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From Classical Japanese (ru), which followed 下二段活用 (shimo nidan katsuyō, lower bigrade conjugation) and attached to the 未然形 (mizenkei, irrealis or incomplete form) of 四段活用 (yodan katsuyō, quadrigrade conjugation), ナ行変格活用 (na-gyō henkaku katsuyō, n-irregular conjugation), and ラ行変格活用 (ra-gyō henkaku katsuyō, r-irregular conjugation) verbs.

During the later stages of the language, as with other shimo nidan verbs, the original 終止形 (shūshikei, terminal form) (ru) was gradually lost as the 連体形 (rentaikei, attributive form) るる (ruru) came to be used for both functions, realigning the conjugations. The suffix came to be also used with (sa), the new 未然形 (mizenkei, irrealis or incomplete form) of サ行変格活用 (sa-gyō henkaku katsuyō, s-irregular conjugation) verbs. Finally, the conjugation type of the suffix shifted to 下一段活用 (shimo ichidan katsuyō, lower monograde conjugation), making the modern form れる (reru).


れる (ichidan conjugation, rōmaji -reru)

  1. (jodōshi) Used to form the passive of verbs.
    1. Makes the passive voice.
      相手 (あいて)選手 (せんしゅ) ()たら () (かえ)
      Aite no senshu ni osaretara, oshikaese!
      If you are pushed by opponent players, push them in return!
    2. Shows a spontaneous action.
    3. Forms a light honorific expression.
       (わたし)たち先生 (せんせい) () (ふん) (ぐらい) (もど)れる (おも)ます
      Watashitachi no sensei wa, go fun gurai de modorareru to omoimasu.
      Our teacher thinks it will be back in about five minutes.
       (てん) (のう) (へい) () (こう) (きょ) (もど)なられる
      tennōheika ga Kōkyo ni o modori ni narareru.
      The Emperor would be back to The Imperial Palace.
    4. (archaic) Makes the potential form; -able, -ible.


Usage notesEdit

Attaches only to the 未然形 (mizenkei, irrealis or incomplete form) of Group I (godan) verbs and the irregular verb する (suru). The result is conjugated like an ichidan verb.

The passive form of verbs from other conjugation classes are formed with られる (-rareru) instead of れる (-reru).

In modern Japanese, れる (-reru) is no longer used for the potential, a function which is now expressed by the 可能動詞 (kanō dōshi) form of godan verbs and by substituting できる (dekiru) for the irregular verb する (suru). Recently in colloquial speech, られる (-rareru) used for the potential is also shortened to れる (-reru), a practice called  () (こと) () (ra-nuki kotoba).

See alsoEdit