In this fourth lesson on verbs with both intransitive and transitive usages, we’ll continue to uncover peculiarities in Japanese at the individual word basis.
As a transitive verb, 持つ means “to hold/possess/have.” As an intransitive verb, it means to keep (as in perishable goods) or “to be durable (as in the body).” As an intransitive verb, it is usually spelled as もつ.
Everyone holds responsible for his own actions.
I have a brand wallet.
At this rate, my body won’t last.
Once you've made miso soup, about how many days is it good for?
馳せる has almost entirely disappeared from Modern Japanese, but its grammar is interesting. In the physical sense, it either means “to hurry/run to…” or “to ride…fast.” Nowadays, the verb is usually limited to set phrases like 思いを馳せる (to give more than a passing thought to…).
He ran for Yoritomo’s side.
Horses came running from the direction of the castle.
The warriors shot arrows as they raced their horses.
I’ve been thinking nostalgically upon my living in America.
Haneru as an intransitive verb means “to jump/leap/splash,” and as a transitive verb it means “to splash/hit (with a car)/reject” among other things. Traditionally, the intransitive form is spelled as 跳ねる and the transitive form is spelled as 撥ねる. Usually, though, 跳ねる or はねる will work.
Grammatically speaking, the intransitive form cannot be used in certain forms such as the passive. In such instances, the transitive form must be used.
I was deep-frying food when oil splashed up and got in my eyes.
Fish are leaping up from the sea.
That car splashed mud from the muddle over the pedestrian(s).
Mud splashed onto my best clothes.
I got wet from being splattered with water by a car.
I ran over a log of some sort while driving.
A male security officer passed away from being ran over.
To exclude defective products in inspection.
Spelling Note: Hanenokeru may be spelled as 撥ね除ける.
In addition to the meanings mentioned above, the transitive 撥ねる may also be used to mean “to point up/add a hook.” This is typically in reference to things like mustaches or the hooks on characters.
The Kanji "干" when written with a hook becomes “于,” a separate character.
The transitive 撥ねる also has the meaning “to make nasal.” This is in reference to sound changes in Japanese that result in sounds being turned into ん.
We nasalize “shinite” as “shinde.”
The transitive haneru also has the meaning of “to behead.” Although typically spelled as はねる, its traditional spelling is 刎ねる.
Word Note: Kubi may refer to the head along with the neck. This comes from the fact that the neck is the point of severing in a beheading. Historically, 頸 should be the character for neck because 首 refers to the head in Chinese. In anatomy, the head is often referred to as 頭部（とうぶ） while the neck is referred to as 頸部（けいぶ）.
開ける is unique in that it traditionally creates an intransitive/transitive verb pair with 開かる. From appearances alone, 開かる should be the intransitive form and 開ける should be the transitive form, but now, 開ける can be used as both to mean “to open (one’s clothes) to expose (one’s chest).” Although not limited to the chest, it can be used to indicate clothing no longer covering some part of the body.
Even if you move your legs, there’s no worry of your cuffs being exposed.
Wearing is difficult, and there is also the fear of your chest becoming exposed.
He undid the buttons of his shirt and exposed his muscular chest.
One meaning that 開かる doesn’t share with 開ける is “to obstruct/block (the way),” and in this sense, it is usually seen in the compound verb 立ちはだかる.
A large wall stands in the way in front of my eyes.
The verb 生じる means “to happen/occur/germinate.” For the most part, it is usually used as an intransitive verb. However, it can technically also be used as a transitive verb. This is possible when the subject of the verb can be viewed as the agent. Yet, many speakers don’t like the verb being used as a transitive verb if it’s not used in the causative form 生じさせる. This is why, as the example sentences demonstrate, there will always be a way to phrase out the transitive 生じる.
We discovered that buds sprout from the cells close to the surface.
Based on that difference, profit results from trade.
Mold grew on the tofu.
Spelling Note: Kabi may also be spelled as 黴.
There is a high probability of suffering a loss.
This is one (of several) words that causes some confusion.
In ailments that cause problems in one’s respiration, there are few instances in which respiratory impairment is the only problem at hand.
We will be ale to get satisfactory sleep without causing any side effects.
To suffer from a severe illness that creates an impediment to one’s immune system.
Word Notes: There are several words for “illness.” Of these include 病気, 病い, 疾病, 疾患, and 患い.
疾病 is a clinical terminology for “illness.” 疾患 refers to ailments that bring about physical and or mental symptoms. 病気 is the more general term for “illness” used most commonly in the spoken language and in more subjective situations. 病い is the native word for “sickness,” but it takes on a personal tone to an ailment. Whereas 疾患 can refer to a medical state of function failure, 胸の病い would refer to personal suffering in the chest. The native equivalent of 疾患 is 患い and is even more emphatic than 病い, but it is more so used to refer to suffering of the heart. However, it is rarely used outside of literature.
踊る can be used to mean “to dance” in an intransitive or transitive sense. When used to mean “to pound/throb/jump,” it’s spelled as 躍る.
Let’s dance the waltz.
My heart is throbbing.
As an intransitive verb, 寄せる means “to surge (as in waves).” As a transitive verb, it means “to come/bring near.”
Waves are surging in the open sea.
He brought his mouth near to my ears and softly whispered.
Which do you like, people who are always furrowing their brows or people who always have a smile on their face?
The pit vipers were living under the clump of bushes today as well.
Spelling Note: Mamushi may also be spelled as 蝮.
Traditionally, 誤る was the intransitive version of 過つ, both revolving around expressing failure/mistake. Nowadays, 過つ is hardly used aside from its noun form 過ち (fault/indiscretion), and 誤る exists both as an intransitive and a transitive verb, but mostly a transitive verb aside from when 誤った is used similarly to 間違った (mistaken) before nouns.
Where have I gone wrong?
I made a mistake in handling (my phone) and accidentally deleted one of my contact’s phone numbers.
Do you not have a mistaken perception about acupuncture?
As an intransitive verb, 笑う means “to laugh,” but as a transitive verb it means “to laugh at/make fun of.” As a transitive verb, it can alternatively be spelled as 嗤う.
Do dogs also laugh?
I tried imagining the look of him happily laughing.
He who makes fun of one yen will cry at one yen.
The pot calls the kettle black.
We do (I/we) laugh in scenes where we ought not to laugh?
Tsutomeru has both intransitive and transitive nuances. They are conveniently spelled differently.
Intransitive Nuances: 勤める, 努める
Transitive Nuance: 務める
I work at a major company.
I’m striving to realize it.
I’m serving as a proxy/agent/representative.
There is also an intransitive 勤まる・務まる, which is used to mean “to be fit for (job/post).” In the case of a typical job, the former spelling is used. In the case of a typical post, the latter spelling is used.
Am I even fit (for the post)?
I’m far from fit (for the job).