In the current section of my textbook, a bunch of verbal compositions was introduced, like: 読み終わり 歩き始め 祈り続け

終わり and 続け are classified as auxiliary verbs on jisho: http://jisho.org/search/%E3%81%AF%E3%81%98%E3%82%81 http://jisho.org/search/%E3%81%8A%E3%82%8F%E3%82%8B

始める isn't http://jisho.org/search/hajimeru

My actual question relates to this sentence: 一郎さんはやっと本を読み終わりました。 => Ichiro has finally finished the book.

What irritates me in this sentence is that 終わり is used in a transitive verb. Is the transitivity/intransitivity of a verb negligible if it is used in a composition? If so, is this phenomenon restricted to a set of (very common) compositions?

Furthermore, I would be interested wether this is only typical for verbs which (also) bear the classification "auxiliary verb"? 始める isn't classified as an auxiliary verb though.

Do auxiliary verbs always function as parts of a verbal composition btw.? This would be important to know because in our western languages, auxiliary verbs usually are used in "analytical" (I hope that's the correct english term) constructions (e.g. "I will build a house"; The auxiliary verb is not directly attached to the main verb and remains its own unit/entity in the sentence).

EDIT: This question revolves around the issue of transitivity in context of verbal compositions in common. It asks wether there is a set of grammatical prerequisites for a verb of intransitivity/transitivity to be used in a verbal composition of the opposite transitivity (That is: Transitive -> Intransitive; Intransitive -> Transitive).

  • Possible duplicate of When is 終わる used as a transitive verb?
    – macraf
    Aug 29, 2017 at 6:55
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    very specific to 終わる 終える so it doesn't really answer the question to auxiliaries in common. At least with my knowledge, I can't extrapolate that much from the linked QA.
    – Narktor
    Aug 29, 2017 at 6:59
  • Just like your question. You are even asking why other verbs do not behave like 終わる. It's just that the logical connection you made is incorrect.
    – macraf
    Aug 29, 2017 at 7:02
  • I just edited my question to make my point more clear. I might fail to see the link between our questions and/or to explain what exactly I mean, but to me: "My question: How often is 終わる used as a transitive verb and when is it used in such a way compared to 終わらせる and 終える?" seems a lot more specific and less focussed on the grammatical interdependencies than my question.
    – Narktor
    Aug 29, 2017 at 7:07

2 Answers 2


The transitivity of syntactic compound verbs are generally determined by the first verb. As an "auxiliary" verb, you should always use ~始める.

  • 水を流し始める。水が流れ始める
  • [×] 水を流し始まる。[×] 水が流れ始まる。
  • テレビを見続ける。眠り続ける
  • [×] テレビを見続く。[×] 眠り続く。
  • 勉強をやり直す。寝直す
  • [×] 勉強をやり直る。[×] 寝直る。
  • 本を読み通す。逃げ通す
  • [×] 本を読み通る。[×] 逃げ通る。

終える/終わる are exceptions. Both 終える and 終わる are used as the second verb, and the added meaning is almost the same. The first verb still determines the transitivity. But 終える is slightly more literary, and is usually used with intentional actions with a purpose.

  • 水を流し終わる。水を流し終える。
  • パンを食べ終わる。パンを食べ終える。
  • 一郎さんは本を読み終わりました。一郎さんは本を読み終えました。
  • 水が流れ終わる。 [?] 水が流れ終える。
  • 太陽が昇り終わる。 [?] 太陽が昇り終える。

(I personally think the use of the word "auxiliary verb" is confusing here, because it usually refers to ~ない, ~ます, ~て/で, etc.)

The discussion above is not applicable for lexicalized compound verbs. When the second verb describes a manner of movement, its transitivity tends to match the first verb (e.g., 尻を蹴り上げる, 飛び上がる, 友人を連れ回す, 走り回る, ...)

  • Thank you for the comparison of 水が流れ終わる and 水が流れ終える. It looks like you consider the second one questionable. Is that because 流れる is intransitive, or because the verb is not an "intentional action"? I would love to see an example of an intransitive, intentional action and see if 終える still feels questionable. For example, how about 泣き終わる versus 泣き終える? Dec 6, 2023 at 20:41
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    @どっかのおっさん 泣き終える is not too bad, but it may sound like it's a planned procedure rather than a spontaneous action. Like "I'm gonna cry for 5 minutes... Okay, I finished crying!"
    – naruto
    Dec 7, 2023 at 5:26
  • Thanks for the reply! That is very helpful. So then, would you say that the question of whether 終える can be used as a suffix with any particular verb is not related to whether the verb is transitive or intransitive, but rather a matter of whether one can see the action (and finishing the action) as intentional? Dec 7, 2023 at 23:06
  • @どっかのおっさん Yes. 終わる is more generic, so 走り終わる and 走り終える are pretty much interchangeable in the context of sport training.
    – naruto
    Dec 7, 2023 at 23:37
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    @どっかのおっさん I said "sport training" because 走る may or may not be a planned action, which affects the interchangeability of the two.
    – naruto
    Dec 10, 2023 at 4:12

I don't think this usage of を makes 終わる transitive, the transitivity comes from 読む. As for certain verbs not being "classified" as auxiliary for being attached this way, the way these predicates are smashed together is actually common; just think of it as a quicker way to conjoin predicates quicker than using the te-form. This saves 1-2 mora on average. For certain words and their frequency, this way of predicate forming has become common.

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