I've noticed this before but I just encountered “ちょっと見せなさい” which clearly meant “Let me look for a moment.” not “Show it for a moment.” as it was uttered by a character that pushed the other character aside to personally take a look. I've noticed this before with verbs such as “入れる” which are often explained to mean “To put inside.” but clearly can also be used to mean “to let someone enter.” It seems to often be used as “入れろ!” to demand entrance to some room or someone's house.

It is well known that the causative form in Japanese can both mean compelling, and allowing another object to do something and that say “見させる” can both mean “to make someone see” and “to let someone see” so how is “見せる” different, which is often explained to mean “show”, which is the same as “to make someone see”, but can evidently also mean “to let someone [to pass and] see”.

Are the transitive counterparts to verbs such as “終える”, “付ける” and so forth simply identical in meaning to “終わらせる” and “付かせる” or are their specific differences still?

1 Answer 1


Quite often the causative form of intransitive verbs and their transitive counterpart are different in meaning, and would translate to different things:

Take 残る for example:

あの子を家に残した I left that (young) person at home.

あの子を家に残らせた. I made that person stay at home.

携帯を壊した I broke the phone

携帯を壊れさせた I made the phone break (itself). This sentence is both awkward in English and Japanese.

You could argue that objectively these two are basically the same situation and mean the same thing, but the emphasis is different. If you can see how the two English sentences differ, then you can understand how does the two Japanese sentences differ as well. One is “what I did”, the other one stresses on “what I made other people do”. That’s the whole point of the causative form.

What about 見せる and 見させる?

The dictionary literally defines 見せる as 人に見させる. Etymologically it comes from the classical verb 見す. Now people use 見せる instead of 見させる unless they wanna emphasize “xx made xx see”

Are 終える and 終わらせる the same?

Will you argue the the English phrase “to end something” and “to make something end” the same? Probably no. Clearly the latter has difference emphasis, and in certain situation we do wanna show that. The same logic applies to the other pairs, the causative form always has more stress on, well, causing the event to happen.

ラベルをつけた. I stuck the label onto it

ラベルを付かせた. I made the label stick to it.

P.S. although 終わらせる has the connotation of causation, it’s the to-go way to say “to finish”. As a convention, 終える has fallen out of usage.

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