9

The verb 触れる challenges my concept of what を does; to mark a direct object.

Consider these uses of 触れる:

(人)の頬に指を触れる (Touch a finger to someone's cheek)

(人)の頬に手を触れる (Touch someone's cheek with your hand)

Now, if transitivity of the verb were not taken into account, I would guess that it's the finger or hand that is being touched since they are marked by the direct object marker . But because I know that 触れる is intransitive, I understand that the object is marked by instead.

(Question) What is the role of when used in the above type of pattern? Should the particle be instead since / are the "means" by which the action was carried out?

4

My daijirin lists both an intransitive and transitive form of the verb 触れる.

I suspect this is just a mismatch between the Japanese verb and it's closest English equivalent. The verb is something more like 'move-to-be-in-contact-with', so the direct object is the part of the body you're moving.

3

Just think that 触れる is "to shake, agitate, stir, displace" or something like that.

(人)の頬に手を触れる

I displace my hand to the chin of a person -> I touch the chin of a person.

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