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させる / せる / させられる (Causative)

させる / せる / させられる (Causative)

させる / せる / させられる (Causative) Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary Verb

Essential Meaning: Make X do Y / Cause X to do Y / Allow X to do Y


  • Group 1 Verbs: Negative Form + せる
    • E.g. はなさせる [Make X talk / Let X talk]
  • Group 2 Verbs: Stem + させる
    • E.g. べさせる [Make X eat / Let X eat]
  • Irregular Verbs:
    • る = させる [Make X go / Let X go]
    • する = させる [Make X do / Let X do]


  • させる is the causative verb form, which expresses the idea that someone or something (i.e. the causer) causes or allows someone or something (i.e. the causee) to do something. Typically, the causer is marked by in main clauses and by in subordinate clauses. The causer must be equal or higher in social status compared to the causee.
    • E.g. *わたし先生せんせいにパーティーにさせるつもりだ。[I intend to allow the teacher to go to the party.] This sentence is unacceptable because the speaker cannot cause, force, or allow someone of higher social status to do something.
  • When the main verb is intransitive:
    • When the main verb is intransitive, the causee can be marked by either を (Direct Object) or by に (Passive / Causative), depending on the situation. に (Passive / Causative) is generally used to mark the causee when the causee takes some action intentionally and volitionally (i.e. they have agency and they are not forced). を (Direct Object), on the other hand, can be used regardless of the causee’s volition.
      • E.g. ちちわたしをむりやりパーティーへかせた。[My father forced me to go to the party.] In this example, に (Passive / Causative) would be unacceptable because the speaker is forced to go to the party by his or her father (i.e. he or she has no choice).
      • E.g. わたしはハンカチを湿しめらせた。[I dampened my handkerchief.] In this example, に (Passive / Causative) would be unacceptable because the handkerchief is an object that can not take volitional action.
      • E.g. わたしいやがる息子むすこをむりやりおよがせた。[I forced my son, who hates swimming, to swim.] In this case, it is clear from context that the son is being forced to swim.
      • E.g. わたし息子むすこきなだけおよがせた。 [I let my son swim as much as he wanted.] In this case, it is clear from context that the son is being allowed to swim.
      • E.g. 秋子あきこ勉強べんきょうはもうしたくないとったがわたし彼女かのじょ大学だいがくかせることにした。[Even though Akiko said that she didn’t want to study any more, I decided to make her go to university.] The context is that Akiko doesn’t want to study, but she is made to study.
      • E.g. 明子あきこはもっと勉強べんきょうしたいとったので、わたし彼女かのじょ大学だいがくかせることにした。 [Because Akiko said that she wanted to study more, I decided to allow her to go to university.] The context here is that Akiko wants to study, and she is allowed to do so.
  • When the main verb is transitive:
    • When the main verb is transitive, the cause can only be marked by に (Passive / Causative) because を can not appear more than once in a clause.
      • E.g. 一郎いちろう雪子ゆきこにビールをませた。[Ichiro forced Yukiko to drink a beer. / Ichiro allowed Yukiko to drink a beer.] In this case, the verb is transitive and is used to mark the direct object, so the causee must be marked by .
      • E.g. 一郎いちろう雪子ゆきこにむりやりビールをませた。[Ichiro forced Yukiko to drink a beer.] In this case, marks the direct object, and marks the causee, even thought the action is non-volitional. The presence of the adverb むりやり [Against one’s will] clearly suggests that Yukiko is being forced to drink the beer.
  • Whether the causee takes the action willingly or unwillingly and whether the causation is permissive or coercive is determined via context. Sometimes, auxiliary verbs that represent giving and receiving (e.g. てあげる, てくれる, てもらう, et cetera) may be used to clarify whether or not the the causee takes the action willingly. Additionally, unwillingness to do something may be expressed via the causative-passive construction (more on that shortly).
    • E.g. わたし春子はるこをパーティーにかせてやった。[I did Haruko the favor of allowing her to go to the party.] In this case, てやる hints at the fact that the causation is done as an act of kindness and not as an act of coercion.
    • E.g. ちちわたしさけませてくれた。 [My father did me the favor of allowing me to drink beer.] In this case, てくれる hints at the fact that the causation is done as an act of kindness and not as an act of coercion.
  • Causative verbs conjugate as Group 2 verbs (i.e. はなさせる, はなさせない, はなさせて, はなさせた, et cetera).
  • There is a second way to conjugate causative verbs besides させる, and the grammatical construction is detailed below. This form explicitly conveys direct causation (i.e. “Cause X to Y“) rather than permissive / coercive causation (i.e. “Make / Allow X to do Y“). For example, べさす means “To feed” (i.e. “To cause X to eat“), whereas べさせる means “To make X eat” or “To let X eat“. In other words, it expresses causative situations that don’t necessarily imply permission or coersion.
    • Group 1: Negative Form + す
      • E.g. はなさす [Cause X to talk]
    • Group 2 verbs: Stem + さす
      • E.g. べさす [Cause X to eat]
    • Irregular Verbs:
      • E.g. る = さす [Cause X to come]
      • E.g. する = さす [Cause X to do]
    • E.g. Direct Causation: わたしはジムに果物くだものべさすつもりだ 。[I intend to feed Jim fruit (i.e. I intend to cause Jim to eat fruit).]
    • E.g. Permission / Coercion: わたしはジムに果物くだものべさせるつもりだ。[I intend to make Jim eat fruit. / I intend to allow Jim tot eat fruit.]
  • The causative and passive forms can be combined into the causative-passive form, which expresses the idea of “X is made to do Y“. The causative-passive form does not have a permissive connotation (i.e. it only has a coercive connotation). To put it another way, the causative-passive form expresses a situation where someone is made or forced to do something from the viewpoint of the forcee rather than the forcer. The causative-passive from is constructed by affixing the passive verb ending られる after the causative verb stem させ / せ. Together, these make the causative-passive endings させられる and せられる. Note that in the causative-passive construction, the indirect object (i.e. the causer) is marked by に (Passive / Causative) and the causee is marked by or .
    • E.g. Causative: ちちわたしあるいてかえらせた。[My father made me walk home. / My father allowed me to walk home.]
    • E.g. Causative-passive: わたしちちあるいてかえらせられた。[I was forced to walk home by my father.]
    • E g. Causative: 一男かずお夏子なつこさけませた。[Kazuo made Natsuko drink sake. / Kazuo let Natsuko drink sake.]
    • E.g. Causative-Passive: 夏子なつこ一男かずおさけませられた。[Natsuko was forced to drink sake by Kazuo.]

