By combining the 接続助詞（せつぞくじょし） て
, with the verb しまう
(sometimes written as 終（しま）う
), you are able to express that something was done ‘by accident’, ‘completely’, or ‘unfortunately’. These meanings may seem quite different, but we will discuss their similarities in a moment. Let’s look at a few examples of てしまう
Unfortunately, I easily get lost.
When there are a lot of snacks in my house, I completely eat them all, so I try not to buy them.
When there is ice-cream on the menu, I unfortunately order it.
I accidentally bite my tongue often.
As we can see, verbs that usually take で
instead of て
will be no different when using てしまう
will be shortened to a more casual form, which are often used in speech. These forms are as follows:
will become ちゃう
will become じゃう
Recently, I haven't been exercising, so I’m totally going to get fat.
Since the flowers will unfortunately die, don’t step on them.
is most frequently written in hiragana, て仕舞（しま）う
may also be seen. There is a slight nuance difference between these two kanji structures, but the primary meaning of しまう
will always be that ‘something has come to the point where ending/ending up in a specific state cannot be avoided’. This ‘no turning back point’ may be temporary (likely to be written as 仕舞（しま）う)
, or it may be permanent (likely to be written as 終（しま）う
Due to this ‘cannot be avoided’ nuance, しまう
often comes across as ‘totally’, as in ‘ah… I totally left the chicken in the oven for too long’. In these cases, it is simply expressing the speaker's exasperation that something is ‘too late’ to change. However, despite regularly being used negatively, てしまう
can also be used positively. In these cases it still has the nuance of ‘no turning back’.
Let's completely finish my homework before I start playing video games! (I'm going to completely finish my homework before I start playing video games)
Aoki senpai, let's completely finish the report that our boss has asked us to do before work is over.