Can you explain the difference between the following two sentences?
(A) can be translated as “(Somebody unspecified) starts a lesson” and (B) can be translated as “the lesson starts.” Both translations use the English verb "starts." However (A) has the Japanese verb はじめます and (B) has はじまります. Why?
The reason is: "starts" in (A) is a transitive verb which describes an action that is initiated by somebody (in this example "somebody unspecified") and that it is aimed at an object (in this example "the lesson"). On the other hand, "starts" in (B) is an intransitive verb that describes an action which occurs regardless of your involvement.
In English, there are many verbs that can be used both as a transitive verb and an intransitive verb. "Stop" is another one of those.
(C) くるまをとめます。 (Somebody unspecified) stops the car.
(D) くるまがとまります。The car stops.
As you can see, in Japanese, you need to distinguish these two.
This relates to my blog post of last Monday where I talked about “てForm + います” that expresses a continual state as a result of an action that has been completed. That happens when an "intransitive" verb for an action is changed to “てForm + います”
In order to see the difference, I will make all the example sentences above into “てForm + います” form. Please compare the meaning.
(A’) じゅぎょうをはじめています。 (Somebody unspecified) is (in the middle of) starting the lesson.
(B’) じゅぎょうがはじまっています。The lesson has (already) been started.
(C’) くるまをとめています。 (Somebody unspecified) is (in the middle of) parking the car.
(D’) くるまがとまっています。The car is parked.