Raise, Rise, Fall, and Hang

I’m brand new, and I’m really struggling with the following SUPER similar vocabulary:

  1. 下がる
  2. 下げる
  3. 上がる
  4. 上げる

I always remember the below and above kanji as well as the readings, but remembering the difference between raise/rise and lower/to get lower has been AWFUL for me. Between the multiple meanings listed on Wani Kani and from looking them up on Jisho to see if I could find any other helpful little nuggets, I’ve come up with remembering 下げる as to hang and 上げる as to raise, noting that they both get the long a (ā) sound from げ. げ = GE --> AGEru, SaGEru, Hang, Raise. And then I can theoretically remember “the other ones.” But I’m wondering if anybody has a different way of thinking about this and would be willing to share how they got through this and maybe impart some wisdom for when I inevitably run into an issue like this again.


Hello and welcome, this is called verb transitivity, it’s pretty neat, and there is indeed a pattern with this one, with the last vowel before る, え being you doing the action, and あ the action happening, here’s some reading


The article went a little bit over my head, but thankfully I think I got it for the most part. Maybe you can tell me if I can understanding correctly? 下げる and上げる are transitive verbs that take a direct object. So if I wanted to translate “I lowered the flag” to Japanese for example, I would use 下げる. However, if I wanted to translate “The plant fell,” I’d use 下がる because it doesn’t have a direct object.

That is confusing for raise and rise though because in English, both of those verbs are flexible “I raised my hand.” vs. “the temperature rose”, so the challenge then becomes remembering which one is meant to be intransitive by wanikani. Their first choice for meaning is “to rise,” but even that can be used as a transitive verb in English as in “to rise the dough.” Either way, this article was super duper helpful in learning about transitive and intransitive verbs in English and Japanese. Now I just need to know how to recognize them in Japanese, which is hard because I’m brand new and have almost no exposure.

I understand this is kind of long and rambly. I’m trying me best to really get it.


I’m not sure what you mean by that. In your sentences there “raise” is transitive and matches あげる and “rise” is intransitive and matches あがる.

手をあげる I raise my hand
温度があがる the temperature rises

The bread example is basically a different definition altogether that only applies in a limited context.


Sometimes knowing English first just makes the job harder, right? I think I was just thinking too hard and reading too far into the resource that was shared with me; being exposed to transitive vs. intransitive really has helped.

Is there a way to recognize in Japanesse that a given verb is transitive or intransitive? For example will transitive verbs always get げる while intransitive verbs always get がる?
(I didn’t get those backwards did I…?)

That’s not the only type of transitive / intransitive formation, but IIRC, if one of a pair ends with ある (as in before the る there is an あ sound, which is what がる has) then that one in the pair is intransitive. And if one of the pair ends with す, that one will be transitive… I think those are the most generally applicable rules.

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I would not say it like that at all. The only pattern I might be willing to suggest learning is that verbs that end with す are more likely to be transitive: https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Japanese/Grammar/Transitivity

The ‘eru’ rule is not a rule, and might confuse people especially when they reach the potential form conjugations, which don’t take a direct object.

That said, once you start interacting with real Japanese, you’ll notice it’s not so difficult to spot which is which – the only problem would be learning which is its (in)transitive buddy, which a good dictionary can help you with.

@jkube819 If it helps, I struggled with these in the beginning too, and after awhile it just clicked in as a natural pattern and helped inform future WK items for me. The grammar rules certainly help, but if don’t grasp those right away, the WK system will help you absorb it organically.

I have to tell you, that you are not alone!!!

I just Burned these items. I could NOT believe it said “Burned” afterward. My mouth was agape. These have been the bane of my existence since I started WaniKani. I have had trouble with them for over 6 months and then I burned them?! So, don’t give up! It will happen!

I will say the け is when you are doing the action and the か is for the action happening.
Like 上げる, is when You or someone is doing the raising. 上がる is when the object is rising (like the sun, or bread).

You’ll get! Hey, I even got it!

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Like I’ve said above, this is not a good rule to go by. It might work in the case of 上げるー上がる and 下げるー下がる, but that’s just one pattern out of many. The sound ‘eru’ may be for either transitive or intransitive, depending on the verb.

However, ‘aru’ will usually be for intransitive, and ‘su’ will usually be for transitive.

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Keyword being: “with this one” I know this isn’t a rule but just a neat thing to remember those 4 horrible vocabs in the beginning, and I wasn’t about to explain the ins and outs of transitivity considering there are far more leebos knowledgeble people here ^^ and that I don’t know them either

Language makes sense over time. Just study it until you remember it.
What I did to differentiate between these four was to associate the drop radical in が with an action or emotion.
下がる contains the drop radical so its to drop
上がる contains the drop radical so its to rise (from bed because your drowsy)

Aside from what’s mentioned above re: transitive/intransitive verbs, I tried to make up mini-mnemonics for vocab with similar meanings.

With 下がる & 上がる, I thought of が as an exclamation as in ‘gah’, because these are the passive verbs, when you see something fall/lower or rise and you’re surprised because you are not directly causing these actions to happen as in 上げる, 下げる - so you exclaim ‘gah’ because the action is happening without your doing.

I feel like over time, by volition of the shear volume of vocab.verbs that you’ll go through the patterns will become ingrained over time, so early on mnemonics/tricks like this help out a lot.


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