Transitive - Intransitive Verbs - Grammar Discussion

Done through action vs. occuring on its own.

とす ・落 ちる → To drop・To fall
ける ・つ → To attach・To be attached

Transitive verbs are verbs that should be used with を (direct object marker), which indicates the object with which the verb “operates”
[“I drop the battery” - the operation is “dropping” and the object of the operation is “battery”. “I attach a ribbon.”]

Intransitive verbs do not need an object (marked by を) and describe the action someone/something is subjected to (without an agent)
[“The battery falls (by itself).” or “The ribbon is attached.”]

[There are some exceptions.]

View on Bunpro

1 Like

Hi, I have a question about this question:

Would this not be more accurately translated using the passive tense? If using as an intransitive verb, shouldn’t there be the absence of an object doing the action (i.e., the police)? So to be more accurate, the sentence should be expressed as, “the thief was caught”?

Hoping someone can set me straight. Thanks!


Hey and sorry for the late answer :bowing_man:

You are right! The sentence has been fixed!

Thank you for the feedback, and we are really sorry for the inconvenience :bowing_man:


No worries! Thanks for letting me know!


How are you supposed to know which is intransitive/transitive, and how do you make intransitive/transitive verbs? Just curious…


There’s a bit of helpful info here – don’t have to watch the video (which many find off-putting) as the article has some pretty good concise tips.

I also struggle with transitive and intransitive pairing but I figure it’s something that will probably become more natural as I consume more material. Is learning via osmosis a great study plan? Not sure but here I am praying that it is :pray:



I’ve recently added the “Transitive - Intransitive Verbs” grammar point to my reviews, and I’m constantly failing this point because of how these questions work: I’m expected to already know the “other” verb already.

Most tips I’ve seen around the internet about guessing which verb transitive and which is intransitive, are based on seeing both together…it’s harder to guess based on a single verb.

So in the reviews for this grammar point, if I don’t already know the other verb then I usually fail – even though I do generally understand how to use transitive and intransitive verbs, and I can sometimes recognise which is which if I see the two together.

What is the best way to go about making proper progress on this grammar point? It is something I would like to work on, but it just doesn’t feel helpful in its current state.
I’ve seen a couple other threads on this forum on the same topic without a lot of input…


I am not a fan of the way the transitive/intransitive pairs grammar point works. There are a couple of issues.

First, and I think this has been mentioned before, is that the paradigm is different to the way much of Bunpro works. A verb is presented that is not actually part of the answer.

Second, and for me this is the bigger issue, is that it is not really a grammar question, but more of a vocabulary question since it relies on the user having already studied the particular pair presented in the question. Some have suggested providing both the transitive and intransitive verbs, which is better, but it would still essentially be a vocabulary problem. The user would still have had to study both verbs.

The only way I can think to make it a purely grammatical question is to provide the user both the transitive and intransitive verbs, and tell them which is which. Obviously, in this situation, there wouldn’t be a hint as to which one should be used in the sentence. This way, the user has to read the sentence and use context clues to determine which verb completes it. Here is an example of what I am trying to convey:

ずっと探していたカバンを ________。
I found the bag I was looking for.

In this sentence, the answer has to be 見つけた because bag is a direct object. This does mean that some of the current example sentences aren’t sufficient since the sentences need to have enough context in them to make it clear which is the correct verb to use.


I like the idea! :star_struck:

1 Like

@skymaiden, @seanblue, and @JT421 Thank you all for your feedback on transitive and intransitive verbs. I have updated the Meaning page to include more examples and information about transitive/intransitive verbs and have highlighted and separated transitive and intransitive verbs for better readability. In example sentences, transitive and intransitive verbs are more clearly labeled. Review questions now display both the transitive and intransitive verbs, so now all you need to do is pick the correct one and conjugate. If you type an intransitive verb when a transitive verb is expected, you will get a hint. Cheers!


I have a question about this entry:

雨(あめ)が降(ふ)った時(とき)窓(まど)が あいていた から、床(ゆか)が濡(ぬ)れている。

Since the window had been open when it was raining, the floor is wet.

I don’t understand this as I’m not sure what other grammar is being included here. Why is the answer “あいていた” and not “あった”? I don’t know what the ”いた” is doing here. I sort of understand why the TE form is being used but not the second part.

The verb is 開く (to open) and the past form is あいた (opened).

