The Most Common Ways to Say Stop in Japanese
If we want to describe things stopping in English, there’s not much we need to know beyond the word “stop” and its conjugations. However, in Japanese, it’s a bit more complicated.
You will use different words depending on what is stopping, how it’s being stopped, and when it’s being stopped. To truly master how to say stop in Japanese, there are quite a few terms you’ll need to commit to memory.
The 3 common ways to say “stop” in Japanese:
- とまる (Tomaru): To be stopped
- とめる (Tomeru): To stop (something)
- やめる (Yameru): To stop/quit
We’ll go over each word above in detail and help you master other, more advanced ways to say “stop” in Japanese. Let’s get started!
1. とまる (Tomaru): To Be Stopped
One of the most common verbs for “to stop” in Japanese is とまる (tomaru). This is an intransitive verb – a verb that does not have a direct object.
We can use とまる (tomaru) in sentences to describe something: indirectly stopping, coming to a stop, or being suspended.
Since とまる (tomaru) expresses an indirect action, it will often be preceded by the が (ga) particle in sentences.
とまる (tomaru) can be written in hiragana for any sentence involving something stopping. However, there are 4 different kanji for more specific situations. Each kanji has a different meaning. Let’s check them out.
4 Different Kanji Characters For とまる (Tomaru): 4 Different Meanings
1. 止まる (Tomaru)
止まる (tomaru) is the most common way of writing とまる (tomaru) in Japanese and can be used for most situations that involve something stopping. The kanji “止,” which can also be read as “shi,” is found in numerous words, verbs, and compounds relating to something stopping.
For example, 立ち止まる (tachidomaru). This word is a combination of 止まる (tomaru) in the masu stem form and the verb for standing: 立つ (tatsu). 立ち止まる (tachidomaru) means to stop in one’s tracks, and is just one of many commonly used Japanese words that contain 止まる (tomaru).
(Kanashii eiga o mita ato, namida ga tomaru koto wa nakatta.)
My tears couldn’t stop falling after I saw a sad movie.
(Shinzōga tomaruhodo bikkuri shita.)
I was so surprised that my heart almost stopped.
2. 停まる (Tomaru)
停まる (tomaru) is most often used in situations describing vehicles such as buses, cars, trains, and planes stopping or parking.
The kanji “停,” which can also be read as “tei,” can be found in many Japanese words and compounds that involve vehicles stopping, such as the word for bus stop: バス停 (basu tei).
(Ekimae ni takushī ga tomaru.)
A taxi stops in front of the station.
(Kono densha wa kyūkō dakara tsugi wa Tokyo eki ni tomaru.)
Because this is an express train, it will make a stop at Tokyo Station next.
3. 留まる (Tomaru)
留まる (tomaru) is used in situations describing a subject stopping, remaining, or staying in a place. The verb is commonly used in the phrase 目に留まる (me ni tomaru), which means to catch one’s eyes or attention onto something.
(Sanpo shiteiru toki, nemuru neko ni me ga tomatta.)
While out for a stroll, my eyes stopped to look at a sleeping cat.
(Karewa itsumo hadena fuku o kiteiru node tōku karademo me ni tomaru.)
He always wears flashy clothes, so he catches my attention even from a distance.
4. 泊まる (Tomaru)
泊まる (tomaru) is used specifically in situations describing someone stopping or staying at an inn, hotel, or other types of lodging.
The kanji “泊,” which can also be read with its on-yomi reading, “haku,” can be used as a counter for the number of nights you will stay at a hotel. For example, 三泊 (san paku) means a three-night stay.
*Note: Combining a number with 泊 can be tricky. Depending on the number, 泊 can be read as haku, paku, or ppaku. Check out our complete guide to Japanese counters to learn all about this.
Let’s take a look at a few sentence examples that use とまる (tomaru):
(Konya wa hotel ni tomaru tsumori desu.)
I plan to stop over at a hotel tonight.
(Tomaru tokorowa mitsukarimashitaka?)
Did you find a place to stay?
The kanji 泊まる (tomaru) is also used to describe when a ship or boat is anchored in a port.
(Fune ga minato ni tomaru.)
A ship is anchored in a port.
(Takusan no gyosen ga minato ni tomatteiru.)
There are a lot of fishing boats anchored at the harbor.
As shown in the examples above, the verb とまる (tomaru) can be used in informal and formal situations to talk about things stopping in Japanese. However, we need to use a different word when describing someone directly stopping something. Next, let’s go over the transitive verb for “to stop” in Japanese.
