Unintended Actions

This is the first of many useful tools that will become essential in your day-to-day conversations. We will now learn how to express an action that has taken place unintentionally often with unsatisfactory results. This is primarily done by the verb 「しまう」. Let’s look at an example.


  1. 康介 【こう・すけ】 – Kousuke (first name)
  2. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  3. やる (u-verb) – to do
  4. しまう (u-verb) – to do something by accident; to finish completely

Kousuke: Did you do homework?

Alice: Oh no! (I screwed up!)

Using 「しまう」 with other verbs


  1. しまう (u-verb) – to do something by accident; to finish completely
  2. その – that (abbr. of それの)
  3. ケーキ – cake
  4. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 – everything
  5. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  6. 毎日 【まい・にち】 – everyday
  7. キロ – kilo
  8. 太る 【ふと・る】 (u-verb) – to become fatter
  9. ちゃんと – properly
  10. 痩せる 【や・せる】 (ru-verb) – to become thin
  11. 結局 【けっ・きょく】 – eventually
  12. 嫌 【いや】 (na-adj) disagreeable; unpleasant
  13. こと – event, matter
  14. する (exception) – to do
  15. ごめん – sorry
  16. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait
  17. 金魚 【きん・ぎょ】 – goldfish
  18. もう – already
  19. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) – to die

When 「しまう」 is used in this sense, it is normal to attach it to the te-form of another verb to express an action that is done or happened unintentionally. As is common with this type of grammar, the tense is decided by the tense of 「しまう」.

  1. そのケーキ全部食べてしまった
    Oops, I ate that whole cake.
  2. 毎日ケーキ食べて2キロ太ってしまいました
    I ate cake everyday and I (unintentionally) gained two kilograms.
  3. ちゃんと食べないと、痩せてしまいますよ。
    If you don’t eat properly, you’ll (unintentionally) lose weight you know.
  4. 結局ことさせてしまった
    In the end, I (unintentionally) made [someone] do something distasteful.
  5. ごめん待たせてしまって
    Sorry about (unintentionally) making you wait!
  6. 金魚もう死んでしまった
    The goldfish died already (oops).

Using the casual version of 「~てしまう


  1. しまう (u-verb) – to do something by accident; to finish completely
  2. 金魚 【きん・ぎょ】 – goldfish
  3. もう – already
  4. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) – to die
  5. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  6. いい (i-adj) – good
  7. 皆 【みんな】 – everybody
  8. どっか – somewhere (abbr. of どこか)
  9. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  10. そろそろ – gradually; soon
  11. 遅い 【おそ・い】 (i-adj) – late
  12. なる (u-verb) – to become
  13. また – again
  14. 遅刻 【ち・こく】 – tardiness
  15. する (exception) – to do
  16. ごめん – sorry
  17. つい – just (now); unintentionally
  18. お前 【お・まえ】 – you (casual)
  19. 呼ぶ 【よ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to call

In casual speech, the 「~てしまう」 is often substituted by 「~ちゃう」 while 「~でしまう」 is substituted by 「じゃう」. Both 「~ちゃう」 and 「~じゃう」 conjugate just like regular u-verbs.

  1. 金魚もう死んじゃった
    The goldfish died already.
  2. もう帰っちゃっていい
    Is it ok if I went home already?
  3. みんなどっか行っちゃったよ。
    Everybody went off somewhere.
  4. そろそろ遅くなっちゃうよ。
    It’ll gradually become late, you know.

There is yet another very colloquial version of 「~てしまう」 and 「~でしまう」 where it is replaced by 「~ちまう」 and 「~じまう」 respectively. Unlike the cuter 「~ちゃう」 and 「~じゃう」 slang, this version conjures an image of rough and coarse middle-aged man.

  1. また遅刻しちまったよ。
    Darn, I’m late again.
  2. ごめんついお前呼んじまった
    Sorry, I just ended up calling you unconsciously.

Another meaning of 「しまう


  1. しまう (u-verb) – to do something by accident; to finish completely
  2. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  3. やる (u-verb) – to do

You may have noticed that 「しまう」 has another definition meaning “to finish something completely”. You may want to consider this a totally separate verb from the 「しまう」 we have covered so far. Occasionally but not usually, 「しまう」 will have this meaning rather than the unintended action.

