It's known that roughly, in most cases, we can think of using "wo" vs "ga" this way:

ga is used when action is abstract, mental, non-physical

otherwise, wo is used

Yet, these examples are in contradiction with that rule:

Something ga taberarenai.

Someone wo shitte iru.

Why is that? Are there any exceptions?

There are other examples as well I can remember for now.

  • 2
    The above first part presents itself as a quote... are you making it up or are you quoting something?
    – virmaior
    Aug 9, 2017 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


As for your first example, potential forms of transitive verbs can take が instead of を. 食べられない (taberarenai) is the negative potential form of 食べる (taberu, "to eat"). が is used because no physical action has been taken yet when you say "can".

As for your second example, yes, 知る (shiru, "to learn; to get to know") is a transitive verb (a verb that takes を). 分かる (wakaru, "to understand") is a similar word but does not usually take を. I think this is something you have to remember and get used to.

  • but is the rule I've mentioned correct?
    – Ko32mo
    Aug 9, 2017 at 7:27
  • 1
    @Ko32mo 好き (suki), 欲しい (hoshi) and such are actually adjectives. It's true that adjectives are sometimes used where English speakers normally use verbs. But I doubt it can be called a general rule.
    – naruto
    Aug 9, 2017 at 7:35
  • but is the rule I've mentioned correct?
    – Ko32mo
    Aug 9, 2017 at 7:41
  • 4
    Incorrect. The rule you've mentioned is a severe oversimplification.
    – naruto
    Aug 9, 2017 at 7:58
  • how about this japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/12795/… ?
    – Ko32mo
    Aug 11, 2017 at 8:55

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