第237課: Intransitive & Transitive: Part 3

In this third lesson on verbs with both intransitive and transitive usages, we’ll continue to uncover peculiarities in Japanese at the individual word basis. 

する, 増す, 働く, 引く


する is the most important verb in the Japanese language as we have already learned due to how many usages it has and how important those usages are to the entirety of the language. Unsurprisingly, its usages can be classified as either being intransitive or transitive in nature.

As an intransitive verb, する can demonstrate a sense being sensed, in some state (often with onomatopoeia), show the worth of something (as in price), or the elapse of time (with time phrases).

1. アテモヤは砂糖(ざとう)煮詰(につ)めたリンゴのような(あじ)がします。
The atemoya has a flavor like that of an apple boiled down in sugar.

Spelling Note: Ringo is seldom spelled as 林檎.

2. ()がぐるぐると(まわ)るような眩暈(めまい)がした。
I got dizzy as if my eyes were spinning.

3. 耳鳴(みみな)りがするとお()けが(がわ)にいるって本当(ほんとう)ですか。
Is it true that a ghost is next to you when your ears ring?

4. 背後(はいご)強烈(きょうれつ)爆発音(ばくはつおん)がした。
There was the sound of an intense explosion in the background.

5. しばらくしてから()きましょう。
Let’s go after a little while.

Spelling Note: しばらく is sometimes written as 暫く.

6. このネックレスはいくらしたの?
How much was this necklace?

Spelling Note: いくら is seldom spelled as 幾ら.

7. (せま)くて(いき)()まるような(かん)じする。
I feel cramped.

8. 日焼(ひや)けしちゃった。
I got sunburned.

As a transitive verb, its primary meaning is “to do.” Aside from its complex grammatical usages that happen to be transitive, it can be used to show occupation, mean “to play (a game/sport/etc.),” “to wear (an accessory)", or even “to be...(shaped)/to have a…(face)/etc.” when describing appearances.

9. (なに)をしたらいいでしょうか。
What should I do?

10. ここは、代々(だいだい)パン()をしている老舗(しにせ)です。
This here is an old bakery past down for generations.

11. 手袋(てぶくろ)をしなさい。
Please wear your cloves.

12. (かれ)(なが)(かみ)をしている。
He has long hair.

13. ()(もの)でもしようか。
How about we shop or something?

14. (ぼく)(つと)めている会社(かいしゃ)にパチンコをする(ひと)数人(すうにん)いました。
There were several people who play pachinko at the company where I work.

15. 惑星(わくせい)ってどんな(かたち)をしているんですか。
What sort of shape do planets have?

16. (へん)(かお)しないでよ。
Don’t make weird faces.

Spelling Note: 為る may very well be the Kanji for “to do,” but it is no longer used in regular writing. If, though, you feel compelled to know how in its truly transitive sense of “to do” is spelled in Kanji, then this is how.


増す is a literary verb that means “to increase.” In this regard, it is very similar to the intransitive/transitive verb pair 増える and 増やす. 増える, unlike 増す, is commonly used in both the written and spoken language. It, though, can have emotion attached to it whereas 増す is only used in an objective sense. However, unlike 増す, it cannot be used to express (dramatic) increase in degree (See Exs. 17, 18, and 21).

17. プミポン国王(こくおう)喪失(そうしつ)で、タイの将来(しょうらい)への不安(ふあん)()している。
With the loss of King Bhumibol, suspense over Thailand’s future is massing. 

18. 極右政党(きょくうせいとう)(いきお)いを()している。
The far right political party is gathering strength.

19. 日本(にほん)では高齢者(こうれいしゃ)人口(じんこう)()している。
In Japan, the elderly population is increasing.

20. 前日(ぜんじつ)大雨(おおあめ)(かわ)水嵩(みずかさ)()して、(かわ)氾濫(はんらん)した。
In the heavy rain the other day, the river’s banks enlarged, causing the river to inundate.

21. 地震波(じしんは)は、(ふか)さと(とも)速度(そくど)()している。
The seismic waves are increasing in depth as well as speed.

22. 研究人(けんきゅうじん)人数(にんずう)()えた。
The number of researchers has increased.

23. 交通事故(こうつうじこ)(かず)()えているのは何故(なぜ)だろうか。
Why is that the number of traffic accidents is increasing?

24. 強盗(ごうとう)()えてきているため、宝石店(ほうせきてん)などでは厳重(げんじゅう)防犯対策(ぼうはんたいさく)必要(ひつよう)です。
Because robberies have risen, strong crime prevention measures are necessary at places such as jewelry stores.

増やす is used in the sense of “to increase the number of (resources).” When used in the sense of “to increase (fortune/animals/plants)” as in promulgation, it is often spelled as 殖やす. When this meaning is used in an intransitive sense, 殖える can be used.

