The Extended Use of the Verb "Suru"

Japanese businessmen might use the Decide-Function of Suru
Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

The verb "suru (to do)" has many extended uses, which occur quite often. 

(1) To Make

(a) Adverb form of I-adjective + suru
To change the I-adjective to the adverb form, replace the final ~i with ~ku. (e.g. ookii ---> ookiku)

  • Terebi no oto o ookiku shita. テレビの音を大きくした。--- I turned up the volume of the TV.
  • Tsugi no tesuto wa mou sukoshi muzukashiku suru tsumori da. 次のテストはもう少し難しくするつもりだ。--- I am going to make the next exam a little more difficult.

(b) Adverb form of Na-adjective + suru
To change the Na-adjective to the adverb form, replace the final ~na with ~ni. (e.g. kireina ---> kireini)

  • Heya o kireini suru. 部屋をきれいにする。--- I'm cleaning the room.
  • Kana wa darenidemo shinsetsu ni suru. 香奈は誰にでも親切にする。 --- Kana is kind to everybody.

(2) To Decide

"Suru" should be used when you are choosing from several available alternatives:

  • Koohii ni shimasu. コーヒーにします。--- I'll have coffee.
  • Kono tokei ni shimasu. この時計にします。--- I'll take this watch.
  • Pikunikku wa raishuu ni shimashou. ピクニックは来週にしましょう。--- Let’s agree that the picnic will be next week.

(3) The Cost, Duration of Time

When accompanied by phrases indicating price, it means "cost." When used with a verb that indicates duration of time, it means, "lapse".

  • Kono kaban wa gosen en shimashita. このかばんは五千円しました。--- This bag cost 5,000 yen.
  • Sono tokei wa dono gurai shimashita ka. その時計はどのぐらいしましたか。--- About how much did that watch cost?
  • Ato ichinen shitara Nihon ni ikimasu. 後一年したら日本に行きます。 --- I am going to Japan in another year.

When "suru" is used to mean duration of time, it is only be used in a subordinate clause. In a main clause, the verb "tatsu" is used instead.

  • Gonen tachimashita. 五年たちました。--- Five years passed.

(4) To Feel, to Smell, or to Hear

When "suru" is combined with phrases associated with appearance, it means, "to appear".

  • Kono hana wa ii nioi ga suru. この花はいい匂いがする。--- This flower smells good.
  • Nami no oto ga suru. 波の音がする。--- I hear the sound of the waves.
  • Kore wa henna aji ga shimasu. これは変な味がします。--- This tastes funny.
  • Samuke ga shimasu. 寒気がします。--- I feel a chill.

(5) To Appear

When "suru" is combined with phrases associated with appearance, it means, "to appear".

  • Kanojo wa samishisouna me o shite ita. 彼女はさみしそうな目をしていた。--- She had sad eyes. (Her eyes looked sad.)
  • Kare wa aoi kao o shite iru. 彼は青い顔をしている。--- His face looks pale.

(6) Loan Word + Suru

Loan words are often combined with "suru" to change the word into a verb. Most loan words are taken from English verbs. Here are some examples:

  • doraibu suru ドライブする --- to drive
  • taipu suru タイプする --- to type
  • kisu suru キスする --- to kiss
  • nokku suru ノックする --- to knock
  • pasu suru パスする --- to pass
  • hitto suru ヒットする --- to hit

(7) Noun (of Chinese Origin) + Suru

"Suru" is combined with nouns of Chinese origin to change them into a verb.

  • benkyou suru 勉強する --- to study
  • sentaku suru 洗濯する --- to do the washing
  • ryokou suru 旅行する --- to travel
  • shitsumon suru 質問する --- to ask questions
  • denwa suru 電話する --- to telephone
  • yakusoku suru 約束する --- to promise
  • sanpo suru 散歩する --- to take a walk
  • yoyaku suru 予約する --- to reserve
  • shokuji suru 食事する --- to have a meal
  • souji suru 掃除する --- to clean
  • kekkon suru 結婚する --- to get married
  • kaimono suru 買い物する --- to shop
  • setsumei suru 説明する --- to explain
  • junbi suru 準備する --- to prepare

The particle "o" can be used as an object particle after a noun. (e.g. "benkyou o suru," "denwa o suru") There is no difference in meaning with or without "o."

(8) Adverb or Onomatopoetic Expressions + Suru

Adverbs or onomatopoeic expressions can be combined with "suru" to change them into verbs.

  • yukkuri suru ゆっくりする --- to stay long
  • katto suru かっとする --- to flare up
  • zotto suru ぞっとする --- to shiver
  • bonyari suru ぼんやりする --- to be absent minded
  • niko niko suru ニコニコする --- to smile
  • waku waku suru ワクワクする --- to be excited