Intransitive & Transitive: Part II

第240課: Intransitive & Transitive: Part II

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

巻く, 運ぶ, 吹く, 催す, 結ぶ, & 頼る


巻く can be used to “to wind/coil/etc.” as an intransitive or a transitive verb. Its intransitive usage is not that common, and it is usually rephrased out of the sentence, often with 巻き付く.

1. おもいがけないほどうず(が)いている。
The whirlpool is swirling beyond expectation.
It is whirling beyond expectation. (Without が).

2. 上空じょうくうくもうず(を)いている。
The clouds in the sky above are swirling in a whirlpool.

3. くすりって包帯ほうたいいてください。
Please apply the medicine and wind a bandage (around the wound).

4. くるりといたはりのようなながくち特徴とくちょうです。
It’s long and completely wrapped up mouth, which is akin to a needle, is its trait.

5. へびがとぐろをいている。
The snake has coiled itself up.

Spelling Note: とぐろmay also be spelled as 蜷局.

6. ほそいツルが(き)いている。
The slender vines are twined around.

Spelling Note: ツル may also be spelled as 蔓.

7. しろしろけむりに{つつまれている・かこまれている・かれている}。
The castle is enveloped by white smoke.

蒔く, 播く, & 撒く

There are three more まく that need to be addressed. All three are solely transitive verbs.

蒔く: Used to mean “to plant/sow/seed.”
播く: Interchangeable with 蒔く.
撒く: Used to mean “to scatter.” It may also be used in a figurative sense such as in “to spread (rumors).”

8. 野菜やさいたねを{いた}のに、ません。
Even though I’ve sowed the vegetable seeds, they haven’t sprouted.

9. ベランダや玄関先げんかんさきだけにまめいたとしても、きちんと回収かいしゅうすることは必要ひつようです。
Even if you’ve only scattered beans on your veranda and at your front door, it is necessary that you properly retrieve them.

Cultural Note: This is a reference to cleanup efforts after having scattered beans as part of commemorating 節分 (the last day of winter in the traditional Japanese calendar).

10. わるうわさらしているひとも、あまり信用しんようされていないんでしょう。
The people spreading awful rumors are also likely not all that trusted either.

11. うちのねこはほぼ毎日まいにちあそびでトイレ(の)すならしてしまいます。
My cat scatters the sand in its litter box out of play almost every day.


As an intransitive verb, 運ぶ means “to proceed/to go (well),” but it is far more commonly used as a transitive verb to mean “to carry/transport.”

12. 植物しょくぶつおおくは、たねつくるために花粉かふんかぜはこばなければなりません。
A lot of plants must carry their pollen via the wind to create their seeds.

13. 物事ものごとがうまく{いっている・はこんでいる}ときにも油断ゆだん(を)してはいけない。
You also mustn’t be careless when things are going well.

14. 成果せいかているからといって、人生じんせいがうまく{いっている・はこんでいる}とはかぎらない。
Just because one is making results, it isn’t necessarily the case that life is going well.

15. すべてがうまく{いっている・はこんでいる}わけではありませんが、おおきな失敗しっぱいもしていません。
It’s not the case that everything is going well, but I’m also not making any great failures.

As the following example sentence demonstrates, 運ぶ can also be used to mean “to carry out.” However, the verb 進める is far more common in this regard.

16. 対等たいとう交渉こうしょうを{すすめる・はこぶ}ことは困難こんなんです。
Carrying out negotiations equally is difficult.

17. 本日ほんじつ作業さぎょうをもちまして一旦中断いったんちゅうだんはこびとさせていただきます。
We will temporarily suspend progress as of today’s work.

Grammar Note: As a noun, 運び far more frequently is used to mean “progress” than its verbal form 運ぶ.

Fuku 吹く

The verb 吹く can be used as both an intransitive and a transitive verb, but as a transitive verb, it is rather restricted. For one, the subject never acts out of its own volition. This is just like what was the case with ひらく and the meaning “to bloom.”

18. 部屋へやすみから微風そよかぜいてきた。
A breeze blew in from the corner of the room.

Reading Note: In literature, 微風 may seldom be read as びふう.

19. よる口笛くちぶえいてはいけない。
You mustn’t whistle at night.

20. カモメは、うみから上昇気流じょうしょうきりゅうってびます。
Seagulls fly by riding the updrafts that blow from the sea.

Spelling Note: カモメ may also be spelled as 鴎・鷗. The former variant is an unofficial abbreviation that has become widely used.

When used to mean “to bud,” 吹くcan never be used in the passive. This is largely due to the absence of volition plants have in budding. It’s also important to note that the verb芽吹く, which has 吹く in it, typically replaces 吹く for this nuance.

21a. 木々きぎはじめた。
21b. 木々きぎ芽吹めぶはじめた。
21c. 芽が木々きぎによってかれた。X
The trees have begun to bud.

