Japanese Causative Form – How to say “I am Allowed”, “I am Forced”, and “may I do?”

Posted by on February 18, 2020 – Japanese Study
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Ever get confused by Japanese causative form? It can be tricky to remember how to conjugate the verbs properly for different purposes. However, this article breaks it down into three simple ways you can use Japanese causative form to say “I am allowed”, “I force someone”, and “may I do?”.

In English, we use “let”, “allow”, or “make” to indicate if we have been permitted or forced to do something. However, since the Japanese language does not have these words, we conjugate the verb to specify intent.

A Quick Look at Japanese Causative Form

 

Phrases that Utilize Japanese Causative Form

 

I am allowed to do something

If for example, you want to tell a story about when you were allowed to do something, you can use a causative form verb + させる(saseru). The key difference between being allowed to do something and being forced to do something is indicated largely by the context surrounding the statement. So add くれる(kureru) or もらう(morau) at the end to indicate that you are the recipient of permission.

An easy format to remember for “I am allowed to do” is verb + させて + くれる

Example:

寿司を食べさせてくれた。
Sushi o tabesasete kureta
(I) was allowed to eat sushi.

フェラーリに乗らせてくれた。
Fera-ri ni norasete kureta
(Someone) let me ride in a Ferrari.

The particle shows who or what is letting you perform the action.

For example:
彼女に居酒屋へ行かせてもらった。
Kanojo ni izakaya e ikasete moratta
(My) girlfriend let me go to an izakaya.

I make someone do something

This looks similar to “I am allowed to do something” but the grammatical structure of the sentence changes. So remove くれる(kureru) or もらう(morau) to get rid of any indication that you are receiving a favor.

Example:

子供を早く眠らせた。
Kodomo o hayaku nemuraseta
(I) made my kids go to sleep early.

彼を仕事から早めに帰らせた。
Kare o shigoto kara hayameni kaeraseta
(I) forced him to go home early from work.

子供に野菜を食べさせる。
Kodomo ni yasai wo tabesaseru
(I) make (my) children to eat vegetables.

The above example is tricky because it can also translate to “I allow my children to eat vegetables”. However, context clues the listener to what the speaker intends.

So for example:

子供にケーキを食べさせる。
Kodomo ni ke-ki wo tabesaseru
(I) let (my) children to eat cake.

Like the previous example, this translates to either “let” or “force”, but the context implies the former.

May I do something?

Using causative form Japanese in this way makes a request sound more polite. If you aren’t familiar, the plain form of asking for permission is typically verb + してもいい? However, if you are interacting with a boss, a teacher, or someone worthy of respect, you can use the Japanese causative form to sound more polite. To do this just conjugate the verb to causative, and then add くれる?(casual), もらえますか?(formal), or if you want to be really polite: いただけますでしょうか?

Example: 

車を運転させてもらえますか?
Kuruma o unten sasete moraemasu ka
May I drive the car?

パソコンを使わせていただけますか?
Pasokon o tsukawasete itadakemasu ka
May I please use your computer?

外へ行かせてくれる?
Soto e ikasete kureru
Can you let me go outside?

So there you have it! These are 3 ways you can use Japanese causative form to say “I am allowed”, “I am forced” and “may I do?”!

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