while I was searching for と思う I came across a sentence, which is reproduced herewith:

さくらさんは松本さんが止めると思う (Sakura thinks Matsuoto will stop)

Here are my questions:

  1. In this sentence I want to ask, as to why is a transitive verb i.e. 止める is being used with が. As, が is used with only intransitive verbs and 止める is transitive. OR is the sentence wrong?
  2. Are there any exceptions like this (any link or answer will help)



Another example 女の子のお母かあさんがはいていたものでした (As in photograph) (履く being transitive)

Example 2

  • 1
    が can be used with both transitive and intransitive verb.
    – fefe
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 13:22
  • @fefe I have however seen that most of the transitive verbs are marked with を and not が, as the subject acts upon it. So, can を be used with intransitive as well (except in case of movement). Further, why have not used 止ます?
    – APK
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 13:54

4 Answers 4


The difference between transitive verbs and intransitive verbs is in how verbs relate to their objects. It is true that 「が」is used with intransitive verbs, but the problem we're dealing with here is not about verb/object, it's about subject/verb.

Which is to say, one of the main functions of 「が」is also to mark the subject of a verb.

Since the first sentence that you cited is lacking context, let's focus on the excerpt from the story.

In the first sentence, we come to learn that, when the little girl left the house, she put on some shoes. Since 「履く」is a transitive verb, it requires an object,「靴」, which takes the 「を」particle. But now that 「靴」has been established as the object of 「履く」, it's unlikely that we will ever see 「を履く」again in this part of the story, which is why I said that this is not an issue of verb/object.

In the next two sentences, we learn that the shoes were essentially useless because they were too big for her feet. Why? Because, in the last sentence, we find out that they were shoes that her mother had worn long ago. As I said, 「靴」had already been established as the object of 「履く」, so 「靴」is omitted. (This is similar to English, where after the object has been identified, it is thereafter referred to as it, them, etc.)

But, we still needed to know who wore the shoes long ago. So now the author uses 「が」to mark the subject, her mother, as the one who used to wear them.

Applying this explanation to the first sentence you cited, Sakura thinks that Matsumoto will stop doing something, but that something would have been established in a previous sentence, so now it has been omitted, and 「が」is functioning to mark Matsumoto as the subject who is stopping/quitting.

So, in summary, when the object of a transitive verb has already been identified, it can usually be omitted. But if the subject who is acting on the object changes, 「が」becomes necessary to identify that subject and it is irrelevant whether the verb is transitive, because again, it is no longer a verb/object problem, but rather a subject/verb problem.


が is the subject marker and を is the object marker. If your sentence is さくらさんは松本さん止{と}めると思う, it means that "I think Sakura will stop Matsumoto".

止める has two readings such as とめる and やめる, If your sentence is さくらさんは松本さんが止{と}めると思う, it can be interpreted in two ways. The one is "I think Matsumoto will stop Sakura" and the other is "Sakura thinks Matsumoto stop (somebody or something)". を is changed to は in the former sentence , and "somebody or something" is omitted in the latter sentence. If it is さくらさんは松本さんが止{や}めると思う, it normally means only "Sakura thinks Matsumoto will give up (something)" because は can't be changed to を. さくらさんを止{や}める is unnatural, isn't it?

女の子のお母かあさんがはいていたものでした is translated as "They were shoes that the girl's mother wore". There isn't any object in this sentence.


To start, your interpretation of the first sentence, さくらさんは松本さんが止めると思う is wrong. I am not a native speaker, but I am certain it means 'I think Matsumoto-san will stop Sakura-san'. If this were about what Sakura thinks, the verb would be in the form 思っている, and it would mean either 'Sakura-san thinks Matsumoto-san will stop [someone]' (if the reading is とめる), or 'Sakura-san thinks Matsumoto-san will quit [his job, for example]' (if the reading is やめる).

As for the second, why would it not use が? The speaker's mother wore them as a child. The shoes did not wear her.

  • Both とめる and やめる are transitive verbs and require an object, except when the object has already been established as I described above. You would need 「を」to mark the object (松本さんがさくらさんをとめる), so that is not the correct interpretation. Also, 思う is perfectly fine to describe what someone thinks, especially as it pertains to future actions.
    – TFlo83
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 5:13
  • 2
    @TFlo83 Are you not familiar with sentences of the structure ウナギは私が食べました, usually explained in language classes as having a meaning similar 'It was me that ate the eel'?
    – Angelos
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 5:16
  • Yeah, but you're omitting 「と思う」, which completely changes the meaning of the sentence.
    – TFlo83
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 5:21

が is a subject-marking particle. In most of the case, が follows the subject (there are some exceptions).

は is used to mark the topic of a sentence.

「さくらさんは松本さんが止めると思う」← Since we don't have the context I'm not sure but I think in the previous sentences the conversations would have been something like "Who will stop Sakura-san?(誰がさくらさんを止めると思う?)" Then someone is saying "I think Matsumoto-san will stop Sakura-san.(さくらさんは松本さんが止めると思う。= 松本さんがさくらさんを止めると思う。)".

So in this case, it could be said that さくらさん is the topic, so は is used, and 松本さん is the subject so が is used.

  • Thank you for the comments, I made some edits.
  • 1
    が always follows the subject. -- "always"..? 山田さんは日本語が話せます。とか。。。
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 8:20
  • Correct, が is the subject marking particle, while は is the TOPIC marking particle. In 山田さんは日本語が話せます, 山田さんは means 山田さん is our topic, but the grammatical subject is 日本語. Does this help? Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 8:40
  • @lingodeerapp But if you say that 日本語 is the subject, how do you interpret 話せます? Usually the subject is doing the action described by the predicate, but it's not 日本語 that's doing the talking, right?
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 20, 2020 at 13:39
  • 1
    ^ "山田さん..." -- じゃ「私はコーヒーが飲みたい。」とかは。。
    – chocolate
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 0:28
  • 1
    @EiríkrÚtlendi I also find this analysis very natural. My hope was that this answer would be expanded to give some more detail — currently it feels a little oversimplified...
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 0:30

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