Understanding 掛かる

掛かる, as I’m sure you know already, has too many meanings to count.
Yes, I’m sure context would help, but that isn’t exactly easy when a word easily has over 30 different meanings. Is there a logical way to breakdown this verb, and how do I get used to reading it? Is the hard truth just memorise each and every meaning until I can cycle through the meanings effortlessly?


This reminds me of when I told my 先生 about my trip abroad and he asked me どのぐらいかかりましたか。 and I began to tell him the plane ticket price, and he corrected himself to say 時間はどのぐらいかかりましたか。

His question could be understood several ways, “How much did [the flight] cost” or “How long did [the flight] take”.

So yeah, tricky word. But in most cases it will be immediately clear from the context (which in my case could have been either price or time).


I would learn different uses of it one at a time. Learn a couple and use those in appropriate situations, test them out if you’re not sure. Then let your ear perk up if it comes up in an unexpected context and make note of it then.


I had always thought “to contract a disease” fell under 掛かる but this was incorrect (ex. インフルエンザにかかる) as there “attach/hook” quality to it but it’s actually 罹る which is usually written hiragana only and seems like a rare kanji. In fact, this probably doesn’t matter at all because I don’t see 掛かる spelled out with kanji consistently either and Jisho.org writes most of these listed as “usually kana only”.

Then there are transitive 掛ける version that don’t have intransitive counterpart like “to sit” (nor why should it) but somehow went into the “put/hold/attach” family of 掛ける along with a bunch of others like
“to gamble” and “to argue”. So all together, I’m seeing over 40 entries to keep track of :scream::sob: :triumph:


@Saida touched on this, but I think one of the best ways is to tackle words like these as a phrase rather than a single word with several meanings.

For example:
(amount of time/money/resources)がかかる
It takes one hour to get from Tokyo station to my place by train.

The world’s largest clock is hanging on that wall.

By doing this, each individual definition is conceptualized as an individual unit with an applicable format. I think this is explained better in this thread. It’s about making flashcards, but the idea is similar.

One more thing I’d add to this is tackle learning the each definition when you come across its application in a conversation or in writing rather than all at once.


I just remembered a line from a shounen manga


I can parse the meaning just fine but I don’t know exactly what this かかる is here.

Without knowing the context, I think it means ‘hang on to me and come’ or less literally ‘stay close to me and come’

I’ve usually seen it used as provocation for a fight like a “come at me” kind of thing.

Oh yeah, that does ring a bell

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