Take the 2-minute tour ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've seen a few sets of terminology when referring to the causative form, so for the basic case, I will use the following: instigator が agent に 〇〇 を v-させる。

In its most basic, text-book form, we have sentences such as:

子供にお弁当を買わせます。
後輩にビールを飲ませます。

Additionally, most textbooks mention something along the lines of [intransitive verbs or verbs that do not call for を] have an agent marked with を。(sorry for the ad-hoc bracketing, but it was hard to parse beforehand)

先生が私をトイレに行かせました。
その人が私をそこに座らせました。


  1. If I use 行く with another verb as its purpose, is を available to mark the agent? It seems like this should be the case since お弁当を should be connected to 行く。
    Compare:

    [a] 子供にお弁当を買いに行かせます。
    [b] 子供をお弁当を買いに行かせます。

  2. With intransitive verbs, must I use を to mark the agent?
    Compare:

    [a]その人は私をそこに座らせました。
    [b]その人は私にそこに座らせました。

  3. If I leave off the object of a transitive verb due to ellipses, may I mark the agent with を? (This seems strange, but I figured I'd ask.)
    Compare:

    [a]子供に買わせました。
    [b]子供を買わせました。

  4. If I use a transitive verb, but use を to mark something that is moved through or done with effort, may I still mark the agent with を?
    Compare:

    [a]子供に道を行かせます。
    [b]子供を道を行かせます。
    [c]彼に私のことを分からせます。
    [d]彼を私のことを分からせます。

  5. I've also heard mention that some speakers occasionally use を to mark the agent with intransitive verbs without any further details. Is this something that a seemingly random group of people does? Is it due to dialectal variation? Is there a pattern to when it can be done? Is there a difference in nuance?

    In the cases where I can choose between marking the agent with を or に, is there any difference in nuance?
    In a fairly old grammar, I've read that using に may soften the statement a little.

For each question with example sentences, I'm primarily concerned with a few things:

  1. Is this permissible? (would it sound incorrect in conversation look incorrect in writing)
  2. What would a native speaker usually do?

Of course I also welcome any information about dialectal variation, language change, etc!

share|improve this question
    
An interesting question. But can you really have two direct objects "noun を" in the same sentence for one verb, regardless of tense? –  dotnetN00b Nov 1 '11 at 4:54
2  
I think you are more likely to get (useful) answers if you break this question up into multiple smaller questions, or at least organize it somehow -- e.g. numbering the sentences, and indicating which you are asking about and which are just examples/context. For example, I can tell you that "お弁当に買いに行かせます" is not permissible, but I'm not exactly clear on what you're getting at there [お弁当を is the direct object of 買う here, not (directly) "connected to 行く"] and I don't have the time/confidence to comprehensively answer all of the issues you raise at once, so.. no answer, except for this comment. –  Matt Nov 1 '11 at 10:36
    
There are about twenty questions to be answered inside. More if you want to have "what would a native speaker usually do?" answered for each case. I'll have a go at answering this question, just need a lot of time to format it. –  Flaw Nov 1 '11 at 10:45
    
Sorry, the お弁当に was a typo. –  Nathan Ellenfield Nov 1 '11 at 13:15
add comment

1 Answer

First up I'll have to equate a few terms to avoid confusion.
I'm going to equate your concept of "instigator" with "causer". And your concept of "agent" as "causee"


(1) If I use 行く with another verb as its purpose, is を available to mark the agent? It seems like this should be the case since お弁当を should be connected to 行く。
Compare:

[a] 子供にお弁当を買いに行かせます。( (Causer/Instigator) let the child go to buy 弁当)
[b] 子供をお弁当に買いに行かせます。(Cannot be parsed)

This portion has nothing to do with the causative construction. 弁当に買う is grammatically wrong because 買う is a transitive verb. It has to be 弁当をかう.

Also, it is okay to have two s in the sentence because they are different s. 子供に marks it as a relational/indirect object. 買いに marks purpose of action. (Also take a look at sawa's answer to another question)

Now lets look at 1[a]. Is available to mark the agent?