  • 宿題やってしまいなさい
    Finish your homework completely.

Honorific and Humble Forms

Japanese can be roughly separated into three levels of politeness: casual, polite, and honorific/humble. So far, we have already gone over the polite forms using 「~です」 and 「~ます」. We will now cover the next level of politeness using honorific and humble forms. You will often hear this type of language in any customer/consumer type situations such as fast food counters, restaurants, etc. For now, the first thing to remember is that the speaker always considers himself/herself to be at the lowest level. So any actions performed by oneself are in humble form while actions performed by anyone else seen from the view of the speaker uses the honorific form.

Set Expressions


  1. する (exception) – to do
  2. なさる – to do (honorific)
  3. 致す 【いた・す】 (u-verb) – to do (humble)
  4. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  5. いらっしゃる – to be; to go; to come (honorific)
  6. おいでになる – to be; to go; to come (honorific)
  7. 参る 【まい・る】 (u-verb) – to go; to come (humble)
  8. いる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate)
  9. おる (ru-verb) – to exist (animate) (humble)
  10. 見る 【み・る】 (ru-verb) – to see
  11. ご覧になる 【ご・らん・になる】 – to see (honorific)
  12. 拝見する 【はい・けん・する】 – to see (humble)
  13. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  14. 伺う 【うかが・う】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen (humble)
  15. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  16. おっしゃる – to say (honorific)
  17. 申す 【もう・す】 (u-verb) – to say (humble)
  18. 申し上げる 【もう・し・あ・げる】 (u-verb) – to say (humble)
  19. あげる (ru-verb) – to give; to raise
  20. 差し上げる 【さ・し・あ・げる】 (ru-verb) – to give; to raise (humble)
  21. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  22. 下さる 【くだ・さる】 – to give (honorific)
  23. もらう (u-verb) – to receive
  24. いただく (u-verb) – to receive; to eat; to drink (humble)
  25. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  26. 召し上がる 【め・し・あ・がる】 (u-verb) – to eat; to drink (honorific)
  27. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  28. 知る 【し・る】 (u-verb) – to know
  29. ご存じ 【ご・ぞん・じ】 – knowing (honorific)
  30. 存じる 【ぞん・じる】 (ru-verb) – to know (humble)
  31. ござる – to be (formal)
  32. もう – already
  33. 仕事 【し・ごと】 – job
  34. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  35. 推薦状 【すい・せん・じょう】 – letter of recommendation
  36. 書く 【か・く】 (u-verb) – to write
  37. どちら – which way
  38. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  39. 私 【わたし】 – me; myself; I
  40. レポート – report
  41. 失礼 【しつ・れい】 – discourtesy

The difficult part of learning honorific and humble language is that there are a number of words that have separate verbs for honorific and humble forms. Anything that does not have its own special expression fall under the general rules of humble and honorific conjugations that we will cover next.

Honorific and Humble Verbs
Plain Honorific Humble
する なさる 致す
行く いらっしゃるおいでになる 参る
来る いらっしゃるおいでになる 参る
いる いらっしゃるおいでになる おる
見る ご覧なる 拝見する
聞く 伺う
言う おっしゃる 申す申し上げる
あげる 差し上げる
くれる 下さる
もらう いただく
食べる 召し上がる いただく
飲む 召し上がる いただく
知っている ご存知(です) 存じる

Honorific verbs with special conjugations

A number of these verbs do not follow the normal masu-conjugation rules and they include: 「なさる」、「いらっしゃる」、「おっしゃる」、「下さる」、 and 「ござる」 (which we will soon cover). For all masu-form tenses of these verbs, instead of the 「る」 becoming a 「り」 as it does with normal u-verbs, it instead becomes an 「い」. All other conjugations besides the masu-form do not change from regular u-verbs.

