I have a few questions on this sentence:


What's the difference between 捕まえる and 捕える? both of them mean to catch right?

about 彼 and 彼女. From what I understand 彼 is he and 彼女 is her? It's very odd to see it, because most of the time we are trying to use less directive speech in japanese right? How common are sentences like this one?

Thanks, Or

  • where is the sentence from? Nov 23, 2016 at 19:32
  • example in tangorin
    – Smiled_One
    Nov 23, 2016 at 20:02
  • 3
    Note that examples in Tangorin may not always be the most natural Japanese.
    – user1478
    Nov 23, 2016 at 20:32
  • 「彼は彼女の手をつかんだ」のほうが自然なような気もします・・・
    – chocolate
    Nov 25, 2016 at 0:15
  • @snailplane Yea I know...that's the best I got. That's why I ask if it's normal to talk that way or not
    – Smiled_One
    Nov 25, 2016 at 8:44

3 Answers 3


According to the dictionary, とらえる and つかまえる have the same meaning.

とらえる is not much used in spoken language.

とらえる can also be used for abstract things:
相手の心を捕らえる: catch the person's heart.
真相を捕らえる: catch the truth.
機会を捕らえる: catch an opportunity.


Words like 彼 and 彼女 (meaning the third person) originally didn't exist in the Japanese language.
They were introduced with the translation of western books.
Today they seem to be quite common.

  • Thanks, 彼 and 彼女 sounds to direct for me, so I wonder if people really use it or it is just an example
    – Smiled_One
    Nov 26, 2016 at 10:23


In addition to misaka's answer, it is also worth noting the difference in nuance -- 捕{つか}まえる has overtones of "to catch in one's hand, to hold tightly in the hand".

捕{と}らえる, meanwhile, does mean "to catch and not let go", but not necessarily in one's hand; in this way, the meaning is closer to "to capture".


捕{つか}まえる comes from older 捕{つか}まう, traditional spelling 掴{つか}まふ, itself derived as the continuative / repetitive form ("to grab or seize and hold onto") of momentaneous verb 掴{つか}む ("to grasp, grab, or seize"), likely from noun 束{つか} ("a handful") + verb-forming suffix む (which seems to be related to 見{み}る, perhaps from a sense of "to seem or look like; to be made to seem or look like"), in turn possibly derived from verb つく with a base meaning approaching "to stick or set; to stick or set one thing into, onto, or against another".

捕{と}らえる comes from older 捕{と}らう, traditional spelling 捕{と}らふ, derived as the continuative / repetitive form ("to take and keep") of momentaneous verb とる ("to take", of various kanji spellings, depending on the intended overtones). Some etymologies suggest that とる itself represents a verb formed from noun 手{て} (ancient combining reading た), and both とる and 捕{と}らえる have "hand"-related senses -- but they also have more abstract senses ("to capture; to enthrall; to seize an opportunity", etc.), whereas 掴{つか}む and 捕{つか}まえる are (generally) more specific about the physical aspects of "catching".


The main difference is basically just the reading and the base verb - tsukamaru -> tsukamaeru, and toru -> toraeru.

Toru can be written with different kanji to have different nuances, but with the same kanji the two are essentially the same.

Kare is "he" and Kanojo in this context could be taken as "his girlfriend". This is third person, so I'm not sure what you mean by that (it's an observation about 2 other people, not yourself). Seems like a very normal sentence.

  • oh, maybe I mistaken. But most of the time I saw mister x or A san and so on. He and she is more directive than I used to in japanese
    – Smiled_One
    Nov 23, 2016 at 20:04

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