No. This is because you cannot have more than one appearing in a clause. The causee (in your case the "agent") can be marked only by because has already been used once in 弁当を買う


(2) With intransitive verbs, must I use を to mark the agent?
Compare:

[a]その人は私をそこに座らせました。(That person let me sit there)
[b]その人は私にそこに座らせました。(That person let me sit there)

EDIT: (My intuition says that そこに座らせます is fine, but 私にそこに座らせます is not. I think it should be 私にそこで座らせます instead, or else I'd have two s performing "indirect object" role. Please someone let me know in the comments if I got this portion right/wrong)

Yes 私を has to be used if you want to maintain the use of そこに.


(3) If I leave off the object of a transitive verb due to ellipses, may I mark the agent with を? (This seems strange, but I figured I'd ask.)
Compare:

[a]子供に買わせました。( (Causer/Instigator) let the child buy (something) )(Assuming sufficient context)
[b]子供を買わせました。( (Causer/Instigator) let (Somebody) buy the child)

Again nothing to do with the causative construction. 子供を買う means "to buy the child" and not what I think you think it means.


(4) If I use a transitive verb, but use を to mark something that is moved through or done with effort, may I still mark the agent with を?
Compare:

[a]子供に道を行かせます。
[b]子供を道を行かせます。
[c]彼に私のことを分からせます。
[d]彼を私のことを分からせます。

No. As in (1), you cannot have を appearing more than once in a clause.

EDIT: In 4[c] and 4[d], I dont think they're grammatically correct. 分かる is an intransitive verb i.e. it cannot be ことを分かる. I think a better way to express it would be:

[c'] 彼に私のこと​{について・にかんして}分からせます。
[d'] 彼を私のこと​{について・にかんして}分からせます。


(5) I've also heard mention that some speakers occasionally use を to mark the agent with intransitive verbs without any further details. Is this something that a seemingly random group of people does? Is it due to dialectal variation? Is there a pattern to when it can be done? Is there a difference in nuance?

In the cases where I can choose between marking the agent with を or に, is there any difference in nuance?
In a fairly old grammar, I've read that using に may soften the statement a little.

Choosing to use or can mean different things. The exception to this rule is that you cannot use more than once in a clause.

The difference between and lies in the agent/causee's volition. 

When is used, the causee does the action in line with his volition.

When is used, it is independent of the causee's volition. This means it can have the nuance of being forced. (Although may not always be the case, it depends on context)

So (2)[b] (if grammatical) means that "you" intended to sit there, and that person let you. (2)[a] can also mean the same thing, but it can also mean that that person forced you to sit there.

Now two questions are begging to be asked:

  1. "When we have no choice but to use because has already been used once, how do we know if the action is in line with the causee's volition or not?"
  2. "Then how do we express "being forced to ~" unambiguously?"

The answer to 1. is that we can't. We have no choice but to guess from the context of which the sentence is being used.

And 2. To express "being forced to ~" we can use the causative-passive construction:

その人は私をそこに座らせられる。(That person made me sit there)

share|improve this answer
    
There are times where we know that it is in line with the causee's volition, such as when giving/receiving verbs like くれる and もらう are used. その人は私をそこに座られてくれました。 –  Nathan Ellenfield Nov 1 '11 at 13:10
    
You can also definitely use を with わかる. It can be used to marks something which the agent makes a conscious effort to understand something as in: ジャックはリンダの気持ちをわかろうとしない。 However, I'm not 100% positive that using it with the causative is permissible or straightforward. –  Nathan Ellenfield Nov 1 '11 at 13:15
    
@NathanEllenfield I'm not aware of the use of を with intransitive verbs. Is 分かる an exception case or can it be induced onto other intransitive verbs as well? Also thanks for pointing it out, I'll read up on it. –  Flaw Nov 1 '11 at 14:00
    
I did not check the whole post, but その人は私をそこに座らせられる means “That person can make me sit there,” not “That person made me sit there.” –  Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 2 '11 at 2:46
    
@TsuyoshiIto looks like i got the order wrong then. It should be ~raresaseru instead of ~saserareru? But the "rareru" in ~saserareru is interpreted as "passive" instead of "potential" right? Because I'm not familiar with a ~raresaseru construction. –  Flaw Nov 2 '11 at 2:50
show 4 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.