Plain ます-form Past ます-form Negative ます-form Past-negative ます-form
なさる なさます なさました なさません なさませんでした
いらっしゃる いらっしゃます いらっしゃました いらっしゃません いらっしゃませんでした
おっしゃる おっしゃます おっしゃました おっしゃません おっしゃませんでした
下さる 下さます 下さました 下さません 下さませんでした
ござる ござます ござました ござません ござませんでした

Examples of honorific form

We can now begin to see that 「ください」 is just a special conjugation of 「下さる」 which is the honorific version of 「くれる」. Let’s look at some actual examples. Since these examples are all questions directed directly to someone (second person), they all use the honorific form.

  1. アリスさん、もう召し上がりましたか。
    Alice-san, did (you) eat already?
  2. 仕事なさっているんですか。
    What are you doing at work?
  3. 推薦状書いてくださるんですか。
    You’re going to give me the favor of writing a recommendation letter?
  4. どちらからいらっしゃいましたか。
    Where did you come from?
  5. 今日は、どちらいらっしゃいますか。
    Where are you going today?

Examples of humble form

The following examples are all actions done by the speaker so they all use the humble form.

  1. はキムと申します
    As for me, (people) say Kim. (I am called Kim.)
  2. 書いたレポート見ていただけますか。
    Will I be able to receive the favor of getting my report looked at?
  3. 失礼致します
    Excuse me. (lit: I am doing a discourtesy.)

Other substitutions


  1. こちら – this way
  2. 私 【わたし】 – me, myself, I
  3. 部屋 【へ・や】 – room
  4. ござる – to be (formal)
  5. お手洗い 【お・て・あら・い】 – bathroom
  6. この – this (abbr. of これの)
  7. ビル – building
  8. ~階 【~かい】 – counter for story/floor
  9. いい (i-adj) – good
  10. よろしい (i-adj) – good (formal)
  11. 悪い 【わる・い】 (i-adj) – bad
  12. すいません – sorry (polite)
  13. ごめん – sorry (casual)
  14. ごめんなさい – sorry (polite)
  15. すみません – sorry (polite)
  16. 申し訳ありません 【もう・し・わけ・ありません】 – sorry (formal)
  17. 言い訳 【い・い・わけ】 – excuse
  18. 恐れ入ります 【おそ・れ・い・ります】 – sorry (formal)
  19. 恐縮です 【きょう・しゅく・です】 – sorry (formal)
  20. ~様 【~さま】 – honorific name suffix
  21. ~さん – polite name suffix
  22. お客様 【お・きゃく・さま】 – customer (formal)
  23. 神様 【かみ・さま】 – god (formal)

In addition to these set expressions, there are some words that also have more polite counterparts. Probably the most important is the politer version of 「ある」, which is 「ござる」. This verb can be used for both inanimate and animate objects. It is neither honorific nor humble but it is a step above 「ある」 in politeness. However, unless you want to sound like a samurai, 「ござる」 is always used in the polite form: 「ございます」.

By extension, the politer version of 「です」 is 「でございます」. This is essentially the masu-form conjugation of 「でござる」, which comes from 「である」 literally meaning, “to exist as” (to be covered much later).


  1. こちらは、部屋です
    Over here is my room.
  2. こちらは、部屋ございます
    This way is my room.
  1. お手洗いこのビル二階あります
    The bathroom is on the second floor of this building.
  2. お手洗いこのビル二階ございます
    The bathroom is on the second floor of this building.

Other examples include 「いい」, which is more formally expressed as 「よろしい」. There are also six different ways to say, “I’m sorry” (not counting 「悪いね」 or slight inflection changes like 「すいません」).

Successively politer expressions for apologizing:

  1. ごめん
  2. ごめんなさい
  3. すみません
  4. 申し訳ありません。 (申し訳 is the humble form of 言い訳)
  5. 恐れ入ります
  6. 恐縮です。

In addition, the politest suffix for names is 「」, one level above 「さん」. You won’t be using this suffix too often in actual speech even if you speak to that person in honorific/humble speech. However, expect to use it when writing letters even to people you are somewhat familiar with. Also, service people such as cashiers or waitresses/waiters will normally refer to the customer as 「お客様」. Of course, royalty and deities are always accompanied by 「」 such as 「神様」.

