ておく Japanese Grammar Lesson
Grammar Type: Auxiliary Verb
Essential Meaning: Do X in advance / Do X as preparation / Do X for future convenience
- Verb て-Form + おく
- E.g. 話しておく [Speak in advance / Speak for future convenience]
- E.g. 食べておく [Eat in advance / Eat for future convenience]
- As a main verb, おく means “To put” or “To place“. But as an auxiliary verb, ておく means “To do X in advance and deliberately leave it in its current state for future convenience or in preparation for some future event“.
- When the main verb is in the causative form, ておく expresses the idea of deliberately letting someone or something remain in a certain state for some reason (e.g. “Let X remain asleep“). The reason for letting X do Y should be specified if it is not clear from context, because otherwise the causative sentence may be interpreted as forcing X to do Y.
- E.g. クリスは疲れているからしばらく寝させておこう。[Because Chris is tired, let’s let her sleep for a bit.]
- E.g. 飲みたいというのなら好きなだけ飲ませておきなさい。[If he says he wants a drink, let him drink as much as he likes.]
- E.g. *私はボブにビルを飲ませておいた。[I made Bob drink beer. / I let Bob drink beer.] Without specifying a reason for letting X do Y, it’s ambiguous whether the causee is being permitted to do X or being forced to do X.
- ておく is often contracted to とく in spoken Japanese.
- E.g. 見ておく becomes 見とく
- E.g. 読んでおく becomes 読んどく
明日パーティーをするのでビールを買っておいた。[Because I’m having a party tomorrow, I bought beer in preparation.]
今日は昼に客が来るので昼ごはんを早めに食べておいた。[Because a customer will come in the afternoon today, I ate lunch on the early side for the sake of convenience.]
来年日本へ行くから少し日本語を勉強しておきます。[Because I’m going to Japan next year, I’m studying a bit of Japanese in preparation.]
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