The て-いる form is used to express a state of being open/having opened:
(Also at the end with ぬれる “to get wet“).

Here it’s in the past to say that it was open.

Ok, so I wasn’t being dim - this grammar point isn’t even in my reviews. A bit annoying as your link is the first time I’ve even heard of this grammar point.

I feel like the way the question is currently set up, it’s testing me on whether I know the meanings of the english words “transative” and “intransitive” and not whether I can make these forms myself.

1 Like

Hey, I have started to use Bunpro a few weeks ago and so far the SRS system has been pretty easy to understand and effective. However I’m a bit lost on the purpose of this grammar point in particular. I get the explanation of Transitive/Intransitive, but I don’t know how exactly the SRS questions are supposed to help me.

For reference this is how these questions seem to look right now:

If the question already tells me which word is transitive and which is intransitive then what exactly is my task?
Like jclarke said

it’s testing me on whether I know the meanings of the english words “transative” and “intransitive” and not whether I can make these forms myself.


My issue with the current iteration of this grammar’s reviews is the fact that the choice of when to fail and when to warn doesn’t make sense to me.

My understanding of the grammar point and the suggestions that were implemented to reach the current version, is that the main point of it is to choose the correct verb out of the two presented.
And the fact that this verb then might need to be conjugated as seen in previous grammar points is merely a secondary task to help reinforce them.

However, choosing the wrong verb for that main task merely produces a warning with a hint which particle to look for, giving me a second chance. And since there are only two choices, this means you can never fail the main task.

Whereas for the secondary tasks of conjugating the chosen verb, where sometimes only parts of the conjugation are even included in the hints (e.g. only [casual] above, but there’s past tense in the translation), choosing wrong will make you fail immediately.

I do appreciate that this questions helps reinforce previous grammar points by including these conjugated verbs. But in my opinion, that warning/second chance should be on the secondary tasks, not the main task.

I’m not sure if I just hit a new batch of tests or if the grammar point was changed within the last few days, but it has become a lot worse.

The question now explicitly shows the opposite of the transitive/intransitive pair, which

  • tells you which variant you need, by process of elimination
  • gives you a hint how it needs to be conjugated

This basically transforms the grammar point into a version of the conjugation grammar points, except that on the one hand you get a hint what the suffix might be, whereas on the other hand, if you fail/don’t know the conjugation form, the “Show Grammar Info” is useless, because all it shows is “Transitive vs. Intransitive”. But the question already answered that part for me, so I don’t need the grammar info for that.

I have a few questions about this because I regularly fail reviews in here. And ironically basically never because of wether to use the transitive or intransitive verb but always because of some other grammar issue (I might not have even learned yet).

Take this sentence for example:
which translates to:
The temperature really has suddenly dropped (become low), hasn’t it?

My first question is, why is this the past form when the original english is in the present perfect? I guess, Japanese doesn’t really have an equivalent for this, but is it always like that? Or would the present be ok as well?

Another question: Why isn’t casual past + desu allowed as well? Other examples allow this combination on verbs as polite form although according to Tae Kim it shouldn’t. So I am highly confused if that’s ok or not :confused:

I guess some of it is that I think I understand the grammar and then there is something wrong and I’m not sure if I misunderstood it or if the example is just wrong or incomplete.

I hope, one of you can clear my confusion a little bit :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hey and welcome on the community forums, good questions you have here


In Japanese past form (the たending) of the verb is used to express both actions that were completed or things that have existed in past (past simple) and actions that have happened in past but have effect in present (present perfect). It also includes the past perfect tense.

I have eaten.
I ate.

The non-past tense is not used for that.

Though there is a small exception, to convey negative past simple tense we use the negative past form of the verb, while for the negative present perfect we use ていない in Japanese.

I didn`t eat sushi.
I still haven’t eaten sushi.

(If you want to “emphasize” the present perfect, then you can use adverbs like もう (already) and まだ (yet, still))

You can add です to express politeness with verbs, but it only applies to negative forms.

So you can use ないです instead of ません。
食べない→食べないです⇄ 食べません

However, you cannot do that with verbs that are affirmative (not negative):

Though it is possible to say:
食べるんです if the explanatory form is used. Though this is not a conjugation of verb.

I hope it helps,
Cheers :+1:


It does, a lot. Thank you very much :slight_smile:

1 Like