetition” meanings remain.

Adverbial Particle [など]

Adverbial particle など means “things such as”, and is often written as 等 which is a character means (the same as, equivalent to). You also see this symbol in ~ら endings, such as ぼくら=僕等.

Adverbial Particle [まで]

Its meaning is the same as in modern japanese, meaning “to the extent that” and “up until, as far as” etc.

Adverbial Particle [し、しも]

Adverbial particle し (further emphasized with も as しも) is used for emphasis on a particular “item”. It is often used with 今 and 今日, and can have a similar meaning to “only”/”only then” depending on where the emphasis is placed.

花をし見れば物思ひもなし。 “When I see the blossoms, only then does my melancholy disappear.”

You may be familiar with 必ずしも as “(not) necessarily”. This works because しも calls particular emphasis to 必ず meaning “definitely, without a doubt”. and saying, it is not to that “certain” extent when it is followed (as it always is) by a negative.

終助詞 “Final Particles” [しが(+な/も)、もが(+な/も)、な、かな (/か/かも)、かし、なむ (/なも)、ばや、な、ね/に、こそ、な (/も)]

Final Particle [しが、しがな、しがも、(しか、しかな、しかも)]

Final particle しが comes after the 連用形 of verbs, and of the つ and ぬ auxiliary verbs. (In fact, it is almost exclusively after the つ and ぬ auxiliary verbs Heian period onward.) しか、しかな、しかも are Nara-period forms. しか itself is derived from the recollective き/し in 連体形 and the final particle か. There is also a theory that it derives straight from きs 已然形, but it wouldn’t make sense to use an 已然形 ending connected with desire in my opinion. The way I make sense of it is that it seems to work very much like like the modern construction ~たらと思う.

Final particle しが is used to convey a first-person “if only” desiderative. な is added for emphasis, も is less common (older), and is also added for emphasis.

Final Particle [もが、もがな、もがも, (もか)]

Final particle もが comes after nominals and the 連用形 of adjectives (it also attaches to the 連用形 of なり adjectives and other things occasionally). The easiest way to think of it is as a version of しが for nomainals/adjectives.

Final particle もが is used to convey a first-person “if only” desiderative (it carries an implied あり with it to form a “if only it was this way” sort of thing). な is added for emphasis, も is less common (older), and is also added for emphasis. Like しが came from しか, もが came from もか, which itself is derived from a combination of the も and か bound particles.

Final Particle [な] (Prohibition Type)

Prohibitory final particle な comes after the 終止形 of verbs and auxiliary verbs. It’s a negative imperative and works the same way as it does in modern Japanese.

Final Particle [か、かな、かも]

Final particle か comes after nominals and the 連体形 of verbs (and adjectives and all other inflected forms) and is used for an expression of emotional movement, whether it be exclamatory or just “I’m ‘moved’ by this” sort of thing. かも was used primarily in the Nara period, where it was replaced by かな.

Final Particle [かし]

Final particle かし is an all-purpose super emphasizer, and attaches to the end of phrases or sentences. It is derived of final particle か and adverbial particle し. The phrase “さぞかし” is a common example of usage. It often attaches to already exclamatory emphasized conjugations, like after ぞ or an imperative/negative-imperative command.

Final Particle [なむ/なん, (なも)]

Final particle なむ is a requesting desiderative that asks that someone else do something, and comes after the 未然形 of verbs and adjectives.

Final particle なむ is derived from なも which is its Nara form.

なん is just a sound change from なむ.

Final Particle [ばや]

Final particle ばや is a personal desiderative that comes after the 未然形 of verbs.

Final Particle [な] (Personal Desiderative Type)

Personal desiderative final particle な is a personal desiderative that comes after the 未然形 of verbs.

Final Particle [ね、に]

Final particles ね and に are requesting desideratives that come after the 未然形 of verbs.

Final Particle [こそ]

Final particle こそ is a requesting desiderative that comes after the 連用形 of verbs. Remember, 連用形. Not 未然形 or 已然形.

Final Particle [な, (も)] (Exclamatory Type)

Exclamatory final particle な comes after the 終止形, 命令形, and case particle と. It is used for exclamation and similary to modern ね/な in seeking affirmation.

も is the Nara version of な, and was gradually replaced. (This is why you see many final particles with a +な and +も form.)

Final Particle [(そ)]

See な…そ in the Nara Syntax/Foundations section.

間投助詞 “Interjectory Particles” [よ、や、を、(い)]

Interjectory Particle [よ]

Interjectory Particle [や]

Interjectory Particle [を]

All of these are extremely similar and all come after nominals, 連体形, and 命令形.

Exclamation/Emphasis: や、よ、を (Think of this as poetic emphasis)
Address: や、よ (Think of this as “hey you!”)
Rhythm: や (Think of this as adding beats to poems to fill syllables).

Interjectory Particle [(い)]

This pre-Heian particle comes after nominals and the 連体形, and is used to mark emphasis. It has only one real usage since the Heian period and that is in the phrase “あるいは”

It is meaningful to note that い is also used as a short form of exclamatory よ and や, seen だよ=だい, なよ=ない (with Prohibition な), and かや=かい, but that is not a separate particle, only a sound change.

ク語法・ミ語法・な…そ Nara Syntax/Foundations [(ら)く, み, な]

None of these are considered particles, but they are very much like them, and two deal with them, and all of these grammatical rules are important when you’re reading pre-Heian works, and all of them have contributed to more recent words and grammar.

