I know that まとまる has 3 meanings:

The first is of some matter being settled/agreed upon, which overlaps with a bunch of words (eg: 決まる, 片付く, 解決する, 成立する, 成り立つ). When should まとまる be used?

The second is the meaning of being gathered/collected. This seems to overlap with 集まる. For example, both 人数がまとまらない and 人数が集まらない can be found via google exact search. Is there any nuance between the two for this usage?

The final one is of something being unified/properly ordered, which seems to overlap with 揃う. For example, I could imagine 各組合の足並みがそろわない and 各組合の足並みがまとまっていない. What is the difference here?

Am I thinking about まとまる correctly, and if so, when should I use it over the other words?

1 Answer 1


各組合の足並みがそろわない and 各組合の足並みがまとまっていない.

They mean practically the same, but 足並みがそろう is a set phrase and more idiomatic. まとまる would be more natural without 足並み: 各組合がまとまっていない.

人数がまとまらない and 人数が集まらない

Generally 人数がまとまらない should be less common. 人数が集まる neutrally means the fixed number of people gathers - it can be three, four people. 人数がまとまる can be synonymously used, but it more often implies まとまった人数 = a large enough number of people. The following are the examples that came top on my search:

  • 人数がまとまるにまだ十人足りない
  • ある程度の人数がまとまる場合には、お店を丸ごと貸し切ってしまうのも手
  • ある程度の人数がまとまるまで舟を出さない。

All of these means People gather in large enough a number. So まとまる implies sort of bulk in this meaning.

決まる, 片付く, 解決する, 成立する, 成り立つ vs まとまる

This depends on what it is combined with, and not really answerable in one answer (btw, this can be translated as まとめて答えられない.)

Just a few examples.

  • 法案がまとまる - The bill is settled upon/ 法案が成立する - The bill passed.
  • 話がまとまる is similar to 話が決まる. The talk came to an agreement.
  • 考えがまとまる (My) ideas are sorted out. 考えが決まる is less idiomatic/考えが片付く is not diomatic.

Also there is a thesaurus entry.

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