Better transitive/intransitive review method

I’m not a fan of the question asking you to pick the opposite transitivity verb, mostly because Bunpro has drilled into us to use the verb in the brackets in the answer. I think instead you should put both the transitive and intransitive verbs in the brackets like [下がる•下げる] so it’s clearer that you have to pick one.


@Jake Did you have any thoughts on this suggestion?


Thank you for the suggestion. That is indeed something we should look into. I can definitely see where there would be confusion with the provided verb always being the one to use, but that not being the case for these sentences.

I believe our goal here was to force the user to produce the transitive/intransitive verb. We will give it some thought and see if there is a way to reduce the confusion but still force the production.


Right now, the user is simply required to have memorized the two verbs in a random verb pair. This doesn’t really test knowledge of transitivity since they know to always use the one you don’t give. If you give both verbs, the user still has to know which is transitive and which is intransitive, and they have to know which one is used with が and which one is used with を.


transitive by definition must have an object (を).


Yes obviously, but the purpose of the grammar point is to help reinforce that for people who don’t know it as well as you and I do.


I found this video very helpful :
One issue is that there are not really “transitive” and “intransive” verbs., there are “self-moving” verbs related to ある and “other-moving” verbs related to する.
Starting from here there are three /Four basic patterns which she describes:
す (and せる)ending is always “other moving” (think する)
あ stem + る = self moving (think ある)
え stem + る = flips from one to another.
I’m still a bit confused on this, but it is true there is not nearly enough info on how these changes are made.
This should definitely be upgraded.



I posted in another thread specific to the grammar point (Transitive - Intransitive Verbs - Grammar Discussion), but I have a question for other users: what do you think is the best way to make progress on the transitive/intransitive reviews in the current state?

I keep failing some of these reviews because I don’t know all the “other” verbs, and it doesn’t even feel like I’m really practicing the grammar… Should I just make a list of the verbs in the example sentences, and rote learn those pairs? I do generally understand how both types are used, and can sometimes recognise which is which when both are shown…but I’m generally terrible at rote learning :sweat_smile:


This was (and still occasionally is) one of the most frustrating parts of learning Japanese for me. For almost every other grammar point, there is a general rule, but for transitive vs intransitive, there isn’t. It’s literally a case of learning the vocabulary as separate words rather than variants of the same word - yes, I appreciate that this is very challenging!
So yeah maybe create an Anki deck or make your own flashcards or something. Good luck!


I have some good news for you― there actually is!
@alarswilson’s post already outlined it, but I’ve compiled a quick list of examples to help.
Taken from a post I made on the Wanikani forums a while back:


Verbs that end with ~ある sounds are almost always intransitive, just like ある is intransitive.

  • 上がる
  • 下がる
  • 分かる
  • 代わる
  • 止まる
  • 当たる
  • 回る
  • 決まる
  • 助かる
  • 終わる
  • 転がる

Verbs that end with ~す (or ~せる) are almost always transitive, just like する is transitive.

  • 出す
  • 正す
  • 写す
  • 申す
  • 足す
  • 直す
  • 回す
  • 思い出す
  • 見直す
  • 話す
  • 欠かす
  • 表す
  • 返す
  • 通す

These are all vocabulary words from the first 10 levels in WK. In those 10 levels, the only exceptions to these trends that I see are (coincidentally both in Level 10):

  • 語る (transitive)
  • 配る (transitive)

It can even be argued that 語る and 配る aren’t truly exceptions, because they don’t have counterpart verbs to pair with (i.e. there is no intransitive “version” of these words, unless you count their own passive forms).

Oh, and if a verb ends with ~える, its transitivity depends on its partner verb (meaning ~える verbs can be either transitive or intransitive). There are so many ~ある verbs though, that it seems ~える verbs tend to be transitive more often than not.


I also find that verbs that don’t fit these patterns (~ある・~す, ~せる・~える) are surprisingly easy to guess correctly. Take 買う for example, and imagine what’s more common to say: “I sold X,” or “X sold?” Obviously, the former sounds more common. That’s the transitive use of the verb, and not surprisingly, 買う is… transitive.


@Kai Awesome post! I have linked your post to the readings section for transitive/intransitive verbs. Cheers!


