Transitive & Intransitive verbs (differences)

Hi there, I’m new to WaniKani. 私の名前はブライアンですよ。よろしくお願いします。

Sometimes these Transitive and Intransitive verbs confuse me. :thinking: Especially after reading the three Provided example phrases by WaniKani.
I’d appreciate if someone could explain it more clearly to me. :relieved:
切れる and 切る for example are somewhat differen, yet they kind of meen the same,right? 切れる is marked as an intransitive verb; there are no direct objects involved… correct?
So why is the third provided sentence for kikeru : “The knive cuts well.” ?
Isn’t the knive a direct object which literally cuts another object?

Few more examples to explain this would be appreciated. :smiley:

Thank you all for your time,


There’s no direct object in “the knife cuts well.” A direct object would be a thing being cut.

This meaning for 切れる (basically “to be sharp”) is a bit strange from what the page teaches you, since it’s not listed in the meaning section, but it’s an acceptable usage of the verb. As such, it’s not a great context sentence to have.


In that sentence, the knife is the subject. There is no object in this sentence. Well is a description, not an object being cut.

In the sentence: «I cut the meat» the meat is the object. Who cuts? I do - subject. What do I cut? The meat - object.


@BryanayrB Welcome to the Community!! :wave:
Grammar is not my strong point, I have struggled with this as well, but I’ll try to help.
Without going into too much detail… here are some notes and resources I have on this topic:

Summary - When verbs can be both intransitive and transitive:
Intransitive verbs indicate automatic or natural actions
Intransitive verbs can be with the particle を unless it works as direct object
(subject) が | ~ | (intransitive verb)
Ex: ドアが閉まる.

Transitive (volitional) verbs indicate intentional actions
Transitive verbs need objects set by the particle を
(subject は/が) | (direct object) を/が | (transitive verb)
Ex: ドアを閉める

Wasabi: Intransitive Verbs vs. Transitive Verbs
Cure Dolly on Transitivity and Intransitivity
WaniKani Community shared sheet in Google Docs


Ah, i see. Could you perhaps provide a sentence for me in which you would use this verb for instance ?
Thanks for explaining.

The other two sentences use the meanings that are taught, so they are fine.

And like I said, the third is an acceptable sentence, they just didn’t teach that meaning.


Ah i see, thank you for explaining. So in your example “ i cut the meat” we should use 切る instead of 切れる right ? Because the direct object (meat ) is being cut, so that would require an transitive verb.


Thanks! Big help :smiley:

I think I’m beginning to understand.

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It doesn’t seem like it caused the confusion in this case, but I’d also be careful thinking about the transitivity of Japanese verbs in terms of the English translation. The transitivity of Japanese verbs won’t always line up with how the sentence would be naturally translated in English. I can’t think of a great example off the top of my head, but it’s just a good thing to be aware of! :grin:


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