How are they different in meaning and usage? I also would like to see samples of how each can be used in a sentence.


3 Answers 3


Since you said your Japanese isn't yet strong enough, I'll write here what the sites pointed to in the comments to your question have to say.

停める This is "to stop" like a train or bus at a station or bus stop. The general sense is to stop briefly before moving on. So, for example, you could use it to say something like "I stopped to unload my groceries."

留める has a more abstract meaning. To fasten something so it doesn't move.

止める is the general notion of stopping something from moving.

On the site pointed to by broccoli forest, there are various examples provided:

Translations of the first three examples for 止める are

  1. バスが止まる。 The bus stops.
  2. 時計が止まっている。 My watch has stopped.
  3. 息が止まるぐらい驚いた。 I was so surprised that I caught my breath.

Translations for the first three examples for 留める

  1. これはネジで留まっているので、ドライバーが必要だ。 I need a screwdriver because it's fastened with a screw.
  2. 日々、目に留まった風景をデジカメで撮っている。 Each day, I snap pictures of the scenery that catches (stops) my eye.
  3. シャツのボタンを留める。 I fasten the buttons on my shirt.

There's also 泊める which has the sense of staying some place.

  1. 駅前のホテルに泊まった。 We stayed at the hotel by the station.
  2. いつでも泊まりに来てください。 Please drop by whenever.
  3. 大型の船が港に泊まっている。 The freighter has dropped anchor in the bay.
  • The question is clearly about transitive verbs, but only one of the nine example sentences above uses a transitive verb.
    – user4032
    Feb 7, 2016 at 0:54
  • 2
    @l'électeur I read it more as question about the difference in the meaning of the kanji choice than whether the verb form used was transitive or intransitve. But I could certain update the answer to reflect that.
    – A.Ellett
    Feb 7, 2016 at 1:03
  • This (your answer) might be a perfect explanation from one of native Japanese speaker. And literary elegant, too.
    – user20428
    Feb 16, 2019 at 1:52
  • 1
    ^ literary elegant て?  literary (文語的な)? literally? (文字通り・まさに)?
    – chocolate
    Feb 16, 2019 at 14:16

Do note that the native Japanese language didn't distinguish all these words. When Japanese started to import Chinese words some 1,500yrs ago, we noticed their civilization and culture were much more advanced and they had so many words to distinguish notions which just seemed the same to us. It was many-to-one mapping.

Notable examples are [早]{はや}い "early" and [速]{はや}い "fast/quick" (and perhaps [迅]{はや}い for "blazingly fast".) So, Japanese in the Kofun period didn't even distinguish "early" and "fast" --- probably they thought like, someone wakes up early in the morning must be walking around fast in the village for farming rice, why bother to have two different words??


English counterparts of 停める、止める、and 留める in the transitive form will be:

‘park’ to 停める as in 車を停める – park a car (in parking lot).

‘stop’ to 止める as in 出血を止める - stop bleeding 、機械を止める – stop the machine.

‘keep / leave’ to 留める as in 心に留める〈留意する〉- keep in mind, (荷物を)手元に留める – keep the luggage at hand, beside the case of 'fastening the buttons' and 'catching the eyes' in A Ellett’s answer.

In an intransitive or passive form, it will be for examples;

(車が)停まる – The car is parked (in front of the building).

血(時計)が止まる- The bleeding stops. / The clock stops.

情報が(彼の手元に)留まる – The information is kept / left in his hand.

(ローマに)留まる- (He) stays (in Rome).

  • 2
    ローマには「泊まる」方が自然かなと思います。そのままだと「留【とど】まる」と読みそうです。 Feb 12, 2016 at 9:49
  • 2
    broccoli. I didn't mean(ローマのEden Hotelに)泊る in my answer. I meant (ローマに1週間)留まる。We Japanese say ホテルに泊まる, but don't say (ローマに泊まる - It's awkward, though we say "stay in hotel / in the city" in English. You can also say (ローマに1週間)"滞在する" in place of "留まる." Feb 12, 2016 at 11:19

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