Compound verbs are created in Japanese by adding one verb to another verb’s stem. Verbs that attach to others in this way are called supplementary verbs. However, not all verbs can be used in this way. The first ones that we will study concern “beginning”, which are ～始める, ～出す, and ～かける.
|連用形||食べる → 食べ||思う → 思い||する → し||来る → 来（き）|
The 一段 verb 始める means "to begin/start". It also means this in compound verbs. So, you can use it to create new verbs like the following.
|書く ＋ 始める ＝ 書き始める||To begin writing|
|する ＋ 始める ＝ し始める||To begin doing|
|壊す ＋ 始める ＝ 壊し始める||To begin destroying|
|覚える ＋ 始める ＝ 覚え始める||To begin remembering|
Remember that this verb is transitive. However, when it attaches to verbs, the transitivity of the verb expression is determined by the verb that it attaches to. So, it attaches to both intransitive and transitive verbs. So, when it’s used as a stand-alone verb, you have the 始まる and 始める contrast, but not in compound verbs.
I started writing the report today.
I started doing my homework.
It was six years ago since I started studying Japanese.
I began to feel tired.
I'll start studying Japanese from next semester.
To start work.
I began a conversation.
The snow started to turn into icy sleet.
My hands began to feel numb.
1. みぞれ can be written in 漢字 as 霙, but you are not responsible for this.
2. かじかむ can be written in 漢字 as 悴む, but you are not responsible for this.
First and foremost, 出す is a transitive verb which means "to take out", and it may be used in array of situations. Although not the main point of this section, here are some examples of how this verb is used as a stand-alone verb.
To take out the trash.
It gave off a strong smell.
To submit a report.
I serve drinks at that store.
To mail a letter.
～出す is like ～始める in that they both describe the start of an action, circumstance, or change, but they are slightly different.
～始める is used generally in regards to the starting of an event, and it is used with verbs of volition, actions in which people have control of, in this sense. In the case that it shows a circumstance or change beginning, it is used with non-volitional/intransitive verbs. Even still, it generally states the beginning of something.
～出す attaches to verbs of volition/non-volition as well. Thus, although the main verb is transitive, the transitivity of the compound verb expression is decided by the verb that it attaches to. As for ～出す, it describes the sudden start of an action or circumstance. In this sense, it is far more emotionally emphatic.
To be clear on how this is attached to verbs, consider the following chart.
|動く (To move)||+ 出す →||動き出す||叫ぶ (To shout)||+ 出す →||叫び出す|
|歩く (To walk)||+ 出す →||歩き出す||飛ぶ (To fly)||+ 出す →||飛び出す|
Yumiko broke into tears.
She started to laugh (big time).
He began to dash.
The sun showed its face.
It began to rain (a lot).
Note: 見出す ＝ みいだす (to find; pick out)
Watching a funny movie, I burst out laughing.
I was flushed with dissatisfaction at the government's stance.
Word Note: ふきだす is a word with two spellings and several meanings. It can show something spouting out with much force, which can be applied in a physical sense or in a more abstract sense like in Ex. 21. In Ex. 22, it has a meaning of “sprout out”. Just as in Ex. 20, it may be like 笑い出す. The verb is also sometimes used in a transitive sense.
The bud sprouted (out).
Mt. Sakurajima always spouts out white volcanic ash.
Geography Note: 桜島 is an island next to 鹿児島, which is a major city on the southern tip of 九州, the southernmost major Japanese island. This island has an active volcano, 活火山 (also read more correctly asかつかざん), which is formally called 桜島御岳.
御 is an honorific prefix, and although it is usually read as お in this context, it is actually read with the older reading おん here. 岳 is an alternative character for certain mountains/volcanos as opposed to the more frequent山. However, this active volcano is usually called 桜島, despite being the name of the island. If the ash was to finally stop and the volcano became dormant, it would be called as 休火山.
漢字 Note: Do not read 火山 as かさん. The change from さん to ざん is not because of sequential voicing. Instead, ざん is a later 音 reading that entered Japanese from Chinese. You see this reading in similar words like 氷山 (iceberg).
However, 灰 does get voiced due to sequential voicing, which is called 連濁. はい is not Chinese. The Chinese reading is かい. This reading is used in words like 灰白色 (grayish white).
Prefix Note: 真っ白 is “pure/snow-white”. When you attach 真っ to other colors, be careful of sound changes! 真っ青 ＝ まっさお; 真赤 ＝ まっか; 真っ黒 ＝ まっくろ. Note that 真っ白い is possible for many speakers, but it is not 100% proper Japanese.
The grape tree’s shoots will sprout.
Transitivity Note: This pair of sentences shows flexibility in transitivity. However, it is important to note that the latter is more frequently used as it is shorter. This is does not, though, make the former incorrect or unnatural Japanese.
1. Many things have 漢字. Although ぶどう is typically not written as 葡萄, it’s important for you to get the feel of what does have a 漢字 spelling, even if it’s not provided to you.
2. 噴き出す may not be used in the plant sense of “to sprout”. 噴, pronounced as ふん in compounds, has the meaning of “erupt”. Thus, 火山の噴火 means “volcano eruption”.
Another peculiar difference is that ～始める but not ～出す may be used with phrases like ～てください (please…). Even with, ～てもいい (all right to…), ～出す is often unnatural.
Please start to eat.
Is it alright if I start eating?
～かける also marks the starting of an action or circumstance. The exact nuances that it could have are all over the place to the point that it's best to take each case individually and find out what it means. This may sound like a very difficult task to do, but there are a few commonalities across the combinations that you can use to understand this ending better. 1. you already know that it can deal with something starting. Thus, it may show something being on the verge of whatever. 2. this "on the verge" meaning is very similar to doing something midway/halfway. As a nominal phrase in the form of ～かけ in describing things half-done.
In the example sentences below, Examples 28~30 should be straight-forward. The last two involve more thinking, and the latter example will require some more information about the verb かける itself to make sense.
To be on the verge of starting to say something.
She almost died twice.
The day is breaking.
Don't talk to strangers!
To puff smoke into his face.
Sentence Note: 話しかける refers to the point in time when one tries to start a conversation. So, you're still on the verge of something. 吹きかける requires that you understand かける may also mean "to cover/put over". Even so, the verb is still somewhat figurative because 煙を吹く also exists with the meaning "to blow smoke", but this wouldn't be used in the context of Ex. 32.
～かかる may also be used to mean "to begin," but it implied that one is on the verge of an end result. It may also be used to show that an action is being directed elsewhere. Either way, because this ending is not that productive, you will have to study how to use it on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, you will also have to learn the transitivity of the resultant verb.
I have seldom seen fish at the point of death.
Worries weighed heavily on her.
When do you start work?
To begin preparations for the trip.