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Grammar detail: あく, あける, ひらく, しめる, しまる, とじる etc.

あく, あける, ひらく, しめる, しまる, とじる etc.
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あく, あける, ひらく and some other forms all mean in some sense 'to open'. However, they cannot be used completely interchangeably. Since they can all be written with the same kanji , this can cause considerable confusion!
The first important distinction is between the *transitive* and *intransitive* forms. Transitive forms take an object: you 'open a door', whereas intransitive do not: 'the view opened before us'. As in English, each of these forms however, can be used both transitively and intransitively, so this distinction is not enough. However, in general あける and ひらく are used intransitively, whereas あく is usually transitive.
The next distinction is to do with the nature of what is being opened. The important issue here is
くうかん
(physical space). When the action in question joins, creates or modifies physical spaces, both ひらく and あける can be used. However, opening a book, an umbrella does not affect 'space' in the same way, and あける would be the natural choice.
The final distinction is to do with the specific subject matter. Depending on the precise context, specific terms are acceptable or not, or carry slightly different meanings. For example, while ひらく and あける could both be used to mean 'open a business', ひらく would tend to refer to the founding of the business, whereas あける would refer to opening for the day. Additionally, the terms might be written with different kanji. For example, く tends to be used for opening of doors and windows, く tends to be used for opening up of vacancies, and く tends to be used for periods of time.
In the same way とじる, しめる and しまる all mean 'to close'. しめる and とじる are transitive, whereas しまる is intransitive.
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Kanji used in this grammar

カイ   あ to (be) open   あける    ひら to open (something)   ひらける to open out (eg view)   
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2
クウ   から empty   あ to be empty   あける to empty, vacate   そら sky   
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2
カン   ケン   あいだ interval, between   ま space, room   
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1
メイ   ミョウ   あかり light   あかるい bright   あかるむ to brighten   あからむ to become luminous (at dawn)   あきらか obvious   あかす to lay bare   あ to open   あける to empty   
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2
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