Honorific and Humble Conjugations


  1. お酒 【お・さけ】 – alcohol
  2. お茶 【お・ちゃ】 – tea
  3. お金 【お・かね】 – money
  4. 音読み 【おん・よ・み】 – Chinese reading
  5. 意見 【い・けん】 – opinion
  6. ご飯 【ご・はん】 – rice; meal
  7. 訓読み 【くん・よ・み】 – Japanese reading
  8. 仕事 【し・ごと】 – job
  9. お好み焼き 【お・この・み・や・き】 – okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancake)
  10. お土産 【お・みやげ】 – souvenir
  11. 返事 【へん・じ】 – reply
  12. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  13. 見える 【み・える】 (ru-verb) – to be visible
  14. なる (u-verb) – to become
  15. もう – already
  16. 帰る 【かえ・る】 (u-verb) – to go home
  17. 店内 【てん・ない】 – store interior
  18. 召し上がる 【め・し・あ・がる】 (ru-verb) – to eat; to drink (honorific)
  19. 二重敬語 【に・じゅう・けい・ご】 – redundant honorific
  20. 下さる 【くだ・さる】 – to give (honorific)
  21. 少々 【しょう・しょう】 – just a minute; small quantity;
  22. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait
  23. こちら – this way
  24. ご覧下さい 【ご・らん・くだ・さい】 – please look (honorific)
  25. 閉まる 【し・まる】 (u-verb) – to close
  26. ドア – door
  27. 注意 【ちゅう・い】 – caution
  28. よろしい (i-adj) – good (formal)
  29. 願う 【ねが・う】 (u-verb) – to wish; to request
  30. する (exception) – to do
  31. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  32. こと – event, matter
  33. ある (u-verb) – to exist (inanimate)
  34. すみません – sorry (polite)
  35. 千円 【せん・えん】 – 1,000 yen
  36. 預かる 【あず・かる】 – to look after; to hold on to;
  37. 致す 【いた・す】 (u-verb) – to do (humble)

For all other verbs without set expressions, there are conjugation rules to change them into honorific and humble forms. They both involve a common practice of attaching a polite prefix 「」. In Japanese, there is an practice of attaching an honorific prefix 「」 to certain (not all) nouns to show politeness. In fact, some words like 「お酒」、 「お茶」、or 「お金」 come with this prefix so often that it’s become practically the word itself. In general, 「」 is written in hiragana as either 「ご」 for words read as 音読み (e.g. ご意見ご飯) or 「お」 for words read as 訓読み (e.g. お金、 お仕事). In fact, you may have been using this prefix already without realizing it like 「お好み焼き」 or 「お土産」. There are some exceptions to this rule such as 「お返事」. Luckily since 「」 is rarely written in kanji, identifying the exceptions should not really be a problem.

Honorific Form

The honorific form of verbs that are not among the set honorific expressions given above can be formed in two different ways.

Honorific Conjugation 1: お + stem + に + なる

This kind of makes sense if you think of it as a person becoming the honorific state of a verb. All subsequent conjugations follow the normal rules of conjugating the u-verb 「なる」. To be honest, this type of sentence formulation is rarely used.

  • 先生見えなりますか。
    Have you seen the teacher?

Honorific Conjugation 2: お + stem + です

  1. もう帰りですか。
    You’re going home already?
  2. 店内召し上がりですか。
    Will you be dining in?

Service people want to be extra polite so they will often use this type of “double honorific” conjugation or 二重敬語 (in this case, the honorific 「召し上がる」 combined with the honorific conjugation). Whether it’s necessary or grammatically proper is another story.

Using 「ください」 with honorifics

You can also use 「下さい」 with a honorific verb by replacing 「になる」 with 「ください」. This is useful for when you want to ask somebody to do something but still use a honorific verb.

Yet another often-used expression.

  • 少々待ちください。- Please wait a moment.

Similarly, with 「ご覧なる」, you simply replace 「になる」 with 「ください」.

  • こちらご覧下さい
    Please look this way.

This works for other nouns as well. For example, riding the trains…

  • 閉まるドア注意下さい
    Please be careful of the closing doors.

Humble Form

Humble verbs are formed in the following fashion.

Humble Conjugation: お + stem + する

You’ve probably already heard the first example many times before but now you know exactly where it comes from.

