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Why does どこで起こしましたか means where did you wake up while どこで起こったのですか means where did it happen?

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  • Where did these sentences and translations come from? Did you write the Japanese sentences?
    – Leebo
    May 5 at 9:05
  • The second came from Duolingo, I tried the first as an answer in Duolingo and it said the second one is the correct one. Also on Google translate it shows different translations. May 5 at 10:04
  • 3
    So Duolingo prompted you to translate "Where did it happen?" and you answered with どこで起こしましたか, and when that was wrong you compared it and どこでおこったのですか in google translate, if I understand correctly. Are you aware that these are two different verbs? おこす and おこる?
    – Leebo
    May 5 at 13:19
  • Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    May 5 at 16:01

1 Answer 1

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First of all, 起こす and 起こる are two different verbs. There are three related verbs you have to remember and distinguish:

  • 起こす: (transitive godan verb)
    1. to wake someone up
    2. to cause something; to make something happen; to trigger
  • 起こる: (intransitive godan verb)
    1. to happen
  • 起きる: (intransitive ichidan verb)
    1. to wake up; to get up
    2. to happen

Note that 起こす is always transitive in Japanese although "to wake" is both intransitive and transitive in English. 起こる only means "to happen", but the other two verbs each have two different meanings. The difference between 起こる and 起きる is fairly small when they mean "to happen".

The following sentences are different simply because different verbs are used:

どこで起こしましたか?
Where did [you] wake [him/her] up?
Where did [you] cause [it]?

どこで起こりましたか?
Where did [it] happen?

どこで起きましたか?
Where did [you] wake up?
Where did [it] happen?

And you can attach explanatory-no to any of these. This の is hard to translate into English, but it's important when you want to speak naturally:

どこで起こしたのですか?
Where did [you] wake [him/her] up?
Where did [you] cause [it]?

どこで起こったのですか?
Where did [it] happen?

どこで起きたのですか?
Where did [you] wake up?
Where did [it] happen?

So どこで起こしましたか has two possible meanings depending on the context, while どこで起こったのですか has only one meaning.

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