Japanese compound verbs

Posted on March 19, 2006 | evankirby

One of the most interesting and flexible elements of Japanese is how verbs can be combined to create new words. In English, it's quite rare for two verbs to be stuck together, end to end, to have a single meaning. However, this is quite common in Japanese.
So, for example, in English we have the phrase "copy and paste", whereas in Japanese, this is shortened to "kopi-pe" - the two actions are run together as one. Perhaps the most common form of this is when the "root" form of verbs (what's left after "-masu" is removed from the polite form) is used to make a noun. For example, "Norikae" is a noun meaning to change trains. This word comes from the root forms of "noru" (to ride) plus "kaeru" (to change). In this way, two simple words can be combined to create a third word.