  1. よろしく願いします
    I properly make request.
  2. 先生聞きしたいことありますが。
    Teacher, there’s something I want to ask you.
  3. すみません待たせしました
    Sorry, I made you wait (causative form).
  4. 千円から預かりいたします
    We’ll be holding on [from?] your 1000 yen.

You’ll hear something like example 4 when, for example, you need to get change after paying 1000 yen. Again, the 二重敬語 where 「する」 has been converted to the humble 「致す」 form when it’s already in the お+stem+する humble form. Some Japanese people complain that this makes no sense and that 「から」 should really be 「を」.

Making honorific requests


  1. 下さる 【くだ・さる】 – to give (honorific)
  2. いらっしゃる – to be; to go; to come (honorific)
  3. なさる – to do (honorific)
  4. おっしゃる – to say (honorific)
  5. する (exception) – to do
  6. いらっしゃいませ – please come in (formal)
  7. いらっしゃい – please come in
  8. ありがとうございました – thank you (polite)
  9. また – again
  10. 越す 【こ・す】 – to go over
  11. どうぞ – please
  12. ゆっくり – slowly

We learned how to make polite requests using 「~ください」 in a previous section and we just looked at how to use honorific verbs with requests as well. However, there is yet another way to make requests using honorific verbs. This grammar only applies to the honorific verbs with special 「~ます」 conjugations that we just covered. This includes 「下さる」、「いらっしゃる」、「なさる」、and 「おっしゃる」. I’ve never actually seen this used with 「おっしゃる」, but it is grammatically possible.

Making requests for honorific actions

  • Conjugate the honorific verb to the special masu-conjugation and replace the last 「す」 with 「せ」

    1. 下さ下さいま下さいま
    2. いらっしゃいらっしゃいまいらっしゃいま
  • An abbreviated and less formal version of this is to simply remove the 「ます」 after conjugating to the special masu-form

    1. 下さ下さいます下さい
    2. いらっしゃいらっしゃいますいらっしゃい

Now you finally know where grammar such as 「なさい」 and 「してください」 actually came from. Let’s look at a few quick examples.


You’ll probably hear this one a million times every time you enter some kind of store in Japan.

  • いらっしゃいませ
    Please come in!

However, a middle-aged sushi chef will probably use the abbreviated version.

  • いらっしゃい
    Please come in!

Some more examples…

  1. ありがとうございましたまた越しくださいませ
    Thank you very much. Please come again.
  2. どうぞ、ごゆっくりなさいませ
    Please take your time and relax.

Causative and Passive Verbs

We will now learn the last two major types of verb conjugations: causative and passive forms. These two verb conjugations are traditionally covered together because of the notorious causative-passive combination. We will now go over what all these things are and how they are used.

Causative Verbs


  1. あげる (ru-verb) – to give; to raise
  2. くれる (ru-verb) – to give
  3. 全部 【ぜん・ぶ】 – everything
  4. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  5. 着る 【き・る】 (ru-verb) – to wear
  6. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) – to believe
  7. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) – to sleep
  8. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) – to wake; to occur
  9. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) – to come out
  10. 掛ける 【か・ける】 (ru-verb) – to hang
  11. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) – to throw away
  12. 調べる 【しら・べる】 (ru-verb) – to investigate
  13. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak
  14. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  15. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】 (u-verb) – to swim
  16. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to play
  17. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait
  18. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  19. 直る 【なお・る】 (u-verb) – to be fixed
  20. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) – to die
  21. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  22. する (exception) – to do
  23. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  24. 先生 【せん・せい】 – teacher
  25. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  26. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  27. たくさん – a lot (amount)
  28. 質問 【しつ・もん】 – question
  29. 今日 【きょう】 – today
  30. 仕事 【し・ごと】 – job
  31. 休む 【やす・む】 (u-verb) – to rest
  32. その – abbreviation of 「それの」
  33. 部長 【ぶ・ちょう】 – section manager
  34. いい (i-adj) – good
  35. 長時間 【ちょう・じ・かん】 – long period of time
  36. 働く 【はたら・く】 (u-verb) – to work
  37. トイレ – bathroom; toilet
  38. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go

