I'm studying for the JLPT and had a practice question regarding the correct usage of the word キャッチ (pick which one of the following sentences uses the word correctly):

1) 防犯用センサーにひっかかって店員にキャッチされた。

2) カメラで奇跡の瞬間をキャッチする。

The book's answer key claims that #2 is correct and that #1 is incorrect. The reasoning given is because the correct word to use for sentence #1 is 捕まる. However, the two words appear to be very closely related and I don't see how one is obviously right compared to the other. Is the only difference between キャッチ and 捕まる the passive/activeness of the words?

1 Answer 1


This is one of those tricky things with near synonyms. There will be cases where you can use one or the other, and the main difference will simply be one of register.

In this case, I get the sense (based on how I've come across the words being used in day-to-day life here in Japan) that the first one is wrong because "キャッチ" is (almost) never applied to people, while 捕まる is usually applied in reference to catching someone, especially if some form of wrongdoing is involved.

The police will 捕まえる criminals, but I don't think it can キャッチ them.

Here, a shoplifter (presumably) ran afoul of a theft prevention sensor, resulting in getting 捕まる'd by the staff.

The only instance of キャッチ I've read about for people involves taxi drives using to refer to getting a passenger. Usually, it's used for physical objects or more abstract concepts, as in キャッチ a ball, or キャッチ information.

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