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Oct 17, 2018

How to say "stop" in Japanese - Tomaru, Tomeru and Yameru

Hello. I'm Kosuke!

Today, let's learn how to say "stop" in Japanese!

I recommend you to check the video below before reading this article!

1. Summary

In Japanese, there are a few words which mean "stop".

I would like to explain about three verbs in this article.

They are "tomaru", "tomeru", and "yameru".

All of them mean "stop".

However, their meaning is slightly different.

I think it's confusing.

I will explain about their difference as clearly as possible.

Also, I will explain other similar verbs.

2. Tomaru and Tomeru

The basic information of Tomaru and Tomeru is below:

stopとまるto ma ru止まる
stopとめるto me ru止める

The difference is that "tomaru" is an intransitive verb, and "tomeru" is a transitive verb.

An intransitive verb explains the behavior of the subject itself.

On the other hand, a transitive verb explains the action to the object.
So when we use transitive verb, we need to say the object of the verb explicitly.

It means when we use "tomeru" we need to say the object explicitly because "tomeru" is a transitive verb.

Let's see the examples!


その とけいは よく とまる
 so no to ke i wa yo ku to ma ru

Meaning: "The clock often stops."

  その: the
  とけい: clock
  よく: often
  とまる: stop

Like the example above, when we use "とまる (tomaru)", we don't care who stopped the clock.
The clock stopped by itself.

Also, the object of the verb doesn't need to be written because "とまる (tomaru)" is an intransitive verb.

You only need to say the subject (clock) and the verb (stop), for making the sentence.

わたしは その とけいを とめる
 wa ta shi wa so no to ke i wo to me ru

Meaning: "I will stop the clock."

  わたしは: I
  その: the
  とけい: clock
  とめる: stop

When we use "とめる (tomeru)" instead of "とまる (tomaru)", we need to say the object explicitly.

In this case, "the clock" is the object.

"The clock" was the subject in the previous example for "tomaru".
However, "the clock" is the object in this sentence.

Object means the "target" of the action of the verb.

When we say "The clock stops", there is no target of "stop" because the clock stops by itself.

However, when we say "I stop the clock", "the clock" is the target of my action "stop".

In Japanese, "を (wo)" needs to be put right after the object.
So in this case, "とけい を (tokei wo)" is used.

If you want to know about "を (wo)", please check this:
  Particle を(wo) >>

Like the examples, when we say "tomaru", the subject stops by itself!

When we say "tomeru", the object is stopped by the subject, so we need to say the object explicitly!

3. Tomeru and Yameru

I already spoke about "tomeru", which is a transitive verb meaning "stop".
There is another transitive verb, which also means "stop", in Japanese.

It is "yameru".

Let's check their basic information!

stopとめるto me ru止める
stop, quitやめるya me ru止める

If we write them in Kanji, both are "止める", and both mean "stop".
Also, both are transitive verbs.

So we need to write an object and "を(wo)".

"Tomeru" and "Yameru" are very similar.

However, their meaning is slightly different.

When we say "tomeru", it usually means "stopping temporarily".

It means that it will start again after stopping for a while.

On the other hand, when we say "yameru", basically, it won't start anymore.

"Yameru" is often used when someone stops doing something because they found that it is boring, or they can't get enough benefit by doing it.

Because they already found there is no meaning to continue, they probably won't do it anymore.

So "Yameru" is similar to "quit".

Let's see the examples!


わたしは その タスクを とめる
wa ta shi wa so no ta su ku wo to me ru

Meaning: "I will stop the task."

  わたしは: I
  その: the
  タスク: task
  とめる: stop

In this example, "とめる(tomeru)" is used.
So the task is just being stopped temporarily.

Maybe, it will start again after a while.

わたしは その タスクを やめる
wa ta shi wa so no ta su ku wo ya me ru

Meaning: "I will quit the task."

  その: the
  タスク: task
  やめる: stop, quit

In this example, "やめる (yameru)" is used instead of "とめる (tomeru)".

So the task will not be started again.
Maybe, the speaker found that there is no meaning to continue to do the task anymore.

Like the examples above, "tomeru" means "stop temporarily"!

"Yameru" means "quit"!

4. Similar verbs

Please let me explain about two verbs similar to "tomaru".

They are "tachidomaru" and "yamu".

stop, stand still たちどまるtachidomaru立ち止まる

4-1. Tachidomaru

When someone stops walking, and when they stand still, it is called "tachidomaru".

If we write it in Kanji, it's "立ち止まる (tachidomaru)".

"立ち (tachi)" means "stand".

"止まる (domaru)" means "stop".


かれは よく あるきつかれて とつぜん たちどまる
 ka re wa yo ku a ru ki tsu ka re te to tsu ze n ta chi do ma ru

Meaning: "He often gets tired of walking and stops suddenly."

  he: かれは
  often: よく
  get tired of walking: あるきつかれて
  suddenly: とつぜん
  stop: たちどまる

Like the example above, when we say "stop walking", we say "tachidomaru".

4-2. Yamu

There is another way to say "stop" in Japanese.

It is "止む (yamu)".

The same Kanji as "tomaru" is used for "yamu", too.

However, "yamu" is used only for "rain" or "snow".


あめは あした やむ
 a me wa a shi ta ya mu

Meaning: "It will stop raining tomorrow."

  あめ: rain
  あした: tomorrow
  やむ: stop

Like the example above, if you want to say "stop raining", you should use "yamu" instead of "tomaru".

5. Other usages for Tomaru

Actually, "tomaru" is a verb which has many meanings.

Let's check an example of other meanings of "tomaru"!

5-1. Sit, Land

If the subject is an insect or a small animal, "tomaru" will probably mean "sitting on" or "landing on".