Verbs conjugated into the causative form are used to indicate an action that someone makes happen. Like Captain Picard so succinctly puts it, the causative verb means to “make it so”. This verb is usually used in the context of making somebody do something. The really confusing thing about the causative verb is that it can also mean to let someone do something. Or maybe this is a different type of verb with the exact same conjugation rules. Whichever the case may be, a verb in the causative form can mean either making or letting someone do something. The only good news is that when the causative form is used with 「あげる」 and 「くれる」, it almost always means to “let someone do”. Once you get used to it, surprisingly, it becomes quite clear which meaning is being used when.

  1. 全部食べさせた
    Made/Let (someone) eat it all.
  2. 全部食べさせてくれた
    Let (someone) eat it all.
Causative Conjugation Rules
Here are the conjugation rules for the causative form. All causative verbs become ru-verbs. 

  • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「させる」.
  • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「せる」 instead of 「ない」.
  • Exception Verbs:
    1. する」 becomes 「させる
    2. くる」 becomes 「こさせる」.
Sample ru-verbs
Plain Causative
食べ 食べさせる
信じ 信じさせる
起き 起きさせる
掛け 掛けさせる
捨て 捨てさせる
調べ 調べさせる
Sample u-verbs
Plain Causative
Exception Verbs
Positive Causative
する させる
くる こさせる


Here are some examples using the causative verb. Context will usually tell you which is being meant, but for our purposes we will assume that when the verb is used with 「あげる」 and 「くれる」(ください) it means “to let someone do” while it means, “to make someone do” when used without it.

  1. 先生学生宿題たくさんさせた
    Teacher made students do lots of homework.
  2. 先生質問たくさん聞かせてくれた
    Teacher let (someone) ask lots of questions.
  3. 今日仕事休ませてください
    Please let me rest from work today. (Please let me take the day off today.)
  4. その部長は、よく長時間働かせる
    That manager often makes (people) work long hours.

When asking for permission to let someone do something, it is more common to use the 「~てもいい」 grammar.

  1. トイレ行かせてくれますか。
    Can you let me go to the bathroom? (Sounds like a prisoner, even in English)
  2. トイレ行っていいですか。
    Is it ok to go to the bathroom? (No problem here)

A Shorter Alternative


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. する (exception) – to do
  4. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  5. 同じ 【おな・じ】 – same
  6. こと – event, matter
  7. 何回 【なん・かい】 – how many times
  8. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  9. お腹 【お・なか】 – stomach
  10. 空く 【あ・く】 (u-verb) – to become empty
  11. 何 【なに/なん】 – what
  12. くれる (ru-verb) – to give

There is a shorter version of the causative conjugation, which I will go over for completeness. However, since this version is mostly used in very rough slang, you are free to skip this section until you’ve had time to get used to the regular form. Also, textbooks usually don’t cover this version of the causative verb.

The key difference in this version is that all verbs become an u-verbs with a 「す」 ending. Therefore, the resulting verb would conjugate just like any other u-verb ending in 「す」 such as 「話す」 or 「指す」. The first part of the conjugation is the same as the original causative form. However, for ru-verbs, instead of attaching 「させる」, you attach 「さす」 and for u-verbs, you attach 「す」 instead of 「せる」. As a result, all the verbs become an u-verb ending in 「す」.

Shortened Causative Form 

  • This form is rarely used so you may just want to stick with the more traditional version of the causative form.
    • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「さす」.
    • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「す」 instead of 「ない」.
    • Exception Verbs:
      1. する」 becomes 「さす
      2. くる」 becomes 「こさす


  1. 同じこと何回言わす
    Don’t make me say the same thing again and again!
  2. お腹空いているんだから、なんか食べさしてくれよ。
    I’m hungry so let me eat something.

