In this sentence:


Does it mean:

"Even with a force as weak as of raindrops, by constant dripping a hard stone can also have a hole"

or does it mean:

"Even with a force as weak as of raindrops, constant dripping can make a hole even on a hard stone"

I'm not sure how to interpret 穴があく. shouldn't it be 穴をあく?

  • 意味は「雨垂れ石を穿つ」という諺と同じでしょうか。 – Craig Hicks Feb 25 '17 at 1:21
  • yes, it's defining that proverb – Jon Feb 25 '17 at 3:17

「あく」 is intransitive. A hole forms by itself.

「あける」 is transitive. A person/thing makes a hole.

So, it is incorrect to say 「穴{あな}あく」; It simply makes no sense.

It is only correct to say the two following forms:

「穴あく」("a hole forms") 「穴」 is the subject.

「穴あける」 ("to make a hole"). 「穴」 is the object.

You must, however, be careful in telling what the subject or object is when the Japanese sentence has already been translated and presented to you. Many J-learners, for some reason, tend to tell what the subject or object is by looking at the translated sentence rather than by analyzing the original Japanese. SE is no exception regarding this. I know that for sure as I do answer quite a few questions.

In the phrase 「穴があく」, the subject is none other than 「穴」, which is why it is followed by 「が」. To translate this, however, some might use "(it) makes a hole", involuntarily making 「穴」 look like the object. It is the object only in that translation, not in the original.


thus means:

"If (rain drops) keep falling for a very long time, holes will form even in the hard stones."

Needless to say, while 「あく」 is the dictionary form, it is used like the future tense here.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.