Example Sentences:

鈴木すずきさんはむすめ大学だいがくかせた。[Mr. Suzuki allowed his daughter to go to university.]

ちちいもうとにピアノをならわせた。[My father allowed my younger sister to learn to play the piano. / My father forced my younger sister to learn to play the piano.]

ひさわたしこまらせた。[Hisako made me have trouble.]

このゲームはジムにたせようとおもう。[I think I will allow Jim to win this game.]

友達ともだちわたしにチップをはらわせた。[My friend made me pay a tip.]

アンダーソンさんは子供こどもたちにきなだけアイスクリームをべさせた。[Mr. Anderson allowed the children to eat as much ice cream as they wanted.]

わたし冷蔵庫れいぞうこでミルクをこおらせた。[I made the milk freeze in the refrigerator.]

それはわたしにさせてください。[Let me do that.]

WILD Examples:

Listen to this line from 0:55: かす、おどらす、音楽おんがくかす、まどにもたれさす、たおれさす [Have her cry, have her dance, have her listen to music, have her lean against a window, have her collapse onto the ground] This is an example of direct causation. The girl isn’t permitted or coerced to do these actions, but she caused to do them by the speaker. The song is poking fun at the fact that that these actions are common music video tropes.
Listen for this line at 0:53: おれ欲張よくばり。でもおまえらに褒美ほうびとらせる [I’m greedy, but I will allow you all to take prizes.]

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