ク語法 “Ku-Syntax” [(ら)く]

(ら)く is a nominalizer. It can mean “doing X”, “where X is done”, “when doing X”, or “in regards to doing X” it is often followed by は, which in a few cases has been sound changed to ば

く attaches to the 未然形 of 四段, ラ変 of verbs and auxiliary verbs (including む, which’s 未然形 is ま) and to the older (non-あり) 未然形 of adjectives. The one exception is that it comes after the 連体形 of 「き」(“recollective past”)

らく attaches to the 未然形 of 一段 verbs and the 終止形 of 二段, カ変, and サ変 verbs.

To make things simple, with the small exception of き+く = しく, “く”, and adj+く = “けく” will always come after an “a” sound. I have heard the theory that there was a noun like 事 that was read あく, and that all this is is a great sound-change. While that sounds great and I want to agree with it, I haven’t seen any real evidence for any word あく. However, the fact that everything in 連体形+あく (even the adj structure) sound-changes pretty well into what it is now means I’ll keep searching. For now I’ll just consider (ら)く’s -a stem behavior something similar to (ら)る and (さ)す and (ら)ゆ. (All of which attach to the 未然形 and don’t have anything really to do with the “hasn’t happened yet” notion).

An especially common case is なくに and なくも formed by the negative auxiliary ず in its vestigial 未然形 な+く It was so common in fact that it was gradually mistaken for an adjective and then reverse engineered as the awesome grammatical adjective 無い.

Examples of this special sort of conjugation that are very common even in modern Japanese:

思はくは = modern 思わくは also written 思惑は
願はくは = modern 願わくは also written 願わくば
言はく = modern 曰く

This is the best theory for how く actually works: [link]

ミ語法 “Mi-Syntax” [み]

み is a special suffix that attaches directly to the stem of an adjective and it carries the meaning “because”. If there was a subject before the adjective, an interjectory を is put instead of a が or は.

Thus, 山を高み translates into 山が高いので…

It is very common in the 万葉集, but hardly anywhere else.

な…そ “Negative Adverb な and Final Particle そ”

Possibly a precursor to the prohibitive final particle な, this negative adverb な (presumably derived from the 未然形 of ず) is not a particle.

When な is used in a sentence the verb it links to is put in the 連用形 (or 未然形 for カ変 and サ変 verbs) and it forms the same meaning as if the Prohibition final particle な were used.

However it is often paired with the final particle そ which attaches to the verb and is used to soften the command and make it more like a request.

While the な…そ construction lasted into the medieval era, そ was often used without な.

声な聞かせそ “Do not force your voice upon me!”
人ないたく詫びさせ奉り給いそ “Do not make people suffer so terribly!”
「ほととぎすいたくな鳴きそ汝(な)が声を五月の玉にあへ貫(ぬ)くまでに」〈万・一四六五〉

MAN’YOUGANA CHART:

  K S T N F M Y R W G Z D B
a 阿安英足 可何加架香蚊迦 左佐沙作者柴紗草散 太多他丹駄田手立 那男奈南寧難七名魚菜 八方芳房半伴倍泊波婆破薄播幡羽早者速葉歯 万末馬麻摩磨満前真間鬼 也移夜楊耶野八矢屋 良浪郎楽羅等 和丸輪 我何賀 社射謝耶奢装蔵 陀太大嚢 伐婆磨魔
i1 伊怡以異已移射五 支伎岐企棄寸吉杵來 子之芝水四司詞斯志思信偲寺侍時歌詩師紫新旨指次此死事准磯為 知智陳千乳血茅 二人日仁爾迩尼耳柔丹荷似煮煎 比必卑賓日氷飯負嬪臂避臂匱 民彌美三水見視御   里理利梨隣入煎 位為謂井猪藍 伎祇芸岐儀蟻 自士仕司時尽慈耳餌児弐爾 遅治地恥尼泥 婢鼻弥
i2 貴紀記奇寄忌幾木城 非悲斐火肥飛樋干乾彼被秘 未味尾微身実箕 疑宜義擬 備肥飛乾眉媚
u 宇羽于有卯烏得 久九口丘苦鳩来 寸須周酒州洲珠数酢栖渚 都豆通追川津 奴努怒農濃沼宿 不否布負部敷経歴 牟武無模務謀六 由喩遊湯 留流類   具遇隅求愚虞 受授殊儒 豆頭弩 夫扶府文柔歩部
e1 衣依愛榎 祁家計係價結鶏 世西斉勢施背脊迫瀬 堤天帝底手代直 禰尼泥年根宿 平反返弁弊陛遍覇部辺重隔 売馬面女 曳延要遥叡兄江吉枝衣 礼列例烈連 廻恵面咲 下牙雅夏 是湍 代田泥庭伝殿而涅提弟 弁便別部
e2 気既毛飼消 閉倍陪拝戸経 梅米迷昧目眼海 義気宜礙削 倍毎
o1 意憶於應 古姑枯故侯孤児粉 宗祖素蘇十 刀土斗度戸利速 努怒野 凡方抱朋倍保宝富百帆穂 毛畝蒙木問聞 用容欲夜 路漏 乎呼遠鳥怨越少小尾麻男緒雄 吾呉胡娯後籠児悟誤 土度渡奴怒 煩菩番蕃
o2 己巨去居忌許虚興木 所則曾僧増憎衣背苑 止等登澄得騰十鳥常跡 乃能笑荷 方面忘母文茂記勿物望門喪裳藻 与余四世代吉 呂侶 其期碁語御馭凝 序叙賊存茹鋤 特藤騰等耐抒杼

It's alright if you don't understand, Anything further is a nuisance.

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