Ok, I never thought I would make a post/question here, but now is the time!!!

A lot of times I just memorized which version of a specific verb is transitive or intransitive. Since the words get more and more my head becomes a mess in this topic. Sometimes it’s clear what is transitive or intransitive, like 消す and 消える.
Im confusing more of these kind of verbs:

抜く / 抜ける
解く / 解ける
届く / 届ける
付く / 付ける

Just to name a few. What is the special trick here, to immediately know which one is which?

Thanks in advance! :pray::hugs:


This is a book that’ll probably clear things up. I am using this series’ particle book. It’s pretty good.

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This excellent video by Cure Dolly provides a pretty good rule-of-thumb system for recognizing most trans/intrans pairs. I highly recommend it. [Use Closed Captions (CC) if you have difficulty understanding Cure Dolly’s quirky accent.]:

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This website has a nice list with some hints to help you distinguish transitive from intrasitive:

My advice would be to use flashcards to remember the most important (i.e. the ones that you have seen most often so far in your studies) sets and also make sure you use example sentences so that you can see them used in context.

For me, the ability to distinguish between transtive and intransitive was mostly developed by just studying Japanese as someone normally would, as well as reading in Japanese. As you see more of the language, I think it naturally becomes more and more clear.


Learn them in context. Don’t memorize 焼く: transitive; memorize a short phrase like ケーキを焼く. 歯が抜ける. 気がつく. 気をつける. 問題を解く. 手が届く. 荷物を届ける.
(This is also reinforced by reading/consuming Japanese)
At some point, using the wrong particle will just feel wrong.
but the ones you listed were the most difficult ones to get an intuition for, so you‘re not alone


The examples you show above do not fall into any of the easily recognizable categories that can help to determine transitivity. I remember reading in another thread on this subject that for verbs following the ~う/~える pattern, like your examples, there is a general rule of thumb that the ~う version represents the ‘main’ meaning, and the ~える version represents the ‘other’ meaning. This is highly subjective, but for the examples above I find it works more or less. When talking about extracting or solving, you are generally talking about extracting or solving a specific thing, and not just the action in general. So the main meaning is transitive. For 届く you would need to think about it as to arrive, and then it makes sense that the intransitive version is the main meaning. For 付く both could work, but Japanese seems to favour intransitive meanings more often if both could work.

I have no idea how much of this is pure coincidence and how much of this follows actual reasoning though. Another valid approach is to assume all ~える verbs are transitive, and learn the exceptions by heart, or to just ignore the whole thing altogether and count both as correct.

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This is the way honestly. When you read it in context it’s hard to mess up. Speaking though is a different story.


Thanks everyone for the replies!!! It’s kinda weird, but when I’m reading, for some reason I naturally get the gist of what version is what. Also with implications like を/が. But as soon as they appear at WaniKani, I mess them up so often, that they appear a lot in my reviews. :sweat_smile:

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Thanks, I will buy this for sure!!!

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One reason why it’s difficult for me to remember which one is which is that they don’t come up in my reviews one after another. Do you know if there is a way to be quizzed on verbs only, or to have the verbs listed, or something like that?

Sorry for the late reply! I mean there are scripts out there, but I don’t know if you can do the verbs first with them.

Usually け(掛る), す(燃や), め(集る) verbs are transitive and come in sets of intransitive-transitive かーけ るーす まーめ. Knowing that, you can remember all other verbs, that don’t follow the pattern as exceptions.

Could you please explain the pattern some more, I’m confused.

You seem to say keru, su, and me verbs are transitive but then you list the pattern the other way around. Which one is true?

Some examples you could look at to get an idea about what was being suggested are 下がる/下げる, 上がる/上げる, 直る/直す, 映る/映す.


Sorry, my bad, I hadn’t matched my explanation with the order of the example pairs. I’ll edit my post.
Basically, it’s what @mgrice said.

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Thank you all for your replies. I now understand better. :slight_smile:

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