|Kanji in this term|
Conjugation into potential form → つかえる (tsukaeru, “to be capable of being used; to be useful”).
Unlike the English verb serve, which can take the object of service as a grammatical object, 仕える is always intransitive, and takes the particle に (ni) to specify the person, goal, etc. being served. From the etymology and grammar, a more idiomatic translation into English might be "to be useful to someone", where the bold "to" corresponds to the に particle in the Japanese. Note that this grammatical correspondence may disappear in a more idiomatic translation.
- motto mo takai mokuteki ni tsukaeru
- to be useful to the highest purpose → to serve the highest purpose
- Kono sūnenkan, chichihaha ni tsukaeteiru.
- I have been being useful to my parents for several years now. → I have been taking care of my parents for several years now.
- 神に仕える: serve God
- 主人に仕える: serve a master, serve an employer faithfully
- 二君に仕える (nikun ni tsukaeru): serve two masters
- すまじきものは宮仕え (sumajiki mono wa miyazukae): it is better to work for oneself than to work for someone else
- (rare) 事える (tsukaeru)
- (serve, serve under): 奉仕する (hōshi suru); 奉仕する (bushi suru)
- (enter public service): 仕官する (shikan suru)