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Sunday, December 15, 2019

rentaikei 連体形

In Japanese, the rentaikei 連体形 is one of the six basic inflectable forms of verbs and adjectives.

For example, in {kirei na} neko 綺麗な猫, "a cat [that] {is pretty}," and {shaberu} neko しゃべる猫, "a cat [that] {talks}," the phrases kirei na 綺麗な and shaberu しゃべる are in the rentaikei.

Conjugation

For reference, how to conjugate the rentaikei.

Rentaikei Conjugation Table
no de
no ni
Irregular Verbs
kuru
くる
kuru
くる
suru
する
suru
する
Godan Verbs
kau
買う
kau
買う
kaku
書く
kaku
書く
oyogu
泳ぐ
oyogu
泳ぐ
korosu
殺す
korosu
殺す
katsu
勝つ
katsu
勝つ
shinu
死ぬ
shinu
死ぬ
asobu
遊ぶ
asobu
遊ぶ
yomu
読む
yomu
読む
kiru
切る
kiru
切る
Ichidan Verbs
kiru
着る
kiru
着る
taberu
食べる
taberu
食べる
Adjectives
kawaii
可愛い
kawaii
可愛い
kirei na
綺麗な
kirei na
綺麗な
Jodoushi 助動詞
masu
ます
masu
ます
desu
です
desu
です

In modern Japanese, the rentaikei is almost identical to the shuushikei 終止形. There are only a few differences.

For na-adjectives, the rentaikei is composed by the attributive copula na, while the shuushikei is composed by the predicative copula da.

The polite jodoushi desu です and masu ます do have a rentaikei, but it's only used in exceptional cases.

Grammar

The rentaikei is the form that comes before nouns (prenominal form), in order to attribute them qualities (attributive form) like an adjective would (adjectival form). Hence why people can call it so many different things in English.

In modern Japanese, most words have identical rentaikei and shuushikei forms. The only difference between them is that the rentaikei comes before nouns, but the shuushikei doesn't. Observe:
  • gakusei ga manabu
    学生が学ぶ
    The student studies.
    • gakusei - noun.
    • manabu - shuushikei.
  • {manabu} gakusei
    学ぶ学生
    The student [that] {studies}.
    • manabu - rentaikei.

With na-adjectives, the rentaikei uses na な, while the shuushikei uses da だ.
  • ano gakusei wa baka da
    あの学生は馬鹿
    That student is stupid.
    • baka - na-adjective.
    • da だ - shuushikei.
  • {baka na} gakusei
    馬鹿学生
    A student [that] {is stupid}.
    A stupid student.
    • na な - rentaikei.

Note: when a noun modifies another noun, we say that the noun is in the genitive case. In Japanese, the no の particle is the genitive case marking particle. Adjectives created in this manner are called no-adjectives.
  • ano gakusei wa ningen da
    あの学生は人間
    That student is a human.
    • ningen - noun.
  • {ningen no} gakusei
    人間学生
    A student [that] {is a human}.
    A human student.
    • ningen no - no-adjective.

This works the same way as na な. See: no の attributive copula. However, in traditional Japanese grammar, na な is a rentaikei, while no の is a particle.

Furthermore, note that na also has other functions in Japanese, one of which is, indeed, a particle.

For i-adjectives, both forms are identical, too.
  • natsu ga atsui
    夏が暑い
    The summer is hot.
  • {atsui} natsu
    暑い夏
    The summer, [which] {is hot}.
    The hot summer.

In old Japanese, the rentaikei of such adjectives can end in ~ki ~き, ~karu ~かる, and you can sometimes see these forms in titles of movies, books, and so on. For example:
  • Ie Naki Ko
    家な
    Child Without Home.
    • {ie no nai} ko
      家のない子
      A child [who] {doesn't have a home}.
  • Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai
    美し残酷な世界
    Beautiful Cruel World.
    • ED song of Shingeki no Kyojin 進撃の巨人.
  • Waga Yoki Tomo Yo
    我が良友よ
    My Good Friend.