2. とめる (Tomeru): To Stop (Something)
とめる (tomeru) is a transitive verb – a verb that has a direct object. We can use とめる (tomeru) to describe something directly stopping, being stopped, or prevented by the subject in the sentence. Since とめる (tomeru) expresses a direct action, it will often be preceded by the を (o) particle in sentences. Much like とまる (tomaru), とめる (tomeru) can be written with the four kanji listed above to specify what kinds of objects are being stopped.
To be stopped
To stop something
To be stopped
To stop something
To be stopped
To stop something
To be stopped
To stop something
Let’s take a look at how the above sentence examples change when we use とめる (tomeru):
(Kanashii eiga o mita ato, namida o tomeru koto ga dekinakatta.)
I couldn’t stop my tears from falling after seeing a sad movie.
(Ekimae ni takushī o tomeru.)
(The driver) stops the taxi at the destination.
(Sanpo shiteiru toki, nemuru neko ni me o tometa.)
While out for a stroll, I stopped to notice a sleeping cat.
(Konya, kono hotel wa 60 nin no kyaku o tomeru koto ga dekimasu.)
The hotel can accomodate 60 guests tonight.
Transitive Verbs Vs. Intransitive Verbs: How To Tell Them Apart
Here’s a tip! An easy way to figure out whether a Japanese verb is intransitive or transitive is by looking at the verb’s ending.
Verbs that end with –aru such as とまる (tomaru), はじまる (hajimaru), and おわる (owaru) will generally be intransitive verbs. On the other hand, verbs that end with –eru such as とめる (tomeru), はじめる (hajimeru), and おえる (oeru) are usually transitive verbs. As always, there are a rare few exceptions to this rule that you should look out for when you come across them in your Japanese studies!
3. やめる (Yameru): To Stop/Quit
やめる (yameru) is another common way to say “to stop” in Japanese. Like とめる (tomeru), this is also a transitive verb that describes something directly stopping by a subject in a sentence.
However, やめる (yameru) refers specifically to an activity or process stopping, being discontinued, or canceled. As with most transitive verbs in Japanese, やめる (yameru) is preceded by the を (o) particle in sentences. You will often see this verb written in hiragana, but there are a couple of ways to write it in kanji. Of course, the meaning will slightly differ depending on the kanji used.
やめる (Yameru) Kanji and Meanings
Let’s look the different kanji for やめる as well as similar words with the same kanji character.
1. 止める (Yameru)
止める (yameru) and やめる (yameru) are relatively interchangeable and used in both casual and formal situations. Although there is no real difference in meaning between the kanji or hiragana forms, certain verb conjugations are more often written in hiragana. For example, exclamations of “Stop it/Stop that!” such as やめて (yamete) and やめろ (yamero).
(Ayamaru kara, mou naku no o yamete kure yo.)
I’ll apologize, so stop crying already.
(Kenkō no tame ni tabako o yameta.)
I stopped smoking for my health.
2. 辞める (Yameru)
辞める (yameru) specifically refers to someone resigning, retiring, or quitting their job. The kanji 辞 (ji) is used in many Japanese words and compounds relating to quitting a job/position, including the word for resignation: 辞職 (jishoku).
(John-san wa shigoto o yameyou to omotteiru no.)
John is thinking of quitting his job.
(Tanaka-san, kongetsu de kaisha yameru rashii yo.)
I heard Tanaka-san is leaving our company this month.
3. 止す (Yosu)
止す (yosu) has the same meaning as 止める (yameru), although it is not as commonly used. That being said, you may hear its imperative conjugation 止せ (yose) quite a bit in Japanese movies or shows. 止せ (yose) is a very blunt and gruff sounding exclamation for “Stop!” that is best used in the most dramatic of situations – that’s why it’s perfect for television!
(Guchi wa yose!)
Cut it out with your grumbling!
(Sonna ii kata wa yose!)
Stop talking like that!
4. 止む (Yamu)
止む (yamu) is often used to describe weather such as rain, snow, or wind stopping. 止む (yamu) is also found in the phrase 止むを得ず (yamu o ezu), which is an adverb meaning unavoidably or inevitably.
(Ame ga yamu made koko de machimashō.)
Let’s wait here until the rain stops.
(Akachanga naki yanda.)
The baby stopped crying.
Other Ways to Say Stop in Japanese
Here are some other useful words that can be used to say “stop” in Japanese.
1. 絶える (Taeru): To Be Stopped/Discontinued
絶える (taeru) is another intransitive verb for “to stop.” This word can describe something indirectly being stopped, cut off, or extinct. What sets this verb apart from 止まる (tomaru) is its ability to be used in technical sentences describing populations or species going extinct or dying out.
絶える (taeru) is also often used in its negative conjugation 絶えない (taenai) to express something being never-ending. We can also conjugate the word into the adverb 絶えず (taezu), which means constantly or continually.
(Fuun na hito ni wa konnan ga taenai n da.)