This is great. I generally do expect that if a word ends in す it is transitive and if it ends in ある then it’s intransitive, but I had no idea there were so many. the ones that have been doing my head in recently are ones ending in ~ける like 解ける、解く and 傾ける、傾く. I can’t seem to get them the right way round…


Since ~える verbs depend on their partner verb, let’s focus solely on 解く and 傾く:

傾く (かたむく) means “to lean against/towards.” Which usage sounds more common, “X is leaning towards Y” (intransitive) or “I leaned X against Y” (transitive)? I think that the former is by far more common, and lo and behold… 傾く is intransitive!

Next is 解く (とく), which means “to solve/untangle/comb.” Which usage sounds more common, “I solved/untangled/combed Y” (transitive) or “X was solved/untangled/combed” (intransitive)? I think this verb is much more commonly/readily used transitively, and 解く is, in fact, transitive :slight_smile:

傾ける is then transitive, and 解ける is intransitive.


So, you can think of ~える verbs as “secondary” verbs, whose partner verbs are more favored and heavily-used (i.e., the “primary” of the transitivity pair).


@Kai I didn’t see this message – thank you, that’s helpful :slight_smile:

For my part I already watched the CureDolly video a few weeks ago (super helpful), and these are patterns I have been seeing on WK. So recognising which is transitive/intransitive is something I can kind of do, but producing the “other” verb based on seeing only one is something I’m still kind of terrible at right now…

@Pushindawood (sorry for my ignorance – are you a Bunpro admin?)
I do still think the original post in this thread would be better suited for practicing how to use these pairs: if we had to choose both the correct verb and particle to complete the sentence, it would be more like some of the other grammar points. Only one would make sense in context.
For most other reviews I’ve seen so far, we’re shown a verb in brackets and asked to do something with it (including adding the correct particles sometimes) – we’re not asked to produce it from memory.

And it would be a nice way to learn the pairs in context, instead of rote learning from a list like it looks like I’m going to have to do… I’ve learnt quite a lot of words from the exercises on BunPro, even if I’m not expected to produce them out of thin air. :sweat_smile:


Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut for this… you just have to know vocab more thoroughly. That being said, I think it does get easier once you realize that ~える verbs are merely flipping their partner verb, since that incentivizes you to pay more attention to the pairs themselves.

For example, I remember I used to struggle with 焦げる a lot (こげる, “to be burned”) until I realized its pair is 焦がす. Ending with ~す like this means 焦がす has to be transitive (like する), and 焦げる is then pigeonholed into being intransitive :upside_down_face:


Yeah I totally understand what you’re saying but honestly how often do we hear 傾く in daily conversation? I don’t think I ever have :joy:
Therefore on these two specific examples I think I’ve remembered them fairly well now, but there are countless others that I’m probably going to come up against at some point in the future - therefore I think it’s going to be one of those points that’s going to be a constant thorn in my side until forever :rofl:


That’s entirely besides my point, though― when I ask myself this question (“which transitivity seems more useful/applicable than the other?”) I’m thinking generally/broadly, like “which verb (transitive or intransitive) would be more likely to enter into a language first?” It has absolutely nothing to do with how often I’ve actually encountered the verb(s) in my target language.


Ah yeah I see what you mean


How does this pattern work with 付く・付ける or 届く・届ける? Neither seems more common than the other. I had to memorize them to get it right…


I think you’ve actually found exceptions to my strategy!
Can’t say I’m surprised, though. Languages always have exceptions, don’t they? :upside_down_face:


I think I probably got used to these verbs back when I just blindly associated ~える endings with “transitive.” Still, it doesn’t hurt to think critically about these for a moment:

I think it makes sense for 届く to be intransitive because its transitive version (“to deliver ◯”) can often be substituted with other verbs, like “to give,” “to send,” or “to gift” etc. But once something has actually showed up, an intransitive verb for “deliver” is almost always an appropriate receiving action for all of those verbs. So, 届く gets this intransitive meaning and 届ける then takes a backseat.


This is honestly the most curious verb pair anyone’s brought up, which is funny because it’s also probably one of the simplest and most frequently-encountered ones. Even when I search for expressions/sayings using つく and つける, we get:

That’s 5,560 results for 付く (intransitive), and over 9,000 for 付ける (transitive). That’s pretty contrary to all my expectations :man_shrugging: