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How-to say “to begin to do VERB” (Pre-ます-Form VERB + かける)

How-to say “to begin to do VERB” (Pre-ます-Form VERB + かける)

The grammar pattern that consists of the Pre-ます-Form of a VERB word followed by the word かける expresses the idea of “beginning to do VERB.” This expression is very similar to another grammar pattern, Pre-ます-Form VERB + 始める, which also translates to “to begin VERBing.” The distinction between the two is that whereas Pre-ます-Form VERB + 始める more generally describes something that has begun doing a VERB action (and typically continues to do that action) , Pre-ます-Form VERB + かける a particular nuance of “on the verge of doing VERB, about to do VERB, almost do VERB, to get halfway into doing VERB, etc.” In a lot of cases, this nuance will also imply that the VERB action was halted after it was beginning to be done.

*かける is one of the rather special words in the Japanese language, wherein it can be associated with literally more than 20 different definitions, so do be careful about automatically assuming it is serving the function of this grammar pattern when you hear it being used!

Construction:

Pre-ます-Form VERB + かける = “to start doing VERB”
Pre-ます-Form VERB + かけ + の + NOUN = “NOUN that SUBJECT had started doing VERB to/with”

Example(s):

あ!忘れかけた!
A! Wasurekaketa!
(“Ah! I almost forgot!”)

読みかけている本は期待に反して面白くない。
Yomikakete iru hon wa kitai ni hanshite omoshirokunai.
(“The book that I’ve started reading isn’t as interesting as I had hoped.”)

読みかけの本
Yomi kake no hon
(“Partly read book”)

食べかけのハンバーガー
Tabe kake no hamburger
(“Half-eaten hamburger”)

宿題をしかけたが残った部分はすごく難しい。
Shukudai o shikaketa ga nokotta bubun wa sugoku muzukashii.
(“I started doing my homework, but the part that’s left is really hard.”)

彼はぼーっとして、落ちかけた。
Kare wa bo-tto shite, ochikaketa.
(“The guy was spacing out and nearly fell down.”)

寝かけたが突然火災警報機が鳴った。
Nekaketa ga totsuzen kasaikeihouki ga natta.
(“I was about to go to sleep but all of a sudden the fire alarm went off.”)