25. 相続財産(そうぞくざいさん)が{()えて・()えて}いきます。
Your inheritance will increase.

26. 商品(しょうひん)種類(しゅるい)()やすことで、カナダでの()()げを()ばしたいと(おも)います。
By increasing the variety of merchandise, I would like to expand sales in Canada.

27. 生物(せいぶつ)種類(しゅるい)()やしていきたいと(おも)います。
I would like to increase the diversity of living things.

28. 不動産(ふどうさん)活用(かつよう)して財産(ざいさん)()やす。
To increase assets by utilizing real estate.


As an intransitive verb, 働く means “to work” or “to function.” As a transitive verb, it means “to perpetrate.”

29. 中国(ちゅうごく)では、出稼(でかせ)労働者(ろうどうしゃ)(おお)くは、工場(こうじょう)などで(はたら)いているようです。
In China, a lot of migrant workers seem to work at places like factories.

30. 上司(じょうし)不正(ふせい)(はたら)いていることにたまたま()づいてしまいました。
I’ve incidentally noticed that my boss is committing fraud.

Spelling Note: たまたま is seldom spelled as 偶々.

31. 悪事(あくじ)(はたら)いても(なに)(かん)じないという(ひと)(すく)ない。
There are few people who don’t feel anything from having committed an evil deed.

32. 息子(むすこ)(ぬす)みを(はたら)いているとは(かんが)えたくなかった。
I didn't want to think that my son was committing robberies.


As a transitive verb, ひく can mean a variety of things with just as many ways to spell it. 引く just happens to be the most basic way to spell it. As an intransitive verb, it simply means “to ebb/fade.”

33. くじを()いてみました。
I tried drawing a lot.

Spelling Note: くじ may also be spelled as 籤.

34. 参加者(さんかしゃ)()()いていました。
It had been drawing the participants’ attention.

Spelling Note: When used to mean “to attract/captivate,” ひく is usually written as 惹く.

35. 先日(せんじつ)風邪(かぜ)を引きました。
I caught a cold the other day.

36. {まっすぐに(せん)直線(ちょくせん)}を()いてください。
Please draw a straight line.

Spelling Note: まっすぐ may alternatively be spelled as 真っ直ぐ.

37. 辞書(じしょ)()いてください。
Please consult a dictionary.

38. 3(さん)から2()()くと、1(いち)になります。
When you subtract 2 from 3, you get 1.

39. カードを()いてください。
Please draw a card.

40. (ねつ)()いてから2、3(みっ)()外出(がいしゅつ)(ひか)えてください。
Refrain from going out for two to three days after the fever has receded.

41. 潮が()いたら(ある)いて(わた)れます。
You can walk across once the tide has ebbed away.

42. 孫氏(そんし)長年(ながねん)政治(せいじ)表舞台(おもてぶたい)を{引退(いんたい)している・退(しりぞ)いている/退()いている}。
Mr. Sun has retired from the center stage of politics for many years.

Spelling Note: When used to mean “to draw back/retire,” ひく is often written as 退く but it becomes indistinguishable from the verb しりぞく, which is far more common and used for the same purpose.

43. ()(にく)自分(じぶん)()きたいのですが、どんな(にく)用意(ようい)すればいいでしょうか。
I’d like to mince ground meet by myself, but what sort of meat should I prepare?

Spelling Note: When used to mean “to saw/mince,” ひく is usually written as 挽く.

44. コーヒー(まめ)を{()く・()く}と、いい(かお)りがします。
Coffee grains have a good scent when you grind them.

Spelling Note: When used to mean “to grind/mill,” ひく is often written as 挽く. It may also be traditionally written as 碾く.

45. 抹茶(まっちゃ)はなぜ石臼(いしうす)で{()く・()く}んですか。
Why is it that you grind matcha in a stone mortar?

Culture Note: 抹茶 is powdered green tea.

46. (わたし)自転車(じてんしゃ)()って直進(ちょくしん)していたところ、(まえ)からきた左折(させつ)する(くるま)()かれました。
As I was riding straight ahead on my bicycle, I was knocked down by a car turning left which had come from ahead.

Spelling Note: When used to mean “to run over (with a vehicle)", ひく is usually spelled as 轢く.

47. ピアノを()けますか。
Can you play the piano?

Spelling Note: When used to mean “to play (a string instrument)", ひくis spelled as 弾く.

Spelling Notes: ひく may seldom be spelled as 曳く with a nuance of “to tow.” This is especially the case with towing boats, which may be expressed alternatively with the verb 曳航する. When used to mean “to pull/drag ahead,” ひく may seldom be spelled as 牽く. In this sense of “traction/hauling,” the verb 牽引する would be far more common.