In Japanese there are many verbs which can be as a suffix to another verb in order to enhance the other verb’s meaning. The verb which is being enhanced comes first and is always in the pre-masu form (i.e. たべる→たべ or のむ→のみ). The suffix which does the modification can be conjugated like a normal verb into the negative, past, or some other tense.
In this post I’d like to talk about the verb きる (切る) which by itself means “to cut”, although as a suffix it means to do something completely. (きる can also mean “to wear” (着る), but that is unrelated)
- (pre masu form of a verb) + 〜きる (〜切る）= to do that verb’s action completely.
Though you can technically use this suffix with any verb, in practice there are few verbs it is used with commonly. I’ll show example sentences for some of those here.
- That’s obvious.
Here きる is used with “分かる” (to understand) to mean “completely understand”, which in natural English translates to something like “obvious”.
- There is a lot of food and I can’t finish it.
Here きる is conjugated to きれない which is the negative potential form and modifies the previous verb to mean “not able to completely do”. In this case the verb is the pre-masu form of 食べる (to eat), and so the resultant meaning is “not able to completely eat”.
- Today I exercised since morning and am exhausted.
Here the effect of 〜きる (conjugated in the past tense as きった) modifies 疲れる to mean “completely tired out”, or exhausted.
- There was’t enough time to completely explain it. (literally: “There was no time and it couldn’t be explained completely”)
- He can’t grown up and acts like a child.
- I’m looking forward to the trip! I can’t wait.
This use of 〜きる doesn’t exactly fit with the concept of “doing completely”, so it’s best to just remember “待ちきれない” as a phrase.
- My father completely made up his mind to go to Japan.
While 思う literally means “think” or “feel”, 思い切って is a set expression that means when someone has decided something with conviction, and can be translated as “take the plunge”. The verb 思い切る can also be used to mean “to give up”.
- Let’s do our best!
張り切る here is another set expression that means something like “to do with enthusiasm”. The verb 張る has many meanings including “to stretch”, “to strain”, or “to pull”. For the English translation, it’s a bit hard to capture the nuance so I just gave a generic phrase. Here is one more example using 張り切る。
- Today you seem filled with enthusiasm.
For our last phrase “やりきれない” there are two meanings. The first is what you would expect literally, which is “unable to finish doing something”. The other meaning is when something cannot be endured. Here’s a sample of the latter meaning.
- It’s so sad that I can’t bear it.