The verbs ひらく and あける both mean to open, and とじる and しめる both mean to close. I understand that ひらく and とじる are antonym pairs, as are あける and しめる, but have never been clear on the difference between them. I have heard it explained in several different ways, but have come across several cases which seem to refute them. Some of the explanations I have seen are:
- ひらく/とじる refer to an abstract or figurative opening or closing, such as opening a store, account, or ceremony. あける/しめる are literally opening or closing something (physically).
- ひらく/とじる are opening or closing something in 3 dimensions (such as a laptop or a car door), where あける/しめる are only used when the opening/closing action only spans one dimension (such as a sliding window or a Japanese style closet).
On the other hand, I have seen buttons on an elevator say ひらく and とじる (which refutes #2). I have never heard ひらく or とじる applied to a door--it's always あける/しめる, whether it's a hinged or a sliding door. I have always heard あける / しめる used when referring to the opening of a store or business (e.g. レストランはあけていますか。). What is the difference between these terms?
And as a secondary question, is ひらく both transitive and intransitive?