I've read that both the ~てしまう and ~きる (18th meaning of 切る at http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1MUE%E5%88%87%E3%82%8B) forms are used to signify something has been finished/done/completed.

If so, what exactly is the difference between the two conjugations (how do we decide when to use which)?


1) もう荷造りしてしまった。

2) もう荷造りしきった。

  • 2
    荷造りしてきった is ungrammatical. Maybe you meant 荷造りしきった? Jun 20 '11 at 0:32
  • 1
    Is it possible to edit the title as well? This "きる" comes after the verb stem (take away "masu") and not the て form. 食べきった, etc.
    – phirru
    Jun 20 '11 at 11:18

First, the ~てしまう construction can convey a sense of regret, which the 切る verb suffix cannot:

花瓶を落として割ってしまった。 I dropped the vase and [regrettably] broke it.

花瓶を落として割り切った。 (unnatural)

When used in constructions expressing the completion or finishing of an action, 切る tends to sound best with actions that can be measured on a scale, but there's a lot of overlap:

使い切る use up (使ってしまう could work)

乗り切る completely overcome (乗ってしまう sounds unnatural)

冷え切る cool off entirely (冷えてしまう could work)

疲れ切る become exhausted (疲れてしまう could work)

出し切る put forth everything (出してしまう might work in some cases)

All of the verbs above imply the exhaustion of a finite quantity (使う, 疲れる, 出す) or a change that could stop at any point on an invisible scale (乗る, 冷える). This aspect is reflected in the fact that the generic verb for "run out" is 切れる:

ノートパソコンの電池が切れた。 My laptop's battery died.

おい、この納豆の賞味期限が切れているよ。 Hey, this nattō's past its expiration date, you know.

On the other hand, for actions that don't fit into a nice scale (i.e. they either happen or they don't), the ~てしまう form is usually better:

泣き出してしまう burst into tears (泣き出し切る sounds unnatural)

変わってしまう change completely (変わり切る might work in rare cases)

ほれてしまう fall head-over-heels in love (ほれ切る sounds unnatural)

消えてしまう disappear entirely (消え切る might work in rare cases)

  • heys thanks for the help, btw does it mean if i want to say "I've finished packing my stuff" 荷造りしてしまった cannot be used (and we should use 荷作りしきった) because packing can be measured on a scale? (like i've half-packed my stuff and so on)
    – Pacerier
    Jun 21 '11 at 3:22
  • @Pacerier: Unfortunately a verb like 荷造りする doesn't tend to play nice with either of these forms. ~てしまう is often hard to separate from that implication of regret. You could use it if, for example, you had packed and were ready to fly somewhere, but your flight got cancelled: もう荷造りしてしまったのに… ("But I've already finished packing…"). 荷造りし切る doesn't work, since the answer to "Have you packed?" is either yes or no ("half-packed" isn't really "packed", right?). So for this case, 終わる is more common. 荷造りは終わった? ("Have you finished packing?") Jun 21 '11 at 12:36
  • hmm ok, btw just a quick last question: is 切る conjugation commonly used at all (other than those times it is combined with another verb to form a new verb listed in a dictionary)?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 21 '11 at 14:36
  • @Pacerier: It depends on the verb, really. 使い切る, 出し切る, and 言い切る are all very common. But I'm not sure what you mean by "other than those times it is combined with another verb to form a new verb…". Are you referring to a different use of 切る as a suffix? Jun 21 '11 at 15:50
  • @Derek i meant like 使いきる, 乗りきる, 冷えきる, 疲れきる and 出しきる are "findable" in the dictionary (i use WWWJDIC). But if i search the dictionary for 遊びきる it is not recognized as a "word" by itself.
    – Pacerier
    Jun 22 '11 at 4:02

Added: This answer was written in response to the revision 1 of the question. It turned out that the answer was not very relevant to the question which Pacerier wanted to ask.

-てしまった is the past form of -てしまう, and it means completion. It often implies that the action is undesirable.

皿を割ってしまった。 (さらをわってしまった。) I broke a plate.

-てきた is the past form of -てくる (not -てきる). The original meaning of くる (来る) is to come, and the form -てくる means that some action is done in a place other than here, with an implication that the actor will come back here after the action is completed (see the sense [17]-(イ) in Daijirin and the sense 9-(3) in Daijisen). -てきた means that the action was done in somewhere else and the actor came back.

コーヒーを飲んでくる。 (コーヒーをのんでくる。) I will drink coffee and come back. (=I will take a coffee break.)

In your examples, 荷物をもう荷造りしてしまった implies that it is a bad thing. Probably the speaker packed the baggage, thought that he/she was ready for a trip, and realized that he/she had forgotten to put something in it (therefore he/she has to redo the packing). 荷物をもう荷造りしてきた means the packing was done in somewhere other than here.

(By the way, in these examples, 荷物を sounds redundant to me, because if you say 荷造りする, it is obvious that the object is 荷物. I do not think that it is incorrect, but it may be better to omit 荷物を.)

  • sry my mistake i'd thought 切る is verb1 but it's actually verb5. btw i've updated the question to make it clearer take a look at it thx =D
    – Pacerier
    Jun 20 '11 at 0:27
  • ok i've taken the 荷物を away
    – Pacerier
    Jun 20 '11 at 0:29
  • @pac: what is verb1 and verb5? Are you referring to how to conjugate the verb? I've only heard of group1 and group2 and u-verbs and ru-verbs. Do you mind explaining what the verb groups you are using are? Jun 20 '11 at 1:27
  • @mark yep the conjugation. the way i've learnt, verb5 is 五段 and verb1 is 一段. -ru-verbs are 一段?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 20 '11 at 2:06
  • Yes, but since his question is about "てしまう", it is very likely that he meant "てきる" instead of "てくる", to express completion of a task. Adding a paragraph on this would make your answer more relevant, I guess. P!
    – Axioplase
    Jun 20 '11 at 6:35

Not a true answer, but {verb}てしまう has the nuance of the action has complete coverage on the object/subject.

The hero party is annihilated.

In the example above, it implies that not a single one member of the hero party is left. It has the extra feeling of "sadness, regret" that such thing happens.

Meanwhile, {verb}きる is for notifying a course of action has completed all the way to its final stage.

The chocolate I got from Rei-chan out of courtesy was not tasty, but I ate it to the end.

Here is another idiomatic usage.

Your deed, even if I thank it, I can never thank enough.

(edited: previously, it was 感謝したくても, but as Tsuyoshi Ito pointed out, it would mean that the speaker didn't manage to thank. But not only that, it may imply the following:

I can't thank enough even if I want to thank. Therefore I choose not to thank instead.

oh, what arrogance!)

  • 1
    I doubt that 感謝したくてもしきれない is a usual phrase, because 感謝したくても implies that the speaker wants to thank but cannot thank, while the speaker is actually thanking. 感謝してもしきれない is a usual phrase. Jun 20 '11 at 21:52
  • hey thanks for the help. btw actually i was comparing the other meaning of the -てしまう form which means "completion" other than "regret". also does it mean もう荷造りしきった should be used if i want to say "I've finished packing my stuff and we can go now"
    – Pacerier
    Jun 21 '11 at 3:21

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