この もんだいの ときかた(   ) わかりますか。
a. が   b. で   c. に   d. を

わかる/わかります is often remembered as “to understand something” but わかる/わかります actually means “something becomes clear enough (so that (a person) can understand it)” and it usually takes the form of ~が わかる, instead of ~を わかる, because what becomes clear is the subject of the verb, not the object (= the target of the action of the verb).

In other words: while the English “understand” is a transitive verb, the Japanese verb “わかる/わかります” is an intransitive verb.

If you are intrigued by the words “transitive” and “intransitive,” this video explains what they are.

This が can be substituted with は if you are emphasizing “what you understand.”

この漢字かんじかたが わかりますか。
Do you understand/know how to read this kanji?

英語(えいご)が わかりません。
I don’t understand English.

ジョンさんの住所じゅうしょが わかりません。
I don’t know John’s address.

Sometimes, you don’t need to use “understand” in the translation of わかる. “(something) has become clear” is enough.

テストの 結果(けっか)が わかりました。
The result of the test has come out.

コロナウイルスの被害(ひがい)の大きさは まだわかっていません。
The extent of the damage caused by corona virus is not yet clear.

If ”what has become clear” comes in a sentence form (a clause), you don’t need a particle が or は.

どうしたらいいか わかりません。
I don’t know what to do.

いま何時(なんじ)か わかりますか。
Do you know what time it is now?

In the above examples, I used the English word “know” for the translation of “わかる.” As I wrote in my previous articles, しりません vs わかりません , わかります/わかる overlaps with the English verb “to know” but you cannot replace the above わかる with しります or しっています. Because しります means “to get to know ~ for the first time” and しっています means “to have knowledge of ~” as opposed to “not to have any clue/knowledge about ~ at all.” For the difference between わかりません and しりません, please click the above links and read the linked posts.

For more beginners’ study material, please visit JLPT N5 Grammar and JLPT N5 Kanji pages.

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2 thoughts on “わかる/わかります

  1. Reply
    しっています vs わかります again | EasyJapaneseE
    29 July 2020 at 8:00 am

    […] to hear is an instruction of how to get to Kinkakuji Temple. Because, as it is explained in my previous post, the word わかります/わかる means “~ is clear enough to (understand, explain, […]

  2. Reply
    Don't use わかっている unless you really mean it! | EasyJapaneseE
    22 July 2020 at 8:02 am

    […] other day I wrote about the verb わかる. There I explained わかる is an intransitive verb meaning “[something] gets clear enough […]

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