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Grammar detail: ら抜き言葉(ranuki kotoba)

ら抜き言葉(ranuki kotoba)
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ことば
言葉
literally means 'words without ら', and the term is used to refer to a variant of the potential form of ichidan verbs which is becoming increasingly common.
The standard potential form of ichidan verbs ends in られる, which is identical to the passive form. This is not the case for godan verbs ending in る: the passive form is the same as ichidan, but the potential form ends in れる. Here's a summary of the standard forms:
plainpotentialpassive
ichidan
べる (eat)
べられる (can eat)
べられる (is eaten)
godan
つく
る (make)
つく
れる (can make)
つく
られる (is made)
ら抜き refers to the dropping of the ら in the potential form of ichidan verbs. So now the potential form of ichidan verbs and godan verbs is the same (れる) and the passive forms are also the same (られる). Here's a summary of the ら抜き forms (for godan, there is no change):
plainpotentialpassive
ichidan
べる (eat)
べれる (can eat)
べられる (is eaten)
godan
つく
る (make)
つく
れる (can make)
つく
られる (is made)
For example:
きみ
なま
カキ
べれます

Can you eat raw oysters?
Logically, this makes sense, because now the passive forms and potential forms are identical for any verb ending in る, so you can always tell from the ending that a word is passive rather than potential. The ら抜き forms are becoming increasingly common, and you will encounter them regularly. Please note however that they are still considered technically incorrect - they may be marked wrong in an exam context!
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Kanji used in this grammar

バツ   ぬ to extract, pull out   ぬける to come / fall out; be omitted   ぬかす to omit   ぬかる to make a blunder   
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ゲン   ゴン   say; word   こと word, saying   い to say   
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ヨウ   leaf   は leaves   
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ショク   ジキ    food   たべる to eat   く to eat   
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サク   サ   つく to make   
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クン   きみ you   
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セイ   ショウ    life   なま raw   いかす to enliven   いきる to live   いける to arrange flowers   うまれる to be born   う to give birth to   き pure, undiluted   お to grow, to sprout   はえる to grow, to sprout   はやす to grow, cultivate   
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