How do I learn which verb to use with an object?

For example, how do I learn that when you're eating a soup, you shouldn't use "食べる", like you would in English, but instead "飲む"? And that you use "飲む" for medicine, even when it's not a liquid?

(If there's a technical term for which verb goes with which object, I'd like to know that as well)


1 Answer 1


More or less, you've just bumped into the fact that Japanese is not an encoding of English from a slightly different angle. Each Japanese word has a range of meaning that is completely independent of whatever the closest word is in English. Even the term "corresponding English word" is misleading.

Sometimes there's a logical explanation for a given collocation, but often enough there isn't.

In Japanese, we 飲む medicine. This is no more or less logical than English where we "take" medicine. (Well... historically speaking it's almost certainly more logical)

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