Usage

The rentaikei is used every time an adjective or relative clause modifies a noun.

This includes, in particular, when a jodoushi modifies a noun. For example, the past form is composed by the ren'youkei 連用形 plus the ~ta ~た jodoushi. When this ~ta ~た jodoushi is modifying a noun, it's in the rentaikei.
  • hon wo katta
    本を買っ
    [I] bought the book.
    • ~ta ~た - shuushikei.
  • {hon wo katta} hito
    本を買っ
    The person [who] {bought the book}.
    • ~ta ~た - rentaikei, since it comes before the noun hito.

In Japanese, some words, called formal nouns, are syntactically nouns, but have rather grammatical functions. Nevertheless, since they're syntactically nouns, the rentaikei is used with them.
  • {hon wo katta} toki
    本を買ったとき
    The time [when] {[I] bought the book}.
    When {[I] bought the book}.
    • The noun toki, "time," translates to English naturally as "when."
  • {{hitsuyou na} toki ni} tsukau
    必要ときに使う
    To use [it] {at a time [when] {[it] is necessary}}.
    To use [it] {when {[it] is necessary}}.
    • Since toki is a noun, the rentaikei na な is used, not the shuushikei da だ.

Among these formal nouns, the most complicated one is the no の nominalizer. It's combined with other particles to form the conjunctions node ので, "because," and noni のに, "even though." Since it's a noun, what comes before it is the rentaikei na な.
  • {kirei na} no de
    綺麗ので
    Because {[it] is pretty}.
  • {kirei na} no ni
    綺麗のに
    Even though {[it] is pretty}.

This contrasts with words that are syntactically treated as conjunctions, like kara から, "because," and kedo けど, "though." Since these words aren't nouns, the rentaikei isn't used. The shuushikei is used instead.
  • kirei da kara
    綺麗から
    Because [it] is pretty.
  • kirei da kedo
    綺麗けど
    Though [it] is pretty.

When nouns come before the no の nominalizer, the na な copula is used instead of the no の copula. This sounds random at first, but it's easy to remember because you're just avoiding using two no の one after the other.
  • *ningen no no de
    人間のので
    (wrong.)
  • {ningen na} no de
    人間なので
    Because {[he] is a human}.

Polite Forms

In general, the polite jodoushi masu ます and desu です can't be used to modify nouns.
  • sono hito ga kirei desu
    その人が綺麗です
    That person is pretty. (polite.)
  • *kirei desu hito
    綺麗です人
    (wrong.)

This doesn't happen because the jodoushi don't have rentaikei forms. It happens because you just don't use polite forms to modify nouns.

Proof of this is that the past forms of these jodoushi can't be used to modify nouns either.
  • *kirei deshita hito
    綺麗でした人
    (still wrong.)

The past form is headed by the ~ta ~た jodoushi, which does have a rentaikei.
  • {kirei datta} hito
    綺麗だった人
    A person [that] {was pretty}.

If it was a matter of whether the jodoushi has a rentaikei or not, then we would be able to use deshita, since we can use datta, and both words end in ~ta.

However, we can use datta, but we can't use deshita, and the only difference between these two is that one is plain while the other is polite. Therefore, we can't use polite forms to qualify nouns, except in some specific cases.

Since node ので and noni のに act as conjunctions, it's somehow valid to use desu です and masu ます before them.
  • {kirei desu} no de
    綺麗ですので
    Because {[it] is pretty}. (polite.)
  • {kirei desu} no ni
    綺麗ですのに
    Even though {[it] is pretty}. (polite.)
  • {shirimasen deshita} no de
    知りませんでしたので
    Because {[I] didn't know about [it]}. (polite.)

Since no の is technically a noun, and desu です is coming before it above, that means what we have above is the rentaikei desu です, rather than the shuushikei desu です.

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