Grammar Info

N3 Lesson 9: 9/22


Half-, Not yet finished, About to, Begin to


Verb[ます+ かけ
Verb[ます+ かける
Verb[ます+ かけ + Noun


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About かけ

Being an unofficial helper verb, かけ is what is known as a 造語(ぞうご) (neologism), and carries one specific meaning when used in conjunction with other words. This is similar to (). かけ comes from the verb ()ける 'to suspend', and may be attached to the conjunctive form or other verbs, in order to convey that they are 'unfinished'. Usually this translates as 'half (A)', 'about to (A)', or 'not yet finished (A)'.
かけ behaves like a noun, so may be followed by the case marking particle の when attached directly to another noun, or by when at the end of a sentence.
  • (おれ)()かけけど大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)
    This is half-eaten by me, is that okay?
  • これ(わたし)()かけ
    This is my half-drunken one.
  • (かれ)()かけ子犬(こいぬ)(すく)った。
    He saved a puppy that was about to die. (Half dead)
  • 彼女(かのじょ)(こわ)かけパソコン()って(なお)趣味(しゅみ)
    Her hobby is to buy half-broken computers and fix them. (Computers on the verge of breaking)
Occasionally, the verb ()ける itself may be used instead of the noun form, かけ.
  • やばい、()かけところだった
    Wow, I was about to die right there. (Almost on the verge of dying)
  • ()かけ(みず)()てる。
    I will throw away my half drunk water.
Fun Fact
As the literal meaning of ()ける is 'to suspend', it expresses that something is stuck somewhere in the process of happening. This is similar to taking a photo of someone that is jumping. In the photo it will look like they are 'suspended', but that is only because one particular moment has been captured, somewhere between the start and the finish. かけ conveys exactly the same meaning, and therefore may be interpreted differently, depending on the verb it is paired with.
With verbs that express a momentary action (something that cannot be 'half' done), かけ will convey that the action was 'on the verge of' happening.
  • 先週(せんしゅう)事故(じこ)()にかけそうになった。
    I was on the verge of dying in an accident last week.
  • (こわ)れかけていた椅子(いす)(すわ)たら椅子(いす)(こわ)れた。
    When I sat on a chair that was on the verge of breaking, it broke.
However, with verbs that are ongoing actions, かけ will simply imply that they are 'in the process' of being done.
  • ()わりかけからちょっと()って。
    I'm in the process of finishing, so can you wait a little.



  • 今日(きょう)宿題(しゅくだい)もう()わりかけです。

    Today's homework is about to be finished. (Half-finished)

    • (わたし)は、何冊(なんさつ)()かけの(ほん)がある。

      I have a lot of books that are half-read.

      • ()かけのケーキでも()ければあります

        I have some half-eaten cake, if you would like.

        • ()かけの()(はや)完成(かんせい)させたい。

          I want to finish this half-drawn picture quickly.

          • この時計(とけい)(こわ)かけだけど、ないよりはいいか。

            This watch is half-broken, but is still better than nothing.

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            かけ – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (5 in total)

            • mrnoone


              Hey @testing !
              You have a good eye!

              Actually, 完成する is closer to intransitive verb by itself, meaning ‘to be completed’.

              The new movie has been completed.

              In order to make it more transitive, we can use a kind of trick - using causative form.

              In other words, using させる will make it transitive so you can use it like this:

              I will complete the paining.

              Using causative form this way also often adds strong nuance that it will be speaker/writer who will do the verb.

              I hope it helps,

              You can use this method with other verbs like 終わる、making it into transitive 終わらせる (instead of using 終える). This can be used to emphasize the nuance mentioned above, or to show eagerness to do soemthing.

              To finish homework.

            • testing


              Ah, interesting - thanks! Is there any way to spot that it’s not the usual meaning of making/letting other people do it? I googled around a bit, and there were hardly any other examples besides 完成 for it. It feels a bit weird that it adds that nuance, considering that it’s usually about the opposite (making other people do things).

              I guess I might just have to file it under “Japanese is weird sometimes” and slowly get the feeling for it while seeing it in the wild.

            • Fuga


              Hey @testing !

              The only way you can really spot that it is not the usual meaning of making other people do it is usually by looking at the context. For example, for sentences like, 描きかけの絵を早く完成させたい, you can assume that it is used with the nuance of ‘making myself do something’, because of the たい at the end of the sentence. Also, words like 終わらせる and 完成させる are often used when the speaker wants to make themselves finish/complete something, and not used when the speaker wants to make another person finish or complete something. So, yes, it is one of those ‘Japanese is weird sometimes’ kind of thing.

              I hope that helps!

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