Passive Verbs


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  2. 着る 【き・る】 (ru-verb) – to wear
  3. 信じる 【しん・じる】 (ru-verb) – to believe
  4. 寝る 【ね・る】 (ru-verb) – to sleep
  5. 起きる 【お・きる】 (ru-verb) – to wake; to occur
  6. 出る 【で・る】 (ru-verb) – to come out
  7. 掛ける 【か・ける】 (ru-verb) – to hang
  8. 捨てる 【す・てる】 (ru-verb) – to throw away
  9. 調べる 【しら・べる】 (ru-verb) – to investigate
  10. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak
  11. 聞く 【き・く】 (u-verb) – to ask; to listen
  12. 泳ぐ 【およ・ぐ】 (u-verb) – to swim
  13. 遊ぶ 【あそ・ぶ】 (u-verb) – to play
  14. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait
  15. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  16. 直る 【なお・る】 (u-verb) – to be fixed
  17. 死ぬ 【し・ぬ】 (u-verb) – to die
  18. 買う 【か・う】 (u-verb) – to buy
  19. する (exception) – to do
  20. 来る 【く・る】 (exception) – to come
  21. ポリッジ – porridge
  22. 誰 【だれ】 – who
  23. 皆 【みんな】 – everybody
  24. 変 【へん】 (na-adj) – strange
  25. 言う 【い・う】 (u-verb) – to say
  26. 光 【ひかり】 – light
  27. 速い 【はや・い】 (i-adj) – fast
  28. 超える 【こ・える】 (ru-verb) – to exceed
  29. 不可能 【ふ・か・のう】 – impossible
  30. 思う 【おも・う】 (u-verb) – to think
  31. この – this (abbr. of これの)
  32. 教科書 【きょう・か・しょ】 – textbook
  33. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) – numerous
  34. 人 【ひと】 – person
  35. 読む 【よ・む】 (u-verb) – to read
  36. 外国人 【がい・こく・じん】 – foreigner
  37. 質問 【しつ・もん】 – question
  38. 答える 【こた・える】 (ru-verb) – to answer
  39. パッケージ – package
  40. あらゆる – all
  41. 含む 【ふく・む】 (u-verb) – to include

Passive verbs are verbs that are done to the (passive) subject. Unlike English style of writing which discourages the use of the passive form, passive verbs in Japanese are often used in essays and articles.

Passive Conjugation Rules
All passive verbs become ru-verbs. 

  • For ru-verbs: Replace the last 「る」 with 「られる」
  • For u-verbs: Change the last character as you would for negative verbs but attach 「れる」 instead of 「ない」.
  • Exception Verbs:
    1. する」 becomes 「される
    2. くる」 becomes 「こられる


Sample ru-verbs
Plain Passive
食べ 食べられる
信じ 信じられる
起き 起きられる
掛け 掛けられる
捨て 捨てられる
調べ 調べられる
Sample u-verbs
Plain Passive
Exception Verbs
Positive Passive
する される
くる こられる




  1. ポリッジ誰か食べられた
    The porridge was eaten by somebody!
  2. みんなだと言われます
    I am told by everybody that (I’m) strange.
  3. 速さ超えるのは、不可能だと思われる
    Exceeding the speed of light is thought to be impossible.
  4. この教科書多く読まれている
    This textbook is being read by a large number of people.
  5. 外国人質問聞かれたが、答えられなかった
    I was asked a question by a foreigner but I couldn’t answer.
  6. このパッケージには、あらゆるものが含まれている
    Everything is included in this package.

Using passive form to show politeness


  1. どう – how
  2. する (exception) – to do
  3. 領収証 【りょう・しゅう・しょう】 – receipt
  4. 明日 【あした】 – tomorrow
  5. 会議 【かい・ぎ】 – meeting
  6. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go

While we will go over various types of grammar that express a politeness level above the normal -masu/-desu forms in the next lesson, it is useful to know that using passive form is another more polite way to express an action. In Japanese, a sentence is usually more polite when it is less direct. For example, it is more polite to refer to someone by his or her name and not by the direct pronoun “you”. It is also more polite to ask a negative question than a positive one. (For example, 「しますか?」 vs. 「 しませんか?」) In a similar sense, using the passive form makes the sentence less direct because the subject does not directly perform the action. This makes it sound more polite. Here is the same sentence in increasing degrees of politeness.

