I have been searching all internet and haven't found an "acceptable" answer for it yet. I hope you guys can help me!

I was reading a text in the website KawaJapa about 分かる and the sentence 日本語が分かる. As a matter of fact, わかる is 自動詞 and means something like "understandable" and not "to understand" which is transitive, so "Japanese is understandable/comprehensible to me (私には)".

Following this line of thought, 見える would be the same: 富士山が見える, "Fuji-san is visible". However, I was watching one lesson in Youtube from the channel Nihongonomori about the uses of ために・ように and he gave two sentences that confused me:

  1. 生徒分かるように、ゆっくり話します。
  2. 見えるように、手を振る。

I understand the meaning of both sentences, but if I analyze it based on what was taught in Kawa Japa's website, then it doesn't make sense to me because both sentences would sound like:

"The students are understandable" and "he is visible"

When I know the sentences actually mean:

  1. "so the students will understand..." and
  2. "so he sees (me)..."

Shouldn't the sentences be, for example:

  1. (テキストが)生徒分かるように、ゆっくり話します。
  2. (私が)彼見えるように、手を振る。

So which sentence is more appropriate? Nihongonomori's

  1. 生徒分かるように、ゆっくり話します。
  2. 見えるように、手を振る。

or mine:

  1. (テキストが)生徒分かるように、ゆっくり話します。
  2. (私が)彼見えるように、手を振る。

I hope I could express my doubt in a clear way. Sorry for the big text.


  • 彼が見えるように <-- 確かに・・「He is visible」って思っちゃいますよね・・
    – Chocolate
    Mar 31 '18 at 2:48
  • Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/609/9831
    – Chocolate
    Mar 31 '18 at 2:56
  • @Chocolate Are you suggesting that 彼が見えるように、手を振る sounds wrong, or just that 彼が見えるように sounds like "He is visible" when read out of context? Mar 31 '18 at 7:39
  • @Chocolate Maybe I misunderstood. I understood your comment to mean that when you hear 彼が見えるように you think of "he is invisible", but the OP says the translation should be "so he sees (me)", so I got confused. Mar 31 '18 at 14:21
  • 1
    @user3856370 The latter, I guess... (ごめんね、コメント書きなおそうと思って消しちゃった)You're right, I meant when I hear/see 彼が見えるように I'd interpret it as "he's visible" (when there's no context)... to clearly say "so that he can see me" and avoid any confusion I'd probably say 彼に見えるように.
    – Chocolate
    Mar 31 '18 at 14:24
  1. 生徒が分かるように、ゆっくり話します。
  • 日本語が分かる
  • 生徒が日本語が分かるように、私はゆっくり話します。
  • 生徒が日本語のテキストが分かるように、私はゆっくり読{よ}みます。
  • 生徒が日本語のテキストが理解できるように、私はゆっくり読{よ}みます。
  1. 彼が見えるように、手を振る。
  • 富士山が見える
  • 彼が富士山が見えるように、私は彼を高台{たかだい}に案内{あんない}します。
  • 彼が私が見えるように、私は手を振る。
  • 彼が私に気づくように、私は手を振る。

生徒分かるようにゆっくり話す and 生徒分かるようにゆっくり話す are interchangeable. In short, X + が + potential-form can both mean "X can do" and "one can do X; X is doable". (Consider わかる as a kind of potential verb.) You have to infer the correct interpretation from the context.

Unsurprisingly, when X is an animate object the sentence tends to mean "X can do", whereas when X is an inanimate object the sentence tends to mean "X is doable". It's usually not difficult to determine the correct meaning in one way.

  • このキノコは食べられます。 This mushroom is edible.
  • 彼は食べられます。 He can eat (it). ([?]He is edible.)
  • 星が見えます。 I can see stars.

Some sentences can be ambiguous if there were no context at all:

  • 彼は殺せます。 (Someone) can kill him. / He can kill (someone).
  • 彼が見えます。 I can see him. / He can see it (e.g., the stage).

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