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I know that the former is for transitive verbs and the latter is for intransitive verbs (specifically motion verbs like 出る、向く、上る) but how do I explain the following sentence:

明日、会社を休む。

At first, I thought that it's just one of those cases where the verb is not so clearly defined as either transitive or intransitive but the dictionary clearly shows that it has a transitive equivalent "休める" , so why not just use the transitive one "休める" instead of using the intransitive one "休む"? Is there a subtle difference in its meaning ?

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「休{やす}む」 is both an intransitive and transitive verb; therefore, 「会社{かいしゃ}を休む」 is in the standard "noun + を + transitive verb".

「休む」 is not a motion verb in the first place, so the famous "noun + を + intransitive motion verb" structure is not applicable here. Since that has been discussed here multiple times already, I will not go into it here. I am, of course, referring to phrases such as 「公園{こうえん}走{はし}る」、「町{まち}歩{ある}く」, etc.

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    Does this imply that 休む and 休める are actually entirely different verbs with different meaning and not pairs of transitive and intransitive verbs such as 落とす/落ちる where the difference is just whether or not the verb takes on a direct object? – Fishsticks Jun 17 '18 at 12:26
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    @Fishsticks They're not entirely different verbs, but they are different verbs, just like every other transitive–intransitive pair. Remember, these words were formed a very long time ago, so they've had plenty of time to go their separate ways. For what it's worth, the transitive use of 休む is much newer, but still centuries old. – snailcar Jun 17 '18 at 12:46
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This is an interesting question. Here's why:

  • 休める has the definitions of “rest; give somebody a rest” and “put {somebody's mind} at ease [rest]; give relief {to somebody}” and “stop; suspend; freeze}.
  • 休む has the definitions of “rest; take [have] a rest; repose; take time off” and “have a day off” and “suspend {business}” and “be absent {from school}; absent oneself {from school}” and “cut {a class}; play truant (from school)” and “sleep” and “go to bed; retire; turn in”.
  • 会社を休む has the definition of “take a rest [break] from one's work; take time off from work; I'm going to take a break from the company”.

All right, now let's look at your sentence.

明日、会社を休む。

Translation: Tomorrow, I'm going to take a break from the company.

Of course, this sentence could be translated in many different ways, but I think the gist is pretty clear.

Let's try changing the sentence like this:

明日、会社を休める。

Translation 1: Tomorrow, I will rest the company.

Translation 2: Tomorrow, I will give the company a rest.

Translation 3: Tomorrow, I will put the company's mind at ease.

Translation 4: Tomorrow, I will stop/suspend/freeze the company.

Now, I don't know if you feel that companies are people, but I think we can agree that the first three translations seem strange. The fourth translation seems to make the most sense, but it refers to something else entirely.

So, in summary, if you're talking about taking a day off from the company, then 休む is the verb for you, and if you're talking about stopping the company, then 休める is the verb for you.

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