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Pre-ます-Form VERB + (切る/切れない) as “to do VERB to completion/to not be able to do VERB to completion”

Pre-ます-Form VERB + (切る/切れない) as “to do VERB to completion/to not be able to do VERB to completion”

The Japanese verb word 切る not only has more than 20 different definitions but also forms a grammar pattern with its own meaning when followed by the Pre-ます-Form of another VERB word. Drawing from the same general idea that some of 切る’s definitions represent (e.g. “to cut,” “to sever,” “to terminate” etc.), this construction of Pre-ます-Form VERB + 切る means “to do something to completion” or “to successfully do something.”

In accordance with the latter definition, this grammar pattern is typically used to express that one is satisfied from their performance of the VERB word action.

*When this grammar pattern is used with VERB words that express states of being or mind, the translation of “to do VERB to completion” becomes unnatural, and the better interpretation is “to be very VERB.”

Adversely, the negative form of this grammar pattern is the construction of Pre-ます-Form VERB + 切れない and is used to express a dissatisfaction at one’s inability to do VERB to completion. (The fact that 切れない is the Negative-Form of the Potential Form of 切る instead of just the regular Negative-Form may be indicative of the association of this grammar pattern with feelings of satisfaction/dissatisfaction, as the wording of “was not able to finish doing VERB” expresses more dissatisfaction than the more objective wording of “did not finish VERB.”)

Pre-ます-Form VERB + 切る = “to VERB completely”
Pre-ます-Form VERB + 切れない = “not able to VERB completely”

“to make up one’s mind, to make a momentous decision”

Sakuban wa tetsuya shite kyoukasho o yomikitta.
“Last night I pulled an all-nighter and read the textbook entirely.”

Mankanzenseki o tabekirimashita!!
“I finish eating the Manchu Han Imperial Feast!”

Tsukarekitta senshutachi wa bus de nemurikonda.
“The exhausted players fell asleep on the bus.”

Kanojo wa imada ni kare o shinjikitte iru
“Even now, she still blindly believes in him.”

“I can’t wait. (I can’t finish waiting.)”

Kazoekirenai ryou
“An innumerable amount. (An amount one cannot finish counting)”

Kansha shikirenai
“I can’t thank you enough. (I can’t finish thanking you.)”

Osaekirenai warai.
“An uncontrollable laugh. (A laugh that cannot be completely held back)”

Nihongo ni wa, muzukashii kanji ga takusan atte, oboekirenai.
“The Japanese language has so many difficult kanji that I can’t remember them all.”

Similar Grammar Pattern(s):
~て-Form VERB + しまう as “to doing something completely (with a sense of irreversibility and regret)”