Hardships never end for the misfortunate.
(Kono resutoran wa ninki no omise de okyakusan ga tsune ni taenai.)
This restaurant is popular and the number of customers (who go there) never ends.
2. 途絶える (Todaeru): To Come To An End
When 絶える (taeru) is combined with the kanji 途 (to), it becomes the verb 途絶える (todaeru). Like 絶える (taeru), this verb is also used in sentences to express things stopping or coming to an end. However, the main distinction between the two is 途絶える (todaeru) invokes the feeling of something abruptly being stopped or cut off.
(Nia-chan wa kareshi kara no renraku ga ikinari todaeta.)
Nia stopped hearing from her boyfriend all of a sudden.
(Kinkyūjitaisengen no sei de Shibuya eki shūhen mo hito no nami ga todaeteiru.
The waves of people that can be seen around Shibuya Station also have stopped due to the state of emergency.
3. とどまる (Todomaru): To be Stopped in Place
とどまる (todomaru) is an intransitive verb for “to stop” which is often used in sentences to describe someone or something remaining, being stopped, or confined to a place. What separates this word from the other verbs for stop mentioned above is its nuance for expressing a subject being left behind or staying put somewhere.
Much like とまる (tomaru), とどまる (todomaru) can be written with the kanji 止 (shi) or 留 (ryu). However, it is most commonly written in hiragana.
(Haha no i ni sakaratte Mari-san wa byōin ni todomatta.)
She stayed at the hospital despite her mother’s wishes.
(Tenshoku o kangaeteita kedo, mō sukoshi ima no kaisha ni todomaru koto ni shita.)
I was thinking of finding a new job but decided to stay with my current employer for a little while more.
4. とどまるところを知らない (Todomaru Tokoro O Shiranai): Showing No Signs Of Stopping
とどまる (todomaru) is also used in the phrase とどまるところを知らない (todomaru tokoro o shiranai). We can use this expression in more eloquent contexts to describe something showing no signs of stopping or knowing no bounds.
(Ongakuka no ongaku e no jо̄netsu wa todomaru tokoro o shiranai.)
There is no end to a musician’s passion for music.
(Kaigai ni okeru nihon no anime no ninki wa, mohaya todomaru tokoro o shiranai.)
The popularity of Japanese anime overseas is no longer showing any signs of stopping.
5. とどめる (Todomeru): To Stop in Place
とどめる (todomeru) can be considered the transitive version of the verb とどまる (todomaru), it is used in sentences to describe a subject directly remaining, stopping, or confining something to a place.
However, you may often see this verb paired with the に (ni) particle in situations expressing something being kept in a more abstract place – like a person’s thoughts or in history. For example, the phrase 記憶にとどめる (kioku ni todomeru) is commonly used to describe something being remembered or kept in mind.
(Kono hi o eien ni kioku ni todomeru darо̄ .)
I’m sure I’ll remember this day forever.
(Kono ie wa chiku hyakunen dakedo, ima demo mukashi no sugata o todometeiru.)
This house is 100 years old but still retains its original appearance.
6. 押しとどめる (Oshitodomeru)
とどめる (todomeru) can be combined with the masu stem from the verb for pushing: 押す (osu). This creates the verb 押しとどめる (oshitodomeru), which is a very commonly used word to describe something being stopped or held back.
(Yūmeijin no bodyguard wa cameraman no gunshū o oshitodometa.)
The celebrity’s bodyguards held back the mob of cameramen.
(Kare ga okotte dete ikō to shita node oshitodometa.)
I stopped him when he got angry and tried to leave.
7. 阻む (Habamu): To Stop/Obstruct
The last common Japanese verb for “to stop” we will cover is 阻む (habamu). 阻む (habamu) describes something being stopped, prevented, blocked, or opposed.
While this verb can be used in casual situations, such as talking about something blocking one’s path, it is primarily used in technical situations regarding law or societal issues. The kanji 阻 (so) can be found in many words and compounds relating to these more specific contexts.
(Boxer wa aite no kougeki o habanda.)
The boxer blocked his opponent’s attack.
(Aite chīmu no renshō o habamu tame ni shubi o kyōka shita .)
In order to stop our opponent’s winning streak, we strengthened our defense.
8. 阻止 (Soshi)
A common compound that uses the kanji 阻 (so) is 阻止 (soshi). This word is used mainly in technical situations to talk about bills or legislation being blocked or prevented from passing into law.
(Seijika no doryoku no okagede, hōan ga soshi saremashita.)
Thanks to the efforts of the politicians, the bill was prevented from passing.
(Kōsō manshon no kensetsu keikaku o soshi suru tame ni, kinrin no jūmin ga hantai undō o hajimeta.)
In order to stop construction of the high rise condo, nearby residents have started to protest.
