Grammar Info
N4 Lesson 6: 4/16

せる・させる (Causative)
To make/let/have (somebody do something)

either に or を can mark the doer

Structure
Casual
Formal
Examples:
[る1]Verb → 見 + せる
[る⁵]Verb → 座 + せる
[う]Verb → 歌 + せる
[く]Verb → 歩 + せる
[す]Verb → 話 + せる
[つ]Verb → 打 + せる
[ぬ]Verb → 死 + せる
[ぶ]Verb → 飛 + せる
[む]Verb → 休 + せる
[ぐ]Verb → 泳 + せる

Exceptions:
するさせる
くるこさせる
Examples:
[る1]Verb → 見 + せます
[る5]Verb → 座 + せます
[う]Verb → 歌 + せます
[く]Verb → 歩 + せます
[す]Verb → 話 + せます
[つ]Verb → 打 + せます
[ぬ]Verb → 死 + せます
[ぶ]Verb → 飛 + せます
[む]Verb → 休 + せます
[ぐ]Verb → 泳 + せます

Exceptions:
するさせます
くるこさせます
Details
Register Standard
使用域 一般
Information
In order to express that someone was ‘made to do’, or ‘let do’ something, the auxiliary verbs せる and させる will be used. The meaning that せる and させる will convey (when attached to a verb) is called 使役(しえき) (causative, employment, or using) in Japanese.
A common misconception is that せる and させる are standard conjugations of each verb. However, these auxiliary verbs should be thought of as having their own meaning, in a similar way to how たい, ない, , です, and other auxiliaries each have their own meanings.
In order to use these grammar structures, remove the る from る-Verbs, and then add させる. For う-Verbs, change the last kana to the あ sound kana from within the same column (except for う, which becomes わ), and then add せる (る becomes ら, む becomes ま, く becomes か, etc.).
  • 息子(むすこ)に野菜(やさい)食(た)べさせる
    I make my son eat vegetables.
  • 友達(ともだち)にトマト育(そだ)てさせる
    I make my friend grow tomatoes.
  • 忘年会(ぼうねんかい)先輩(せんぱい)たち後輩(こうはい)に歌(うた)歌(うた)わせた
    At the end of year party, the seniors made the juniors sing a song.
  • 友達(ともだち)私(わたし)携帯(けいたい)壊(こわ)したので、新(あたら)し 買(か)わせる
    Since my friend broke my phone, I will make them buy me a new one.
As usual, する and 来(く)る have special conjugation rules. する will be replaced completely be させる (in a similar way to how できる completely replaces する in the ‘potential’ form). 来(く)る will become 来(こ)させる.
  • 嫌(いや)仕事(しごと)後輩(こうはい)にさせる
    I let my juniors do the work that I don't want to do.
  • 親(おや)に心配(しんぱい)させることしてはいけない
    You should not do anything that would make your parents worry.
  • 夜遅(よるおそ)くに会社(かいしゃ)に来(こ)させるのはよくない
    It is not good to make people come to the company late at night.
  • 犬(いぬ)呼(よ)ん、こっちに来(こ)させる
    To call the dog and make it come to you.
Caution
With causative, either , or can mark the doer of the action that せる, or させる is linked to (not が). This is because the actual ‘doer’ of the action is considered to be the person that is making/letting someone perform that action. will usually imply that someone was ‘let’ do something, while implies ‘make’.
  • 誰か心配(しんぱい)させる
    To let someone worry about you.
  • 誰か心配(しんぱい)させる
    To make someone worry about you.
Fun Fact
Because the actual ‘doer’ in causative verb sentences will be marked with (as is always the case), the literal translation of せる and させる is closer to the following:
(A) が (B) 楽しませる - For (A) to cause fun ‘in’ (B).
(A) が (B) 楽しませる - For (A) to cause fun ‘through’ (B).
It is these standard meanings of the particles (a location) and (a target) that will create the ‘let’, or ‘make’ nuance when using せる, or させる.
Slow Male
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学校(がっこう)行(い)きたくない子(こ)行(い)かせる
(Someone) makes the kid who doesn't want to go to school go.
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友達(ともだち)朝(あさ)時(じ)起(お)こして、帰(かえ)らせた
I woke my friend up at four in the morning and made him go home.
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私(わたし)生徒(せいと)勉強(べんきょう)すること楽(たの)しませます
I make students enjoy studying.
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Books
Genki II 1st Edition
Page 202
みんなの日本語 II
Page 144 [CH 48]
Genki II 2nd Edition
Page 234
[DBJG] A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
Page 388
Tae Kim's Japanese Grammar Guide
Page 211
[AIAIJ] An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese
Page 53