Intransitive & Transitive: Part 3

第259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 NoteRingo 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.