Why is を used instead of が used?

Why is を used instead of が used?

We were in danger of losing our lives.

Wouldn’t the translation be were in danger of killing our selves?

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Not sure if you’re familiar or not with why that particular verb uses を, but just in case you’re not, aside from a very small few exceptions, transitive verbs (他動詞) require a direct object, marked with を.

Think about it this way.
The English sentence is: He lost his life.
He is the subject, lost is the verb, life is the direct object.
Would you translate this to “He killed himself.”?


命 is not the subject of the sentence, but the direct object.

Q: We are going to lose what?
A: Our lives.

The intransitive (自動詞) pairing that goes with 落とす is 「落ちる」. 落ちる uses は/が and does not take a direct object.

I fell.
I dropped the pen.

Unrelated to the question, I know, but

I don’t know why “were” is used in the translation.

To me, it should be “are.” I don’t see a reason to think the state ended in the past.



What I should of been clear in saying is that, to me the act of loosing ones life seems more of an intransitive act rather then a transitive one? unless they were going to commit suicide or something?

Intention or will doesn’t enter into the issue of transitivity. It’s no different from the English verb “to lose one’s life.”

You don’t try to lose your life, but we still use the word “lose.”

Are you aware that 落とす can literally mean “lose”?


Meaning #5

Example: 財布を落とした
I lost my wallet

This might mean that it was dropped somewhere, but that need not be the case. It could have just been left on a table or something, never having fallen from any height (as one might think from the meaning of the kanji).


who? 私達は we are (though in this case, the subject is known to the receiver, so it’s は instead of が)
what? 命を落とす lose our lives
危険がある danger exists

We are in danger of losing our lives. We might lose our lives.

If it’s from book or whatever, I’d assume it’s because English literature (overwhelmingly) tends to be written in the past tense, and Japanese literature tends to flip back and forth.

This is why I wish more people would provide context when they ask questions like this, but in this case, I just assumed he took this from a random Anki flashcard with this isolated sentence, because that’s typically where his questions stem from.

But maybe that wasn’t the case this time.

Are you not familiar with this phrase?

Was it not clear that my focus was the phrase

considering my question was

[quote=“Leebo, post:11, topic:33179”]
I just assumed he took this from a random Anki flashcard with this isolated sentence, because that’s typically where his questions stem from.
[/quote] This is not true

it’s a set phrase, kind of like 雨が止む、洗濯物を干す、メガネをはずす - you could, for example, say 洗濯物を乾かす, which wouldn’t be wrong per se, but it would sound odd. Yes, people would understand it. They’d probably figure out what you mean when you say 私たちの命が落ちる危険がある, but it would sound strange (it wouldn’t be correct either as a manner of speech, but that’s not a problem when speaking).

Where did it appear that I didn’t understand that you were talking about 命を落とす? I said "It’s no different from the English verb “to lose one’s life.”

I’m not sure what the point of your last post was.

It’s not a personal attack or something. I just get frustrated with contextless questions because so much can change based on context.

And it would still be interesting to know where it came from.

Not sure why you consider that transitive implies that it automatically means that you willingly do something.

命を落とす is just a fancy way to say “to die”. In English you can also say biting the dust (or to lose one’s life, as Leebo said), it doesn’t imply that you actively choose to do some biting :slight_smile:

Ok, I think I understand where your confusion is coming from. Transitive doesn’t necessarily imply desire or intention on the subject’s part. If you accidentally drop something you would still use 落とす to describe it even if you didn’t mean to do it and didn’t want to.

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I Never said anything about intention? if someone is killed there not the ones doing the killing. dropping a ball by mistake still requires the person to be interacting with that ball. being shot and losing ones life is not done by oneself but by the killer.

the "dropping"落とす/taking of his life that verb part.

is done to the subject

Which is why I asked

drop and fall were what caused me headaches for a while. ペンが落ちた。ペンを落とした。pens don’t rain from the sky, and they don’t fall down by themselves, i dropped it. if i did this intentionally or not doesn’t matter.
金がなくなった。金をなくした。in the first sentence the money just ran out, while in the second sentence, i lost it somewhere.

That sentance has an ommited subject. because it’s using を ie.私は ペンを落とした。makes sense。but.私はペンが落ちた wouldn’t make sense.

私達は命を落とした also dosn’t make sense as it’s using the direct object marker を instead of が

The fact that it’s using を would mean he dropped his own life.

落ちろ、落とす can’t be used here because, like i said, 落ちる cannot be the result of an action done to the object.

i omitted the 私は because i almost always do it, we don’t speak like that here, but let me give you the money example with full subject, object, verb.

俺は金をなくした (i lost my money!)
俺は金がなくなった (my money ran out!)

let’s just pretend we’d done it to switch the topic of the talk to what you did :wink:

You don’t have to be killed by someone to lose your life.

But the in the matter of を vs が in the sentence you mentioned, you only have one choice due to the way 落とす works. It simply is not grammatical to use が, even if you think the verb used shouldn’t be used.