Nouns for Stop
While the verbs covered above are very useful for talking about stopping, the following nouns can also be commonly used to describe things stopping in Japanese:
To stop; To sever; To break off; To divide
Often used in technical situations
(A-koku wa B-koku tono kokkō o danzetsu suru to sengen shita.)
Country A announced that it will break diplomatic relations with country B.
To stop/break off relations
Used in all situations to describe breaking things off with family/friends/lovers
(Ōgenka no sue, naka no yokatta tomodachi to zekkō suru koto ni shita.)
After a big argument, I’ve decided to break off relations with a close friend.
To come to a stop; To be interrupted; To be suspended
Used in all situations to describe vehicles or actions coming to a halt
(Genryō busoku ni yori ichiji seisan o teishi shita.)
Due to a shortage of materials, we stopped the production temporarily.
To stop; To be stopped
Used in technical situations to describe vehicles stopping or making stops
(Tsugi no densha wa toueki ni wa teisha shimasen.)
The next train won’t stop at this station.
To stop; To be canceled; To be called off
Used in all situations to describe events being canceled or called off
(Ame no tame ensoku wa chūshi ni narimashita.)
Due to the rain, the school trip has been canceled.
To stop; To stand still; In repose
Often used in technical situations
(Fue no oto ga kikoetara sono ba de seishi shite kudasai.)
Please stop and don’t move when you hear the sound of the whistle.
Katakana for stop
Often used in casual situations
(Sagyō o ittan sutoppu shite ohiru yasumi ni shimashō.)
Let’s stop the operation for now and take a lunch break.
As we can see in the chart above, many of these words use the same 絶 (zetsu), 停 (tei), and 止 (shi) kanji found in the verbs covered in the article. These kanji compounds can be made into verbs by simply adding the word for doing: する (suru) after them.
Other Words That Can Mean Stop
There are quite a few words in Japanese that can carry the nuance of something stopping, even if they aren’t usually defined that way. Let’s take a look at some of them:
1. 終わる (Owaru)
The verb 終わる (owaru) is commonly defined as “to end/finish.” However, 終わる (owaru) can be used in certain contexts to describe things stopping as well. When 終わる is preceded by the に (ni) particle in a sentence, it can be used to say an event or activity is stopping at a certain point.
(Resutoran de chōshoku menu ga jū ni ji ni owarimasu.)
The restaurant stops serving the breakfast menu at noon.
(Kono eiga wa suiyōbi ni owarimasu.)
They will stop showing this movie on Wednesday.
2. 切れる (Kireru)
The verb 切れる (kireru) has many definitions, including to break or to run out of something. When preceded by the が (ga) particle in a sentence, this word can also be used to describe things as having stopped working, such as electronics.
(Denki ga kireta mitai, hoka no heya o tsukaimashou ne.)
It looks like the lights have stopped working, let’s use a different room.
(Uchi no terebi wa totemo furukute tokidoki suicchi ga katte ni kireru.)
The TV we have at home is really old and sometimes it stops working by itself.
3. 済む (Sumu)
The verb 済む (sumu) means to finish/complete something. When the masu stem 済み (sumi) is used after a noun, it means something has been completed or finished. However, this can also carry the nuance of something being stopped in some cases.
(Shiyō zumi no kami o recycle shite kudasai.)
Please recycle paper you have stopped using.
(Shokuji ga sundara shokki o katazukete kudasai.)
Please put away the dishes after you finish your meal (after you finish eating).
4. 仕舞う (Shimau)
The verb 仕舞う (shimau) is commonly written in hiragana or occasionally in kanji to say something has finished, shut down, or been brought to a close.
In some cases, the masu stem 仕舞い (shimai) can be paired with the honorific お (o) to say an activity or event will stop or end.
Let’s take a look at some sentence examples that use these terms to say something is stopping:
(Kyō wa kore de oshimai da.)
Let’s stop here for today.
(Oshaberi wa oshimai ni shite jyugyō o hajimemashō.)
Let’s stop talking and start the lesson.
It’s important to remember that many more terms like these can be used in certain situations to talk about things stopping. Be sure to keep them in mind as you encounter them in your studies!
Who would’ve thought there could be so many different ways to say stop in a language? It can be a bit overwhelming trying to learn these various terms, along with their kanji and meanings – but don’t feel discouraged!
The first three verbs とまる (tomaru), とめる (tomeru), and やめる (yameru) covered above will be enough to talk about stopping in most basic situations. From there on, you can tackle the more specific lingo in the article to further expand your vocabulary. As you get more confident with what you’ve learned, try crafting your own Japanese sentences to describe things that are stopping!
Are you interested in learning more essential Japanese vocab? Check out our other free language lessons!