Let's do lots of transitive/intransitive pair examples! 💪

Freaking out about transitive/intransitive 日本語 is everyone’s favorite pastime and simultaneously like, soooo passé, right?

Can we do a thread where we keep posting a bunch of simple sentence examples of transitive/intransitive pairs and their accompanying English translations so we can see the nuances and differences? Has this already been done on the forums before? (I tried searching :man_shrugging: ) I feel like I need this to hammer the understanding of transitive/intransitive into me… and to better remember which verb is which.

I’ll start, and I might be wrong/off with these sentences and translations, so I need all the glorious gurus out there to correct me probably:

始める ・ 始まる
あ、始めた。“Ah, they started it.” (transitive)
あ、始まった。 “Ah, it started.” (intransitive)

直す ・ 直る
これを直してください。“Please fix this.” (transitive)
これが直っているよ。“This is being fixed” or maybe “This is fixing itself” (??) (intransitive)

^Did I just open a whole can of wrong grammar worms? Are these even things people would say?

(Also, why does the fix kanji 直 appear to be missing the lion radical when I type it here?? Some font idiosyncrasy, perhaps?)

What are your examples? Let’s go! ヽ( ・∀・)ノ


直る is a verb that expresses a change of state, not an action that can be continuous. In the ている form, this type of verb takes on the meaning of “this state change occurred previously and is still in effect.” Which is kind of awkward, but it would mean that これが直っている would mean “This is fixed.”


Ah, thank you. I had a feeling what I wrote was wrong. I need to use that gut “this is wrong” feeling more often before pressing “enter” on reviews!


Eh, I think most people learn about this by making that mistake and being corrected.


This morning’s class was about (in)transitive pairs, so here are a couple:

蛇が編みかごに入る。“The snake will go into the basket.”
蛇を編みかごに入れる。“I will put the snake in the basket.”

蛇が編みかごをでる。“The snake will come out of the basket.”
蛇を編みかごから出す。“I will take the snake out of the basket.”

Not sure about から being the right particle to use in the last sentence.


Yeah, the last sentence looks fine to me.

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Woo, thank you! This helps me feel like I understand the difference so much better.

開ける ・ 開く
もう開けたよ。 “It was already opened [by someone.]” (transitive)
もう開いたよ。“It was already open.” (intransitive)

Is that right??


It is right, but I don’t think the sentence fully illustrates the difference. Adding a subject and/or object will make the difference much clearer, I think.

帰ったらドアはもう開いていた。When I came home the door was already open.
父が缶を開けてくれた。Dad opened the can for me.


Just got this one wrong in reviews, so let’s do another pair!

アップルストアの前に人が大勢並んでいます。A bunch of people are lined up in front of the Apple Store.
この店はクッキーが綺麗に並べてあります。This store has their cookies displayed prettily. (Does this sound natural?)

I almost got the transitivity wrong again, haha


Just wondering, is there a reason you used 缶 in the second sentence instead of ドア?


I wanted to say Dad opened a can. It would have been weird to use ドア in that case. Is 缶 not the right word?


Oh, I thought the point was to make sentences that are basically the same except for the transitivity. So: “When I came home the door was already open.” vs. “Dad opened the door for me.” But, I also thought that maybe there were different verbs for “open” to use for opening different types of things, so I just wanted to make sure that ドアを開ける was acceptable usage.


Your examples are much clearer for illustrating the difference between 開く and 開ける, thank you :joy:

But I also like having extremely simple examples handy in my mind because I feel like it helps me understand the differences in meaning faster when reading the verbs by themselves. I think it’s useful to have both types of examples; those that clearly show the difference with transitivity pairs and also examples that are simple/similar but point out the different nuance between the two words like what I did:

Anyone have any example sentences for 伝える and 伝わる? I’ll probably try writing some out in a day or two after I catch up on my sleep… :sleeping:

I communicated my feelings to that person.
My feelings reached (were understood by, were transmitted to, etc.) that person.

It’s a little tricky to make English sentences that express the same idea with similar grammar without being awkward.


there are a bunch of examples in this article that im too lazy to copy paste


Well I’m too lazy to open the article!!


気をつけないと、ステーキが焦こげる。If I’m not careful, the steak will get burnt.
気をつけないと、(私が)ステーキを焦こがす。If I’m not careful, I’ll burn the steak.


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