  1. どうする? – What will you do? (lit: How do?)
  2. どうします? – Regular polite.
  3. どうされます?- Passive polite.
  4. どうなさいます?- Honorific (to be covered next lesson)
  5. どうなさいますでしょうか?- Honorific + a lesser degree of certainty.

Notice how the same sentence grows longer and longer as you get more and more indirect.


  1. 領収証どうされますか?
    What about your receipt? (lit: How will you do receipt?)
  2. 明日会議行かれるんですか?
    Are you going to tomorrow’s meeting?

Causative-Passive Forms


  1. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  2. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  3. 朝ご飯 【あさ・ご・はん】 – breakfast
  4. 日本 【に・ほん】 – Japan
  5. お酒 【お・さけ】 – alcohol
  6. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  7. こと – event, matter
  8. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) – numerous
  9. あいつ – that guy (derogatory)
  10. ~時間 【~じ・かん】 – counter for span of hour(s)
  11. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait
  12. 親 【おや】 – parent
  13. 宿題 【しゅく・だい】 – homework
  14. する (exception) – to do

The causative-passive form is simply the combination of causative and passive conjugations to mean that the action of making someone do something was done to that person. This would effectively translate into, “[someone] is made to do [something]”. The important thing to remember is the order of conjugation. The verb is first conjugated to the causative and then passive, never the other way around.

Causative-Passive Conjugation Form
The causative-passive verb is formed by first conjugating to the causative form and then by conjugating the result to the passive form.

  1. 食べ食べさせ食べさせられる
  2. かせ行かせられる


  1. 朝ご飯食べたくなかったのに、食べさせられた
    Despite not wanting to eat breakfast, I was made to eat it.
  2. 日本では、お酒飲ませられること多い
    In Japan, the event of being made to drink is numerous.
  3. あいつ二時間待たせられた
    I was made to wait 2 hours by that guy.
  4. 毎日宿題させられる
    I am made to do homework everyday by my parent(s).

A Shorter Alternative


  1. 行く 【い・く】 (u-verb) – to go
  2. 立つ 【た・つ】 (u-verb) – to stand
  3. 食べる 【た・べる】 (ru-verb) – to eat
  4. 話す 【はな・す】 (u-verb) – to speak
  5. 学生 【がく・せい】 – student
  6. 廊下 【ろう・か】 – hall, corridor
  7. 日本 【に・ほん】 – Japan
  8. お酒 【お・さけ】 – alcohol
  9. 飲む 【の・む】 (u-verb) – to drink
  10. こと – event, matter
  11. 多い 【おお・い】 (i-adj) – numerous
  12. あいつ – that guy (derogatory)
  13. ~時間 【~じ・かん】 – counter for span of hour(s)
  14. 待つ 【ま・つ】 (u-verb) – to wait

Going along with the shorter causative alternative, you can also use the same conjugation for the causative-passive form. I won’t cover it in too much detail because the usefulness of this form is rather limited just like the shorter causative form itself. The idea is to simply used the shortened causative form instead of using the regular causative conjugation. The rest is the same as before.

Shortened causative-passive form examples
First conjugate to the shortened causative form. Then conjugate to the passive form.

  1. 行か行かされる
  2. 立た立たされる

This form cannot be used in cases where the shorter causative form ends in 「さす」, in other words, you can’t have a 「さされる」 ending.

Verbs that cannot be used in this form
Examples of verbs you can’t use in this form. 

  1. 食べ食べさす食べさされる
  2. さすさされる


  1. 学生廊下立たされた
    The student was made to stand in the hall.
  2. 日本では、お酒飲まされること多い
    In Japan, the event of being made to drink is numerous.
  3. あいつ二時間待たされた
    I was made to wait 2 hours by that guy.

Chapter Overview

I have decided to call this next section “Special Expressions” only because with the exception of the first few lessons, most of the grammar here applies to more specific areas than the grammar we have covered so far. These special expressions, while individually not vital, are, as a collection, necessary for regular everyday conversations. We are slowly entering the stage where we’ve built the toolbox and we now need to acquire the little tools that will make the toolbox complete. Now that we covered most of the base, it is time to look at all the little itty gritty bits. You are welcome to skip around the lessons, however; the examples will assume that you have gone over all previous sections.