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My coworker and I are both learning Japanese and working in Japan. While texting with a friend in Japanese to figure out when they should meet, my coworker wondered how to express: "The closing ceremony will probably not be over by then", while adding a sense of regret to not being able to meet by a certain time.

She recently learned the てしまう grammar point, and how it can be used to express regret, especially in the past tense (てしまった/ちゃった). She wondered if there was a way to use it about future events and/or in the negative form.

My Japanese is nowhere near good enough to figure this one out, so I wondered if anyone had any suggestion on how to convey this kind of meaning.

On the same topic, are there colloquial restrictions to てしまう? For example, I don't recall ever seeing this modifier used in the negative form. Also, I've seen it used in the non-past tense, but mostly to express "screw it, I'm gonna go ahead and...", like in 食べちゃう.

Sorry if this post is a bit messy or unclear, I am also confused! XD

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    As an English phrase, what does it mean to regret about future events? Maybe you can provide a concrete situation.
    – sundowner
    Mar 14 at 2:46
  • So your coworker is attending the closing ceremony?
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 14 at 2:47
  • @sundowner "Sadly, the ceremony will not be over by then, so I won't be free yet..." is what I meant.
    – Vissen
    Mar 14 at 2:49
  • @aguijonazo Yes she is.
    – Vissen
    Mar 14 at 2:49
  • You just need to express the meaning of "sadly" with an adverbial expression.
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 14 at 2:56

1 Answer 1

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The original meaning of the verb しまう is "to finish", and (-て)しまう as a subsidiary verb is like "to end up". Therefore, it cannot be used to express regret about something that didn't happen or won't happen. (-て)しまわなかった refers to the fact that an unfortunate event did not happen.

財布を落としてしまった。
(Sadly,) I dropped my wallet.

財布を落としてしまわなかった。
(Luckily,) I didn't end up dropping my wallet.

If a fact that "something didn't/won't happen" is unfortunate to someone, you need to use 残念ですが or 残念ながら instead.

残念ですが彼は来なかった。
Unfortunately, he didn't come.

残念ながら財布を落とさなかった。
Unfortunately (to you), I didn't drop my wallet.
(The listener have said "I bet you'll lose your wallet!" before.)

But you can use it to refer to an unfortunate event that is likely to happen in the future.

明日財布を落としてしまうだろう。
(Sadly,) I will likely drop my wallet tomorrow.

明日財布を落としてしまわなければいいのだが。
I hope I won't drop my wallet tomorrow.

In your situation, you can say 残念ですがその時間には式が終わっていません.

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