I have seen that the verb 困る, an intransitive verb, is translated in English as "to have trouble", "to be troubled" or even "to have a hard time". These are grammatically correct in English, but could you suggest a translation that would make me understand how Japanese people understand the verb, in non-grammatical English (like how 分かる can be translated as "to do understandable/to do discernible" instead of "to understand", explaining it's が particle in phrases, or how 寿司が好きです doesn't mean "I like sushi" but more "sushi are likeable", in terms of grammar)?

The reason I am asking is because I am observing different phrases that make it hard to understand the verb with the English translations mentionned above. I have seen for example:


Considering 困る is intransitive, if 彼女 is the grammatical subject (is it?) of 困っています, why is there a を particle after お金 (and not a に as in "僕はしばしばお金に困る" which makes more sense to me). It looks here as if the grammatical subject is doing the action on the object "お金".

Furthermore, in a phrase like "彼が来なかったらこまるね", would the subject here be the null が particle (aka me, the speaker)?

I would like to be able to understand how 困る works in all types of sentences (sentences with 困る, 困っている and 困った) rather than memorise English translations for specific context phrases. There are a lot of questions in this post, but an explanation would really help me grasp how this expression works... Feel free to provide examples, thank you for reading this post!

  • 1
    お金を困る is simply ungrammatical. I guess to be troubled works for most cases.
    – sundowner
    Feb 26, 2023 at 9:53
  • 1
    The example with お金を困る appears to come from jlptsensei.com. Note that that site is not created by a native Japanese speaker.
    – Leebo
    Feb 26, 2023 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


I think you already understand the basic meaning of 困る well enough. Some Japanese intransitive verbs have no good intransitive equivalent in English, and you have to use other types of expression (e.g. a passive form) to understand them. 驚く is another classic example of this; it's hard to explain the meaning of this intransitive verb without using a passive form ("to be surprised").

What's really wrong is that example sentence. 彼女はお金困っています is plain ungrammatical, and it's a kind of mistake a native speaker almost never makes. The correct sentence is 彼女はお金困っています or 彼女はお金困っています. If you've really seen this on a learning site, you may need to check its credibility.

As for 彼が来なかったら困るね, the implicit subject of 困る is the speaker ("I"). 彼が is the subject of only the subordinate clause (if-clause) part.

If he doesn't come, I will be in trouble.

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