So... transitive? Or not?

So 触る is listed as intransitive on wanikani, but the example sentence uses it like it’s transitive (上司がお尻を触った).

I was going to post in the bugs and errors forum about this, but stopped and thought I’d just google it, and… it is intransitive. It is listed everywhere (well, three different sites) as intransitive. But apparently it’s used with を marker sometimes?? If that is the case, why isn’t it listed as both? Can a verb be both? I had assumed some verbs could be both, but then why does everywhere list 触る as intransitive?

This has thrown my world in to chaos. I don’t know what to believe anymore. Please help.


I think it’s just a case of 触る being originally only intransitive, and now you’ll see it used both ways. Dictionary example sentences, because they are a bit less responsive to language changes, tend to use a lot of に and almost no を, but you will hear real people use を.

I wouldn’t sweat it.

This is different from other uses of を with intransitive verbs, like when you have intransitive verbs of movement. 道を渡る, 公園を走る, etc. But those are just other examples of を with intransitive verbs.

Rather than trying to remember the transitivity of every verb, studying verbs in their collocations is probably the best approach.


I found this:

Following that idea:

  • を触る is used for situations where there’s intent on touching.
  • に触る is used for both situations when there’s intent on touching and when there’s not and it happens by mistake.

Seems logical, idk :man_shrugging:


To be (transitive), or not to be, that is the question.

Sorry, I know that this joke is bad.

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