木が倒れた。

English Translation

The tree fell down.

would 落ちる be an inappropriate substitute for 倒れる?

@ericaw
倒れる and 落ちる are not interchangeable. The movement of 倒れる is rotating 90 degrees.

木が倒れた means the tree had been alive and vertically erect, and then horizontally collapsed. Or it’s not a living tree but a squared timber to build a house. The timber had been stalled vertically in a carpenter’s warehouse, and then it fell on the ground and is now lying down horizontally.

The only case I can imagine from your proposed sentence “木が落ちた” is that a carpenter accidentally dropped a squared timber from the second floor. The movement is the same as リンゴが落ちた (an apple fell off Issac Newton’s hand.)

I give similar examples:

男が倒れた = A man collapsed (while walking on a street etc. ) So, he is currently lying on the street.

男が落ちた = A man fell off a cliff and went down to a valley.

看板が倒れた (pron. かんばん) = A signboard had been standing vertically, and a strong wind made the signboard rotated 90 degrees so that we now cannot see what the message is on the signboard.

看板が落ちた = A signboard had been hanging on the second floor of a shop. Due to an earthquake, it fell down to the ground.

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