代える vs. 代わる


#1

Hi everybody,

after a break for over two years i decided to reset my account a few weeks ago and to start from the beginning again.
This time I want to spend more time in really understanding the vocabularies as well.

Can anybody please tell me what the difference between 代える and 代わる is.
They both mean to replace and they don’t seem to be different in the context neither.

I know that there are a lot of synonyms of course, but they are almost the same word.
Is there any small detail which explains a difference in meaning or are they really just the same?


#2

代える —> transitive verb (a verb that requires an agent to complete the verb)
代わる —> intransitive verb (a verb that is complete in itself)

Formation/use:

formation source

EDIT: If you’re interested in reading more about transitive and intransitive verbs, here’s a good article by Tofugu :slightly_smiling_face:


#3

wow super fast.
Thank you! That makes it more understandable for me :slight_smile:


#4

No problem! I’m glad you decided to start back with WaniKani again, good luck with your studies ^^


#5

Thanks :slight_smile:
Last time I had to stop at level 7 because I didn’t have a lot of free time and so the reviews piled up.
But this time I will manage the workload better even if I progress slower that way. I finally want to learn Japanese to watch Anime without subtitles, read manga in japanese and travel to Japan without the need to speak english all the time :smiley:


#6

Isn’t that confusing, because “A switches with B” also has an agent? I would rather say transitive requires an direct object. That’s why omitting the direct object C in “AがBに代える: A makes B to switch (with C)” is a bit unfortunate teaching style :slight_smile:

On second thought, isn’t this wrong? I think B is the result of the switching, as in
バターをマーガリンに代える。 (substitute margarine for butter)

Hmm just confusing …


#7

However there is no agent because nothing is acting upon A to do the switching, the switching is complete within itself with 代わる

The particle differs in your example, the formation example quoted for the transitive 代える marks A with が to indicate the agent that is doing the switching, not what is being switched — I understand what you mean by the wording being weird, but the particles will let you know what is doing the switching and what is being switched there


#8

I do agree that the proper way to think of it is that transitive verbs require a direct object, because you’re often going to see the subject omitted in Japanese.


#9

I think we mean the same thing, my example doesn’t say who does the replacing. So a more complete example would be AがBにCを代える。 A replaces B with C.

Do I get this right that C is the direct object in Japanese, but indirect(?) in English?


#10

I see what you’re saying now, yeah we are saying the same thing :laughing:

I’ve been trying to think this question through to relate it to English and I think I’m overthinking it too much now :o


#11

I’m probably confused by my dictionary, it says

バターをマーガリンに代える
substitute margarine for butter / replace butter with [by] margarine

I probably got the substitute part wrong … You throw away butter and use margarine instead, right?

Doesn’t that mean for the example you found

AがBに代える
A changes ??? to B

And for mine

AがCをBに代える。
A replaces C with B.

I convinced myself for now that it’s the same as in English :slight_smile:


#12

Yes that’s right, so を is marking what is being switched (“thrown away” as you said :laughing:) and に is marking what you’re replacing it with, the “new” thing

I like discussing these types of things, thanks for bringing it up ^^