Was She Right?

Was she right?

Chapter 48 of Minna no Nihongo is all about causative verbs.  My Cafetalk tutor told me that this chapter was 大切 (important) but かんたん (easy).

Well, she was obviously right about the 大切, but what about the かんたん part?

Well, it does get a little complicated.

First of all, a causative verb indicates permission (let, allow, permit) or compulsion (make, force).  Easy enough.  Second, a causative verb may be transitive (able to take a direct object) or intransitive (unable to take a direct object).

The tricky thing about this for English speakers is that many of our verbs can be either transitive or intransitive without any change of form.

For example:

I shut the door.  (Transitive)

The door shuts.  (Intransitive)

In Japanese, however, the form of the verb changes.


ドアがしる。 (Intransitive)

When you start making the verbs causative, you get particles changing based on whether the verb is transitive or intransitive, and it seems to get a little complicated.

Then you can use the て-form causative to ask someone to let you do something.

Okay, really is isn’t too bad, but it is definitely going to take a little practice.

The trick is this:  with the last chapter of Minna no Nihongo in site, I don’t want to run into a lesson that is so complicated that it takes me longer than a week to do it.  I am a little impatient to get into the next book, and that sort of impatience is counterproductive.

What I should always want is to learn the language as well as possible and be unwilling to move on from any lesson unless I feel like I really got it.

Impatience is the enemy of learning! Impatience makes you move on before you’re ready.

Did you see what I did there?  I used a causative verb.



2 thoughts on “Was She Right?

  1. Just remember that が always marks the subject of a verb. If the particle changes when you go from transitive to intransitive or vice versa, it’s precisely because of that fact.

    In fact you don’t even need to know which verb is transitive and which is intransitive; if there’s a を, it’s transitive. You could say something like 私がドアを閉めた, “I am the one who shut the door.” And even if you take out the first part and just say ドアを閉めた you know it’s transitive, because the door is a direct object.


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