When using Google Translate for the verb "to close", among the many suggestions, there are five different verbs all with the same Kanji:

  • 閉じる (tojiru)
  • 閉ざす (tozasu)
  • 閉める (shimeru)
  • 閉まる (shimaru)
  • 閉てる (tateru)

I can guess that the difference between 閉める and 閉まる is the transitivity: 閉める is transitive while 閉まる is intransitive.

But what are the differences of all five?

  • 1
    Maybe, you can grasp nuance when you know しめる means basically "to squeeze" and たてる means "to stand (a board)".
    – user4092
    Mar 4, 2016 at 9:41
  • 閉てるは普通の日本人には通じない。 Mar 9, 2016 at 11:17
  • 2
    たてる as "close" is very non-standard in modern Japanese. Using 閉 for たてる is even more non-standard.
    – nodakai
    Mar 19, 2016 at 18:28

3 Answers 3


[閉]{し}まる is intransitive, [閉]{し}める, [閉]{と}ざす, [閉]{た}てる are transitive, and [閉]{と}じる can be transitive and intransitive.

  • [閉]{し}まる -- intransitive. Something (physically) closes.
    「ドアが閉まる」 a door closes
    「門が閉まる」a gate closes
    「店が閉まる」 a shop closes / shuts down

  • [閉]{し}める -- transitive. To (physically) close something.
    「ドアを閉める」 close a door
    「門を閉める」 close a gate
    「店を閉める」 close a shop / shut down a business

  • [閉]{と}じる -- transitive / intransitive.
    intransitive: "for something to close" "to come to an end"
    「ドアが閉じる」 a door closes
    「つぼみが閉じる」 a flower bud closes
    「店が閉じる」 a shop/business closes permanently
    「会が閉じる」 a meeting ends
    transitive: "to close something" "to bring something to an end"
    「目を閉じる」 close one's eyes
    「口を閉じる」 close one's mouth
    「傘を閉じる」 close an umbrella
    「店を閉じる」 shut down a business permanently
    「歴史を閉じる」 end its history
    「生涯を閉じる」 end one's lifetime -> to die

According to this dictionary, 閉じる is more used with 目, 口, 本, 傘, and 閉める with 引き出し, 門.

  • [閉]{と}ざす -- transitive. To block, close up, seclude, refuse, lock, bolt ([鎖]{とざ}す)
    Often used figuratively.
    「道を閉ざす」 block a road; close the door (to success, victory, future, career, etc.)
    「門を閉ざす」 lock a gate; close the door (to the world, etc.); (for school) to refuse students
    「国を閉ざす」 close the country
    「口を閉ざす」 keep silent / refuse to say anything (about...)
    「心を閉ざす」 close one's mind
    「耳を閉ざす」 shut one's ear (to...) / refuse to listen (to...)

  • [閉]{た}てる -- transitive. Exclusively used for [雨戸]{あまど}(sliding shutter), [障子]{しょうじ}(sliding paper door/screen) and [襖]{ふすま}(sliding door). Sounds old-fashioned; probably almost obsolete in modern Japanese.
    「雨戸を閉てる(or立てる)」 close shutters (「雨戸・障子・襖を[閉]{し}める」 is more commonly used.)

  • 4
    The examples were very useful. Excellent answer!
    – Pedro A
    Mar 5, 2016 at 13:16

You can apply “close” to all five words of “閉じる、閉ざす、閉める、閉まる、閉てる (shimeteru or shimatteiru, I cannot read it ‘tateru’ )” you gave. The difference is the transitivity as you rightly say. The first three words are transitive and the latter two are intransitive verbs.

But there is a delicate difference of nuance and the usages of these five words. For instances, we don’t say 本を閉ざす. We say 本を閉じる. We don’t say 付き合いを閉じる、We say 付き合い(交流)を閉ざす. I cannot tell whether there are definite rules for the usages of ‘閉じる’ related words.

Here are some examples of the conjugations of the given five words all referring to “close” something.

閉じる: 目を閉じる、本を閉じる、帳簿を閉じる、窓を閉じる - close eyes (book, account book, window).

閉ざす: 口を閉ざす、耳を閉ざす、心を閉ざす、門を閉ざす、付き合いを閉ざす – close (mouth, ears, heart, gate, social association).

閉める: 戸(門)を閉める、店を閉める – close door (gate, shop).

閉まる: 戸(店)が閉まる – The door (store) closes.

閉てる: 雨戸を閉てる - close a shutter

閉めている: 店を閉めている – The shop is being closed.

  • 「閉{た}てる」の例文が「閉{し}めている」になっていますが、「閉てる」というと「雨戸を閉てる」などという意味合いで使われているのが一般的だと思いますが、いかがでしょうか? Mar 3, 2016 at 23:13
  • Darius Jahandarie.Thanks. You're right. There're certaily turn of phrases such as 「雨戸を閉てる - close a shatter」、「人の口は閉てられない - You cannot shut the mouth of others (stop the rumor)」. I forgot to add it. I re-edited my answer accordingly Mar 3, 2016 at 23:51
  • Isn't it 人の口に『戸は』立てられない?
    – user4092
    Mar 4, 2016 at 3:02
  • 付き合いを閉じる sounds OK to me.
    – user4092
    Mar 4, 2016 at 3:10
  • User4092. Oop. It should be 人の口に戸は立てられない、or 人の口は閉じ (or 綴じ)られない. Mar 4, 2016 at 3:38

I spent some time puzzling over this, or at least the last entry, the claim that たてる can be written 閉てる. No such reading is given in Daijirin, for example, at least one native speaker close to me was as baffled as I was. And this matches the puzzlement in the answer from Oishi-san. Finally I read the beginning of your question carefully: you are using Google translate as a study tool??!? You cannot do this. Google translate is not even leading edge machine translation, it has a huge (pronounced "huuuuuge") corpus of text from all over the place, from which by statistical analysis it produces any and all "text mappings", including translations, mistranslations, misprints, pure garbage, and more. Of course, if you have an email from a customer in Greek, Lithuanian, Thai, or some other language you cannot read at all, Google translate is great for guessing whether this means "Order arrived. Thank you!" or "Problem! Order not arrived." -- but this is its limit.

I suggest you please withdraw the question.

  • 戸を閉てる is an alternative for 戸を立てる.
    – user4092
    Mar 4, 2016 at 9:36
  • 1
    Google Translate can be a useful learning tool if used with caution. I never said I blindly believed it. If you think that "Google Translate is wrong this time", it would be an answer to the question. It often occurs that the answer to a question is "your premises were wrong!", and that would be a valid answer. But (1) this does not answer the question and (2) it turned out that Google Translate was correct this time.
    – Pedro A
    Mar 5, 2016 at 13:21
  • 1
    You say that Daijirin doesn't list the reading たてる for 閉てる, but my Daijirin (スーパー大辞林 3.0) has this reading.
    – Earthliŋ
    Mar 5, 2016 at 19:39
  • 6
    I suggest you please withdraw the question Since you don't attempt to answer it, I suggest you please withdraw the answer. =)
    – Earthliŋ
    Mar 5, 2016 at 19:41
  • 1
    @brian-chandler What edition of Daijirin are you using? Try the 3rd edition here: kotobank.jp/word/…
    – Dono
    Mar 9, 2016 at 2:46

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