Whats more common Intransitive or passive verbs?

Do all verbs in Japanese have a transitive/Intransitive pairing? and is it more common to use an intransitive Pair verb than say the passive form of the transitive verb? ie 壊す、壊れる、壊される。

Thanks :slight_smile:

This kind of implies that they are always interchangeable. If there’s no external agent, then you can’t use the passive transitive form.

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Can a passive form of a verb be transitive? ie would I be able to use を with 壊される to say テレビを壊せた
Whats an agent exactly?


You said it yourself.

This form of the verb requires that someone or something external to the receiver does the action to the receiver of the action.

Things can break without some external agent breaking them.

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Not all verbs have a pairing.

For example:
自動詞 only: ある、来る、憧れる
他動詞 only: 殺す、読む、投げる

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So just to be clear テレビを壊せた is correct? but テレビが壊せた is incorrect?

Too make things Clearer could you write the television was broken using 壊す/壊れる/壊させる
So I can see what particles are used.


This is an entirely different question, isn’t it? That’s the potential form of 壊す. While there’s disagreement between strict grammarians about using を with the potential form, I don’t see the relation to this.

I broke the television

The television broke.

The television was broken by me.



The way you ask this questions implies that these two forms are interchangable. This confusion arises because in english it is very common for a verb to be able to be used transitivly or intransitivly:
I open the door.
The door opens.
(we can leave it to the linguist to argue whether those are two verbs with identical forms or the same verb with two usages)

An intransitive and a passive sentence do not describe the same situation.

In a transitive sentence:
[Agent - subject] → [does a verb - verb] → [to an object - Patient]

In the corresponding passive sentence:
[Patient - subject] → [has something done to it] → [by an Agent - (marked by に)]

The patient and agent “switch places”, the patient which is the direct object of the active voice sentence becomes the subject of the passive voice sentence.
But in both of these cases, there is a agent and a patient. They are just given different grammatical cases.

In an intransitive sentence there is only one “entity”, the subject:
[subject] → [undergoes change - verb]

So the verbs in a trans/intrans pair describe a different situation whether it is in the passive voice or not.

There is a complication here which is that there are two passive voice constructions that exist in japanese that are not available in english. The both are constructed from intransitive verbs and they are the “suffering passive” and the “direct object passive”. These do not have english equivalents.

There is another complication which is that there are edge cases where it is not semantically clear whether there is an agent present or not (in english). Also the above makes the most sense with action verbs.


Thanks I Think I understand now.


As my study of the English language it’s self is non exist and I learn through example. when It comes to explain why certain grammar is used in English… I don’t know. which makes it even harder when studying Japanese as I have to first figure out the grammatically correct way to say something in English before figuring it out in Japanese, and this leads to confusing others when asking questions as I’m all over the place. I mean my brain understands the gibberish I’m saying when asking questions because it’s use to me talking that way. but I can see now how for others that can be confusing. I’m sorry. In short I must study English grammar more in order to learn Japanese grammar more efficiently.

Is there a website where I can search for verbs and its shows the transitive/intransitive pair if it has one?


If you just take the main kanji (without okurigana) of the verb and search jisho it will show you all the words that start with that kanji. So you would see both the transitive and intransitive versions of the verb (if both exist).

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Thank you. In case anyone may find multiple intransitives when searching a kanji on jisho, you can use this list.
To further confirm. as it has over 700 verb pairs listed! Japanese_verb_derivation/independent.tsv at master · hiroshi-manabe/Japanese_verb_derivation · GitHub

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