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


[る1]Verb() + せる
[る5]Verb → (すわ) + せる
[う]Verb(うた) + せる
[く]Verb(ある) + せる
[す]Verb(はな) + せる
[つ]Verb() + せる
[ぬ]Verb() + せる
[ぶ]Verb() + せる
[む]Verb(やす) + せる
[ぐ]Verb(およ) + せる



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About Verb[せる・させる]

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)野菜(やさい)()させる
    I make my son eat vegetables.
  • 友達(ともだち)にトマト(そだ)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)(うた)(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)(わたし)携帯(けいたい)(こわ)したので(あたら)()わせます
    Since my friend broke my phone, I will make them buy me a new one.
As usual, する and () have special conjugation rules. する will be replaced completely by させる (in a similar way to how できる completely replaces する in the 'potential' form). () will become ()させる.
  • (いや)仕事(しごと)後輩(こうはい)させる
    I let my juniors do the work that I don't want to do.
  • (おや)心配(しんぱい)させることは、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)()させるのはよくない
    It is not good to make people come to the company late at night.
  • (いぬ)()、こっちに()させる
    To call the dog and make it come to you.
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.




    (Someone) makes the kid who doesn't want to go to school go.


    I woke my friend up at four in the morning and made him go home.


    I make/let students enjoy studying.


    I was gotten mad at because I insistently made my friend go to a haunted house.


    My older brother made my younger sister cry.

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Verb[せる・させる] – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (10 in total)

  • Asher


    Thanks for letting us know about this! I have just added ‘Colloquial’ to the tense information for this question. Ideally all questions should tell you in the tense information if a colloquial form is expected, but it appears that this information was missing from this question! Sorry for the inconvenience

  • rexd


    Oh, awesome! Thanks for that.

  • BestUsedCarSales


    Weird question.

    In English, we use a construction that is something like “I made myself practice guitar every day.” And this implies that is was difficult, and we didn’t always want to be doing it.

    Does this translate into Japanese, where you could use a reflexive pronoun to imply this. Example, “jibun wo saseru” = “I made myself do it.”

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