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07 September 2016 @ 11:23 am
Japanese verb confusion  
My last Japanese tutoring session was all about the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. In English, these tend to be the same verb--"The box moved," "I moved the box"--and when they're not people get confused, like with lay (transitive) and lie (intransitive).

In Japanese, they're almost always separate verbs. That first sentence up there would be 箱が動いた and the second would be 俺が箱を動かした, with the verbs 動く as the intransitive version and 動かす as the transitive one. A huge number of English verbs that are just one word with two senses are two words in Japanese, like "to burn" (燃える and 燃やす), "to begin" (始まる and 始める), or "to finish" (終わる and 終える). And often the intransitive version is the same as the passive in English, even though the passive is an entirely separate verb form. Both りんごが売れた and りんごが売られた can translate as "the apples were sold," though the first sentence could also read "the apples sold" and thus can be modified by adverbs, like りんごがよく売れた, "The apples sold well."

There's a whole giant list of them here if you're curious. It's part of what I used to make my flashcard set.

And that, of course, doesn't get into nuances of use that dictionaries don't always explain. During the lesson I tried to say 戦ってる子供を壊した, but it's wrong. I wanted to say that I broke up the fighting children, but 壊す means to smash a machine. The word I was looking for is 別ける. Similarly, 見つかる is intransitive and 見つける is transitive, but if you want to say that you couldn't find something, you'd use 見つかる. 見つける has connotations of volition, so that would be more like, "I didn't find it (because I gave up looking)."

And the expression for asking for someone else on the phone is Aさんに代わってください, which literally means, "Please changes places with A-san."

Languages are hard.
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