What's the difference between 尽くす and 果たす?

I thought that both meant "to do something until the very end" or "to use until exhaustion" but when would you use one over the other?


1 Answer 1


First, keep in mind that neither of them are verbs that can be used freely on their own in the way you described. For example, you cannot say things like 水を尽くす, 水を果たす, 勉強を尽くす or 勉強を果たす. (Instead, you can say 水が尽きた "The water ran out".)

尽くす is used as part of compound verbs. You can attach it to almost any verb and say 取り尽くす, 読み尽くす, 食べ尽くす, やり尽くす, 調べ尽くす, 殺し尽くす, 遊び尽くす, 勉強し尽くす, and so on and on. 読み尽くす means to read everything until nothing is left unread, 殺し尽くす means to kill everyone until no one is left alive, and so forth. 尽くす is one of the 30 syntactic compound verbs.

On the other hand, 使い果たす is the only important compound verb that is worth memorizing. If you analyze the meaning of this 果たす in isolation, it would indeed be "until the end". But practically speaking, it's better to remember 使い果たす as a single verb. It's simply wrong to say 読み果たす, 食べ果たす and such. When 果たす is used as a standalone verb, it means "to fulfill/achieve", such as in 約束を果たす ("to fulfill a promise").

So...the only verb pair that is worth discussing here is 使い尽くす and 使い果たす :) They are mostly interchangeable, and there is no difference between 水を使い尽くす and 水を使い果たす. However, 使い尽くす can also be used in a positive way. For example, スマホを使い尽くす usually means something positive, such as "using all the capabilities of a smartphone" rather than "running out of smartphones". お金を使い尽くす and お金を使い果たす are nearly completely interchangeable, but in the context of a game where you have to spend $10,000 in 24 hours, 24時間で1万ドルを使い尽くす (or 使い切る) would be preferred.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .