The JLPT N5 textbook and the Tangorin online dictionary say 出る is intransitive and, as far as I know, should be used with が, but the Genki I textbook says it accepts を when it means "to exit". So, which is correct?

  • We have some questions about this use of を already, although I'm not sure which one to link to. (Maybe they're similar but not exactly duplicates?) I found this, so far: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/12734/1478 – snailcar Jan 15 '15 at 23:05
  • So, with 出る, を kind of marks the path you take when exiting (from inside to outside sort of thing)? – Daniel Jan 15 '15 at 23:09

「[出]{で}る」 is indeed always an intransitive verb. 「[出]{だ}す」 is the transitive verb.

So, why is it possible to say 「レストラン出る」、「[日本]{にほん}出る」, etc? It is an "exception" to the general rule that says one can only attach 「を」 to transitive verbs.

The 「を」 attached to transitive verbs (as in 「ピザを食べる」) functions differently than the 「を」 in 「レストランを出る」. The former is the famous object-marker. The latter is, in my own words, the "spatial mobility" marker. (Excuse my ignorance if that term is already used elsewhere.) It is not limited to "exiting".

Examples of "spatial mobility" using intransitive verbs:

「[家]{いえ}[出]{で}る」 = "to leave home"、「[空]{そら}[飛]{と}ぶ」 = "to fly in the sky"、「[道]{みち}[歩]{ある}く」 = "to walk on the street"、「[公園]{こうえん}[散歩]{さんぽ}する」 = "to take a walk in the park", etc.

All of these verbs are intransitive.

The transitive 「[出]{だ}す」:

「ゴミ[出]{だ}す」 = "to take out the garbage"、「ともだちにコーヒー[出]{だ}した。」 = "I served coffee to my friends.", etc.

  • 2
    What's your justification for saying 出る and similar verbs are always intransitive? Why can't they be transitive verbs? In English we have similar expressions - to leave home, to run a race, to swim the English Channel, etc., that use the verbs in a transitive way. – SirTechSpec Jun 14 '16 at 21:39
  • Sorry for commenting two years later, but: after reading your answer and then the other answer below, it seems to me that what you called "spatial mobility" corresponds to item #3 here, except for your first example, 「家を出る」. This one feels more like the item #6 of the same page. I just wanted to know, do you agree with my thinking? Or you think「家を出る」does fit well into #3? If I'm right, it seems you mixed two different usages of the wo-particle (#3 and #6) in your examples. What do you think? Thank you very much. – Pedro A Jun 10 '17 at 21:31

This sense of を is similar to "from", like から - I'm not quite sure the difference in nuance between the two though. And this を is used with intransitive verbs.

For reference, sense 6 of を entry in Progressive says 「動作の起点を表す」 (indicates the starting point of an action). It gives two example sentences

  1. 8時にホテルを出た
    He left the hotel at eight.
  2. 大学を出ても職はなかった
    Though he graduated from college, he could not find a job.

研究社新和英中辞典 also lists it in sense 4 of を.

I agree with what l'électeur said about this を being a different を than the object-marker. As you can see from the linked dictionary entries, the object-marking を is but one of the multiple senses of を.

p/s: The question @snailboat linked in the comments is yet another sense of を which is used with intransitive verbs. It corresponds to sense 3 in Progressive and sense 2 in 研究社新和英中辞典

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