'to be decreased' as the primary meaning of 減る

減る currently has the primary meaning of ‘to be decreased’, yet in the context sentences it’s always translated simply as ‘to decrease’. It seems weird to have the primary meaning being what it is when it’s not usually used in this way. Jisho also gives a meaning of just ‘to decrease’.

I might guess that it is the way it is in order to emphasise that 減る is an intransitive verb, but this comes at the expense of having a meaning for the vocab which, well, is a little misleading at best. I don’t know, just my two cents.


It’s a bit awkward but they needed to distinguish the English translation with 減らす is my guess

Why can’t this one be ‘to decrease something’ instead, though? Since it’s transitive.

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It’s the same for many other intransitive verbs in WK. The primary meaning is chosen to make clear it’s intransitive, but the example sentences rarely use it verbatim because it’s unnatural in English.


But I mean OP just made a pretty fair point that they could just change 減らす to distinguish which one is transitive and which is intransitive by adding “something”.

Although I’ve always thought it silly that they have 2 items for something that just is basically a conjugation in the first place. For dictionaries its fine and might even make sense, but from a learning application perspective it seems like a poor use of a vocab item. Different problem though, so no point in getting off track I guess.

EDIT: I thought it was clear but apparently not, so for clarification I’m talking about causative conjugations that exist on wanikani like 減る 減らすand 怒る 怒らせる. Never said all transitive verbs are just a conjugation.

Transitive and intransitive pairs are definitely not “basically just a conjugation”. They’re completely separate words in Japanese. It’s just that English that usually cheats and tries to use the same word.


I’m taking about transitive verbs that follow causative conjugation rules on the intransitive verb…

減らす does have “To decrease something” as an alternative meaning, did you mean for it to be changed to the primary meaning?

In any case, I’ll forward this over to the content team and see if they want to make some changes to 減らす and 減る.

That would be my suggestion, yes: change the primary meaning of 減る to ‘to decrease’ and change the primary meaning of 減らす to ‘to decrease something’. There may be some nuance I’m missing, but from my naive point of view as someone encountering this stuff for the first time I feel it would make more sense for it to be taught in this way.

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I think it is better to have the main (displayed) definition as explicit and unambiguous as possible, even if not natural.


  • 減る = to be decreased
  • 減らす = to decrease something

“to decrease” should be allowed list for both.

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So it looks like 減る and 減らす had just slipped us by and there wasn’t really any particular reason for them to not follow the same pattern as other transitive/intransitive verbs. We made the change and now the following are the primary meanings:

  • 減る = to decrease / to be decreased / to get decreased
  • 減らす = to decrease something / to decrease / to reduce

Thanks again for your feedback!


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