Xに捕まる was used when describing the speaker getting grabbed by X when trying to leave.

Why was the intransitive used over passive when it was Xに...?


3 Answers 3


In Japanese, there are a few verbs that take に and seem to have "inherently passive" meanings. 見つかる ("to be found by ~") and 捕まる ("to be caught by ~") are representative examples of this. They are called 受動詞 or "passive-like verb" by some linguists. See my answer here: Other uses of the particle に in お兄ちゃんには見つからない If you are interested, this article (in Japanese) investigates their nuances and etymology, but it's too difficult at least to me :D

Now, specifically about the difference between ~に捕まる and ~に捕まえられる, they are both correct, but people usually use the former because it's shorter. I cannot think of any example where 捕まえられる is better. (This does not mean all 受動詞 are preferred over the longer ones — 知られる and 教えられる are both common and are even preferred depending on the situation.)


I am a Japanese. "Xに捕まえられる" -> we can use it. this sentence include a negative meaning. for example, if the speaker has made a bad thing, we can use this sentence sometime. "Xに捕まる" -> we can use it more often than "Xに捕まえられる". "Xに捕まる"-> this sentence does not include both a negative and positive meaning. It does not depend on any situation.

Does that make sense?


I'll try to explain about Y is caught by X.

  1. 捕まる is an intransitive verb. YがXに捕まる is not grammatically a passive voice in Japanese.The translation can be Y is caught by X.

  2. Another verb, 捕まえる, is a transitive verb. XがYを捕まえる means X catches Y. * 捕まえる is also an active voice. The passive voice of 捕まえる is 捕まえられる. YがXに捕まえられる has almost same meaning as the sentence 1.

When you say "Y is caught by X" in Japanese, you have two choices: 1. YがXに捕まる(intransitive, active), 2. YがXに捕まえられる(transitive, passive voice of 捕まえる).

Hope it helps.

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