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I know that they both mean "finish". But I wonder if there are situations or contexts where you can use one but not the other.

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Maybe 済む should be added in too. 済ませる seems to be a different verb altogether and not the causative form of 済む nor the potential form of 済ます. – Flaw Mar 19 '12 at 4:44
I think 終わる is intransitive and 済ませる is transitive. Should it be 終わらせる and 済ませる (or 済む and 終わる)? – cypher Mar 19 '12 at 4:45
Hmm.. I'd say ~との関係を終わらせる/~とは終わった(break up with~) but not ~との関係を済ませる/~とは済んだ... and I think 話を終わらせる can mean the same as 話を済ませる but can have a different meaning depending on the situation... (I can't think of anything more right now but there must be a lot more examples.) – user1016 Mar 19 '12 at 7:46
@Chocolate: I think we both know that your comment should be really be an answer :) – dotnetN00b Mar 19 '12 at 13:03
@cypher: This says that 終わる is transitive and intransitive. – dotnetN00b Mar 19 '12 at 17:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

終わる/済む = intransitive. "to end/to come to an end/to be over/to finish etc."
終わらせる/終える/済ませる/済ます = transitive. "to finish/to end/to complete etc."

終わらせる sounds to me like "to make(force) something finish/to put an end to something", while 済ませる sounds like "to let something finish/to let something be over", and I think 済ませる is more used when you're talking about finishing something unfavourable.

We can say "~~との関係を終わらせる"(dump~~/break up with~~)/"~との関係は終わった"(broke up with~~) but not "~~との関係を済ませる"/"~~との関係は済んだ".

I think "(~~と/との)話を終わらせる" and "(~~と/との)話を済ませる" can mean the same thing (="to finish~~"). "話を終わらせる" can also mean "to stop talking to someone (before you finish)" but "話しを済ませる" can't.

I don't see any major difference between "宿題が済んだらゲームしよう" and "宿題が終わったらゲームしよう"/"仕事を済ませて帰宅する" and "仕事を終わらせて帰宅する/"仕事を終えて帰宅する".("終えて" sounds a bit literary.)

"済ます/済ませる" can also be used to say "~~なしで済ます/済ませる(=do without~~)", "~~で済ます/済ませる(=~~で間に合わせる/make do with~~)", but we can't rephrase them as "~~なしで終わらせる"/"~~で終わらせる".

"済む/済ませる" can also mean "解決する/to settle", e.g. "このままでは済まされないぞ"(We can't let the matter go at this)/"金で済む(or済まされる)問題じゃない"(You can't settle the matter with money)/"軽いけがで済んだ"(I escaped with only a minor injury)/"気が済むまで殴れ!"(Hit me until you're satisfied), and you can't use 終わる/終わらせる for these expressions.

You can say "任務を終えて帰国する"(carry out one's duty)/"70歳で生涯を終える"(die at the age of 70) but not "任務を済ませて/生涯を済ませる".

(Hmm I don't think this is all...there must be a lot more than this.)

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終わる can also be used as transitive (more on this here). – Tsuyoshi Ito Mar 26 '12 at 12:51
@Tsuyoshi Ito-san, わ!ほんとだ!! – user1016 Mar 26 '12 at 12:56

In my mind 「済ませる」 is much more commonly used for negative things. In many cases rather than "finishing something" I'd translate it to "getting something over and done with".

For example, the phrase 「宿題を済ませた」 could imply a dislike of homework, or a feeling of inconvenience where 終わる seems more neutral. For another example when paying the bill, 「会計を済ます」 seems to the more common usage.

There's also the pattern 「・・・ないで済ませる」to describe getting by without something, where the use of 済ませる emphasises the hardship.

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As Tomei Ningen wrote about earlier, part of the difference (or nuance,) with using 済む seems to be something like:

Use 済む when you mean that something is "completely finished".


After you have (completely) finished your homework, you can have fun.

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Would 済ませる fall under the rule as 済む? From what I understand, they are related but separate/different verbs. – dotnetN00b Mar 20 '12 at 2:23
@dotnetN00b It looks like 済ませる would be for when there is a direct object, like in this example... but the meaning would still be relatively the same. But you might want to stick with 終わる・終える to keep things a bit more natural. – summea Mar 20 '12 at 4:04

Here's what I found on the net.

Looks like there is no clear standard answer. From the answer below, it seems like

 『済む』= 『きちんと終わる』

But the difference is very small


済むのなかにも、いくつか意味があり、終わる、間に合う、解決する、完了するなどの意味が辞書にあります。 その中の「済む」がもつ「終わる」の意味について質問します。


確かに済むは終わるという意味をもっていますが、なんとなく意味が違うように感じました。済むという言葉が、解決するなどの意味をもっているからかどうかわかりませんが、「済む」には、何か困難なことがおわったり、自分の気持ちにもよりますが、 何か嫌な事を終えるような印象が私にはあります。

だから、「パーティーは何時に済みますか。」というと、少し、パーティーがいやだという印象がして、変な感じがしました。 ただ、辞書の例文を探していくと、食事が済むというものがあり、これには、私の考えはあてはまらない気がしました。 ご意見をいただければ幸いです。


私は『済む』を『終わる』の意味で使うとき、 基本的には『きちんと終わる』というニュアンスがあるように思います。 でも、いろいろな使い方がありますね。

  • 単に『終わる』という意味で使われる場合 例:食事が済んでから電話します。
  • 『きちんと終わる』とう意味で使われる場合 例:宿題が済んでから遊びなさい。
  • 『困難なこと』『嫌なこと』が終わるという意味で使われる場合 例:やっとのことで会議が済みました。

でも、これってどれも『済む』を『終わる』に置き換えてもOKです。 ということは、『済む』と『終わる』の違いはほんのわずかだということでしょう。 「パーティーは何時に終わりますか。」「パーティーは何時に済みますか。」ですが、 誰が誰に尋ねているかでも違ってきます。

  • (1)パーティーに参加する人が、パーティーの主催者に尋ねている。
  • (2)パーティーに参加する人が、他の参加者に尋ねている。
  • (3)パーティーに参加する夫に、妻が尋ねている。

まだ他にもいろいろ考えられます。 状況設定が示されないとお答えしにくいことがありますが、 この場合「置き換えてもOKだと思う。」と、とりあえず答えます。

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haha, I wouldn't have much faith with Google translate. I'll try to translate it if I have time .. – Tomei Ningen Mar 19 '12 at 18:46
This is just citation from a different website. I don't consider that this should be posted as an answer. You can cite things, but at least, you should rephrase it in your own words. – user458 Mar 19 '12 at 23:55
The quoted question is excellent, but the quoted answer is, well, not an answer at all. If he/she says 誰が誰に尋ねているかでも違ってきます, he/she should explain how the appropriateness/nuances differ in these contexts. – Tsuyoshi Ito Mar 20 '12 at 13:01
@sawa: Your opinion is fine (and I agree to it to some extent), but some people prefer to copy text for fear that the source website may vanish and the link may become a dead link someday. – Tsuyoshi Ito Mar 20 '12 at 13:06
Whether citing is okay or not, please keep in mind that the point of this site is for Japanese learners, and as such, a completely Japanese explanation defeats the purpose (if the questioner had the ability to read that, then they probably wouldn't need this site ;) ). This answer would almost certainly get upvotes if the Japanese were replaced with English. – Questioner Mar 25 '12 at 1:40

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