Re: 代わる vs 代える

So I just got to 代える and wasn’t sure how it differentiated from 代わる. From the context sentences the only thing I can tell is different (in english) is 代わる doesn’t take any indirect objects in those examples at least, while 代える can.

I did find 代える vs. 代わる when looking for an explanation, but this explanation doesn’t make sense to me, or is wrong? (Or using the wrong words to describe what’s happening maybe?)
It claims 代わる is an intransitive verb, but ‘replace’ doesn’t have an intransitive form: Replace | Definition of Replace by Merriam-Webster is the dictionary page for it.

Additionally in all of the context sentences provided by WK, 代わる takes a direct object (i.e. is transitive) and I can’t craft any english sentences in my head that would have ‘to replace’ operate as an intransitive verb. (hence me looking it up in the dictionary).

Is it that 代える allows for an indirect object, and 代わる doesn’t? e.g. “I replaced x with y” requires 代える but “I replaced the lightbulb” can be either?

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I don’t see that in any of them.

もしよければ、代わりましょうか

The object is omitted, but presumably it would be あなた marked by に, which would be intransitive.

王子は、けん玉に代わるあたらしいあそびを見つけた。

Here the object of 代わる is けん玉 and you can see that it’s an indirect object with the に marker.

私はスティーブ・ジョブズに代わる天才を探しています。

Again we have スティーブ・ジョブズに, an indirect object.

I take it when you said they are all transitive, you were talking about the English sentences? There need not be any relation between how a verb is translated and its transitivity in the original language.

The fact that “replace” is transitive doesn’t mean anything with regard to 代わる.

The verb 分かる is usually translated as “to understand” in English, a transitive verb. But 分かる is intransitive, and it doesn’t take a direct object.

How much Japanese grammar study have you done to this point? If what I’m saying doesn’t make much sense, it might make more after studying more grammar.

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To add, in Japanese, when working with transitive verbs, を marks the direct object. On the other hand, に is used to mark the indirect object in these sentences (which can be used for both the transitive 代える and the intransitive 代わる).

Notice that in the 代わる example sentences, something is being replaced (marked by に), while in the 代える sentences someone is replacing something (marked by を) with something else (marked by に).

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This is correct. Assuming English grammar applies to Japanese words will lead you astray. 代わる is intransitive with a meaning similar to “to change” or “to be exchanged.” But relying on the passive form in English to describe a Japanese intransitive is also a crutch, though one that WaniKani often uses for lack of a better option when distinguishing transitive/intransitive pairs.

A large fraction of Japanese verbs appear in transitive/intransitive pairs. I highly recommend looking through the description on Imabi that teaches you how to recognize them and understand their grammar.

I know this may not be a direct answer to your question but knowing this information may help wrap your head around transitive/intransitive form.

Let me try to lay down the groundwork for where many (but not all) transitive/intransitive pairs come from. Before I begin though, I want to say that 代える and 代わる are actually an exception to the rule so let’s stick with a pair you know well at a low level. 上がる and 上げる.

The root verb of intransitive verbs is ある (有る)
The root verb of transitive verbs is する.

Obviously verb pairs are not a perfect formula but, if one of the two pairs of verbs ends in (X)a-ru (がる, かる, まる, etc) then there is a high chance it’s the intransitive form. So 上がる is the intransitive form. By that logic, 上げる has to be transitive.

Also, if a verb ends in す or is just a する verb, it will (9 times out of 10) be a transitive verb because it retains a part of the original verb する. A good example of this perfect pair is 渡す (わたす) being transitive and 渡る (わたる) being intransitive.

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Thank you for your time and the explanation/help!

Yes, I was basing off the English translations. Unfortunately I’m only at chapter two in Genki (had a major depressive streak and it was keep up WK or do nothing). And I don’t know enough Japanese to make sense of the context sentences. So I try to get by with their English translations. But I do definitely recognize that languages aren’t codes for each other, and translations aren’t 1-1.

I am now confused about transitivity and objects in Japanese, but I’m going to ask for clarification either in a separate reply, or separate thread since it’s no longer about the context for these words.

Once again, thank you so much for your time!

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Thank you! That context difference makes sense to me.

As mentioned in my reply right above though I’m going to start another thread asking for clarification on objects.

Thank you for your help!

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Thank you for that link! I read through it, but I’m confused about what I’ve understood from it, and from y’all with regards to objects and their relationship to transitivity classification of verbs.

Thank you so much for this break down! I’m sure this will come in handy!

There is a quite thorough article on this topic on Tofugu:

I found this quite insightful. Just don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with this if you don’t understand or remember everything at once! Many of these concepts need a while (and a bunch of re-reads) before they fully sink in.

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It’s a nice article, except for the very last section. I don’t understand why they try to make it sound like none of the verb pair patterns are reliable when two of the patterns are extremely reliable.

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