What are the nuances between these three verbs when paired with 責任? I understand they all mean "to take responsibility", but are they interchangeable, etc?

  • 責任を取る
  • 責任を負う
  • 責任を持つ

負う's definition says (among other things) "to take responsibility for". Does this mean it can be used by itself (i.e. without "責任を")?

Also, when would 責任がある be appropriate to say that you take the responsibility? (It seems to me that that implies where the responsibility is, regardless of if it's recognized by the person/party who has it.)

Bonus Question: Are there other common ways of conveying taking responsibility?

1 Answer 1


This may seem too obvious, but...

  • 責任を取る is to take responsibility (actively)
  • 責任を負う is to bear responsibility (with a negative, burdensome connotation)
  • 責任を持つ is to carry responsibility (more neutral than bearing responsibility)
  • 責任がある is to have responsibility (objective fact of having an obligation, e.g. legally)

For the bonus question, I think these are all the different ways of saying something similar to "to take responsibility". 負う by itself means "to bear" and is not necessarily related to responsibility, e.g.

to be injured / to sustain an injury

Cf. 傷が付く
to get injured.

However, in the negative, we have the negations of the above, but also

  • 無責任, which characterizes someone who has no sense of responsibility, e.g.

    You really have no sense of responsibility.

which is quite different from 責任が無い.

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