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