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掴{つか}む and 捕{つか}まえる both mean to catch and both are transitive verbs. Is there a difference in meaning or usage?

Note that there is an intransitive to be arrested: 捕{つか}まる - to be caught/arrested, which isn't grammatically passive, but has a passive meaning. I am not asking about this verb.

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I don't know if this makes sense, but 掴む is more focused on the "action" of grabbing something, while 捕まえる is more focused on the "result" (i.e. the fact that "you manage to get something to a state where it no longer moves freely".

Trying to illustrate, as fish are so slippery that they are hard to catch by bare hands, I guess you could say "あの魚を捕まえないな。だって、掴んでもつるつるですぐにげる。"

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    「あの魚を捕まえないな。」 does not make much sense. Jun 9 '19 at 14:01
  • Sorry, I guess I should have written 捕まえられない I tried to say that 掴む would refer to getting the fish between ones fingers, and 捕まえられない that one was unable to "obtain the control of the fish", in other words not succeeding in 捕まえる meant that the fish escaped after being grabbed.
    – Tuomo
    Jun 9 '19 at 14:07

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