22. 突然とつぜんなべこぼれて、熱湯ねっとうあしかって火傷やけどをしてしまいました。
Suddenly, the stew boiled over and my leg got burned by boiling water.

Word Note: Just as in English, a pot for stew can be used to refer to the stew itself.

There are two other verbs that are also ふく. Both are purely transitive and do not have the same grammatical constraints as 吹く・噴く above.

23. らしたハンカチでく。
To wipe one’s hand(s) with a wettened handkerchief.

24. 犬が顔を拭かれて怒ってしまった。
The dog got angry from having its face wiped.

25. かわら屋根やねきました。
I thatched the roof with tile.

26. くさかれた部分ぶぶんばされた。
The parts thatched with grass were blown off.


When you open up a dictionary, the first meaning of 催す that you will find is “to hold (a ceremony).” However, instances like 宴を催す (to hold a banquet) are rare and literary. Although the verb itself is usually only used in the written language, its most important meaning is “to feel (a physical sensation).” In that sense, it can be used as either an intransitive or a transitive verb, and although が and を appear seemingly interchangeable, the use of が is disappearing.

27. すこ眠気ねむけ{が・を}もよおしてから、安定剤あんていざいむ。
To take a stabilizer after showing signs of some drowsiness.

28. ビールで尿意にょうい{が・を}もよおすのはアルコールに利尿作用りにょうさようがあるためです。
Having the urge to urinate from bear is due to the diuretic effect of alcohol.

29. 意識いしき朦朧もうろうとし、{が・を}もよおす。
To feel nauseated while in a hazy state.

30. 浣腸かんちょう(を)して便意べんい{が・を}もよおす。
To feel a bowel movement from taking an enema.


結ぶ is usually used as a transitive verb meaning “to tie/link.” As an intransitive verb, it can be used to mean “to bear (fruit)” or for dew to coagulate, but other verbs typically replace it.

31. くさつゆが{いている・付着ふちゃくしている・むすんでいる}。
Dew has attached/condensed onto the grass leaves.

32. 努力どりょくが{むすぶ・みのる}としんじている。
I believe our efforts will bear fruit.

33. 努力どりょくむすぶことをねがっています。
I wish that the fruits of our efforts will manifest.

34. マカオと香港ほんこん(と)をむすはし工事こうじすすんでいる。
Construction on a bridge connecting Macao and Hong Kong is making progress.

Spelling Note: Traditionally, マカオis spelled as 澳門.

35. 条約じょうやくを{むすぶ・締結ていけつする}ことに成功せいこうする。
To succeed in entering a treaty.


The verb 頼る has three different nuances depending on how it is used.

・In “(X を) Yに頼る,” it shows dependency meaning “to rely on Y (for X).”
・In “Yを頼る,” it shows from whom/what you get help from. Essentially, you are purposely using connections.
・In “Yを頼りにする,” it shows with whom/what one depends on out of trust.

36. 日本にほんいま100ひゃくパーセント輸入ゆにゅうたよっているものってなんですか?
What foods does Japan now 100% rely on imports for?

37. 医者いしゃくすりたよるのをめませんか。
Why not stop relying upon doctors and medicine?

38. スマホにたよると、集中力しゅうちゅうりょくちる。
If you rely on your smart phone, your concentration will drop.

39. 需要予測じゅようよそくたよりすぎるべきではない。
You mustn’t over-rely on demand forecasts.

40. 経済けいざい資源しげん輸出ゆしゅつたよくにおおくあります。
There are many countries who rely on the importing of resources for their economies.

41. 飼料しりょうとして使つかわれる穀物こくもつおおくを海外かいがいからの輸入ゆにゅうたよっている。
We rely on the imports from foreign countries for a lot of the grain that is used for feed.

42. 使用量しようりょうのほとんどを中国ちゅうごくたよっている。
We’re relying on China for most of the amount used, has no choice but to accept.

43. 知人ちじんたよって渡米とべいしました。
I relied on an acquaintance to travel to America.

44. 一度地図いちどちずたよっておこなってみました。
I tried going once by depending on a map.

45. 伝手つてたよってソマリアの海賊かいぞくたちにいにきました。
I used connections to go meet the Somalian pirates.

46. みなさんはなにたよりにきていらっしゃいますか。
What does everyone rely on to live?

47. 地図ちずたよりに最寄もよりのえきかいました。
I headed toward the nearest train station, relying on a map.

48. いくら結婚けっこんできなくても婚活こんかつビジネスをたよるのはやめたほうがいい。
No matter how much trouble you have in getting married, it’s better to stop relying on marriage hunting businesses.

49. 名医めいいたよって病院びょういんえらぶというひとすくなくありません。There are far from few individuals who chose hospitals by recoursing to noted physicians.

50. 現在親げんざいおやたよって生活せいかつしています。
Currently, I am living by relying on my parents.