For this usage, the same Kanji, "止まる", is used.
However, in this case, Hiragana is usually used in order to distinguish it from the normal usage of "tomaru".

Let's check the examples!


ちょうが はなに とまる
 cho u ga ha na ni to ma ru

Meaning: "A butterfly is landing on the flower."

  ちょう: butterfly
  はな: flower

  に: on
  とまる: land

とりが えだに とまって いる。
 to ri ga e da ni to ma t te i ru

Meaning: "The birds are sitting on a branch."

  とり: bird
  えだ: branch
  に: on
  とまっている: are sitting

Like the examples above, if the subject of the sentence is an insect or a small animal, "tomaru" means "sitting" or "landing"!

6. Special Kanji characters

In this article, we learned "tomaru", "tomeru", and "yameru".
They are a little confusing, aren't they?

In addition to that, if you want to write them in Kanji, there are some cases to be careful.

In some instances, the Kanji character "止" is not used.

Let's check the special Kanji characters for them!

6-1. Tomaru (泊まる)

When you hear the Japanese sound "tomaru", it sometimes means "stay".
For example, "tomaru" can mean "stay at the hotel".

However, in this case, the Kanji is not "止まる".
The Kanji for "stay" is "泊まる (tomaru)".

So actually, they are not the same verbs.
However, their sound is completely the same.


わたしは その りょかんに とまる
 wa ta shi wa so no ryo ka n ni to ma ru

Meaning: "I will stay at the hotel."

  わたしは: I
  その: the
  りょかん: Japanese style hotel
  に: at
  とまる(泊まる): stay

Like the example above, "tomaru" sometimes means "stay".

The pronunciation of this "tomaru" is completely the same as the "tomaru" which means "stop".
Please don't be confused!

6-2. Tomeru (停める)

When we stop a car, the Kanji character "停" is used instead of "止".


わたしは がっこうの まえで くるまを とめる
 wa ta shi wa ga k ko u no ma e de ku ru ma wo to me ru

Meaning: "I will stop my car in front of the school."

  わたしは: I
  がっこう: school
  のまえで: in front of
  くるま: car
  とめる(停める): stop

Like the example above, when we stop the car, "停める (tomeru)" is often used.

However, "止める(tomeru)" can also be used for a car.
So when you write "stopping a car" in Japanese, whichever is understandable.

Actually, in Japanese traffic signs, both "止" and "停" are used.
So you should remember both Kanji characters if you drive a car on Japanese streets.

6-3. Yameru (辞める)

We already learned "止める (yameru)" for saying "stop" or "quit".

However, when we quit our job, a different Kanji character must be used.

It is "辞める (yameru)".
As well as "止める (yameru)""辞める (yameru)" also means "quit".

However, it is only used when quitting a job.


わたしは らいしゅう しごとを やめる
 wa ta shi wa ra i shu u shi go to wo ya me ru

Meaning: "I will quit my job next week."

  わたしは: I
  らいしゅう: next week
  しごと: job
  やめる(辞める): quit

In this case, the Kanji "止" can't be used.
"辞" needs to be used when quitting a job.

7. Conclusion

Please remember three verbs for saying "stop".

  • "Tomaru" is an intransitive verb to say "stop"!

  • "Tomeru" is a transitive verb to say "stop temporarily"!

  • "Yameru" is a transitive verb to say "quit"!

In addition to the three verbs, please remember the information below!

  • When you stop walking, "tachidomaru" is used!

  • When it stops raining, "yamu" is used!

  • "Tomaru" also means that insects or small animals are sitting or landing!

  • When the "tomaru" means "stay", "泊まる (tomaru)" is used, instead of "止まる (tomaru)"!

  • When you stop a car, "停める (tomeru)" can be used, instead of "止める (tomeru)"!

  • When we quit our job, "辞める (yameru)" is used, instead of "止める (yameru)"!

How confusing!!!!haha

By the way, Tomaru is in the range of JLPT N5 test!
If you want to know more verbs for JLPT N5, including Tomaru, please check the video below!

I hope this article helps you to study Japanese!
Please enjoy studying Japanese!


  1. Oh boy, this is not easy to remember all the various "STOPS" but I will remember now that I cannot simply use "stop" in Japanese conversations. I am so glad to be able to learn from you as the text language books don;t explain so much interesting details with photos like your blog!

    Domo Arigatogozaimus Kosuke-San!

    1. I am sorry, but this topic was difficult to explain simply...(^^;)
      Thank you always for reading, TWILIGHT MAN-san!

  2. The explanation is just great! Thank you very much!

    1. Thank you for reading my article!
      I hope it helps you!(^^)

  3. I googled the difference between yamu and tomaru and found this page. It is clear and concise with straightforward and practical examples. Thanks Kosuke-san!

    1. Thank you for your comment!(^^)
      I'm glad that this article helped you!

      Thank you!

  4. woooow
    how difficult it is just to say stop in Japanese
    btw thank you so much for this useful information
    I still learning Japanese in basic. Hehe

    1. Yeah, it's kind of confusing...haha
      Thank you for reading my blog, FRISCA-san!(^^)

  5. This was very helpful even thought there's a lot to take in. I'm glad to see there are many like me who wanted to learn the differences between yameru and tomeru

    1. Thank you for reading my blog, PHILLIAM-san!(^^)
      I hope this helps you!

  6. Thank you for the information! So when someone is reading aloud, and they see 「止める」, how are they to know whether to read it as やめる or とめる? Is it always clear from the context which is the intended reading? Thanks!

    1. Thank you for reading!(^^)
      We need to judge it from the context...(^^;)
      However, in Japanese news paper, the use 止める for とめる, and they use hiragana for やめる in order to prevent misunderstanding...

  7. Thank you so much for this lesson, really helpful!!

    1. Thank you!
      I'm glad that this article helped you(^^)