Wild Nihongo!


てしまう Japanese Grammar Lesson

Grammar Type: Auxiliary Verb

Essential Meaning: Do X completely / Finish doing X / Accidentally do X


  • Verb て-Form + しまう
    • E.g. はなしてしまう [Completely finish speaking]
    • E.g. べてしまう [Completely finish eating]


  • しまう is an auxiliary verb that indicates the completion of some action. It is often paired with degree adverbs such as すっかり [Completely] or 全部ぜんぶ [All / Entirely]
    • E.g. マイクはすっかり日本語にほんごわすれてしまった。[Mike completely forgot Japanese.]
    • E.g. わたしっていた切符きっぷ全部ぜんぶ友達ともだちにあげてしまった。[Mike gave away all of his tickets to his friends.]
  • The past tense form てしまった can also express the idea that someone did something that they shouldn’t have done, or that something has happened that shouldn’t have happened. It can imply regret on the agent’s part or it can imply the speaker’s criticism or regret about someone else’s actions or something that has happened.
    • E.g. ジェリーはペギーのケーキをべてしまった。 [Jerry regrettably ate Peggy’s cake.]
    • E.g. わたしちがうバスにってしまった。[I accidentally took the wrong bus.]
    • E.g. あめってしまったのでピクニックにけなかった。[It unfortunately rained, so I wasn’t able to go to the picnic.]
  • Whether てしまった is interpreted as regret / criticism or simply as the completion of an action depends on the context.
    • E.g. ぼくはおさけんでしまった。[I finished drinking sake / I (regrettably) drank sake.]
  • In casual speech, てしまう and でしまう are often contracted as ちゃう and じゃう respectively.
    • E.g. はなしてしまう = はなしちゃう
    • E.g. んでしまう = んじゃう
  • ちまう and じまう are another contracted form that is generally only used by male speakers.
    • E.g. はなしてしまう = はなしちまう
    • E.g. んでしまう = んじまう
  • The difference between てしまう and the regular past tense verb form (e.g. しました) is that てしまう expresses the full completion of an action independent of the time frame. In other words, it is not limited to the past tense.
    • E.g. ここにいておくとジムがべてしまうよ。[If I leave this here, Jim will eat it.] This example describes a complete action that will occur in the future.
    • E.g. *ここにいておくとジムがべたよ。 [If I leave this here, Jim ate it.] This construction does not makes sense. The regular て-Form would better express this past-tense causal relationship.
  • てしまう is also similar to ~おわる. The differences are:
    • (1) ~おわる indicates the action of finishing something, while てしまう indicates the state of some action being completed.
      • E.g. わたしほんわった。[I completed the action of reading the book.]
      • E.g. わたしほんんでしまった。[I am in the state of having read the book in its entirety.]
    • (2) てしまう cannot occur with specific time phrases, but ~おわる can.
      • E.g. 昨日きのうそのほんわった。[I finished reading that book yesterday.]
      • E.g. *昨日きのうそのほんんでしまった。[Yesterday, I completely read that book.] てしまう cannot be used with specific time phrases.
      • E.g. 今朝けさ9にやっとレポートをわった。 [This morning at 9 AM I finally finished writing my report.]
      • E.g. *今朝けさ9にやっとレポートをいてしまった。[This morning at 9 AM I finally completely wrote my report.] てしまう cannot be used with specific time phrases.
    • (3) しまう can be used with non-controllable verbs such as わすれる [To forget], while ~おわる cannot.
      • E.g. ぼくはナンシーの住所じゅうしょわすれてしまった。[I accidentally forgot Nancy’s address.]
      • E.g. *ぼくはナンシーの住所じゅうしょわすわった。[I completed the action of forgetting Nancy’s address.]

Example Sentences:

池田いけだくんは三日みっかでそのほんんでしまった。[Ikeda-kun completely finished reading that book in three days.]

わたしはルームメートのミルクをんでしまった。[I accidentally drank my roommate’s milk.]

もう宿題しゅくだいをしてしまいましたか。[Have you completely finished doing your homework?]

わたし今日中きょうじゅうにそのレポートをいてしまおうとおもっている。[I think I will completely finish writing that report by the end of today.]

はやくごはんべてしまいなさい。 [Finish eating quickly.]

シチューをつくりすぎてしまいました。[I accidentally made too much stew.]

WILD Examples:

At 1:25, listen for this line: すべてをあげてしまうのはもったいないから…あげない![If I totally completely give up everything it would be a waste, so I won’t!] In this context, あげてしまう refers to completely giving up one’s virginity.
The first line of this song goes: 今日きょうもいつもの睡眠不足すいみんぶそくあたまいたくなっちゃう [Today I am sleep-deprived as usual, and I regrettably have a headache]
At 1:53, listen for this line: 永遠えいえんはもうなかすぎてしまったみたい [It appears that eternity has (regrettably) already passed the halfway mark]

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