I feel like I always see 「しまう」 at the end of sentences (not the verb "to put away"). I saw some examples here on Weblio.

どうしても写真は実物より劣ってしまう。 Pictures really don't do it justice.

私はどうしても彼を目で追ってしまう。 No matter what happens I keep following him with my eyes.

「私の場合、どうしても溝口健二と比べてしまう。」 I can't help but compare him to Kenji MIZOGUCHI.'

I thought it's basically like 'can't help but', but then the first example seems different.

Anyone have more examples of this? What exactly does it mean?

2 Answers 2


I think the most basic meaning in English is "wind up" or "end up".

That seems to work for all of your sentences:


Somehow the photo always winds up being inferior to the real thing.


I always somehow wind up following him with my eyes.


In my case, I always somehow end up comparing him with Kenji MIZOGUCHI.

I think there's sometimes a sense of disappointment as suggested in the other answer, but I don't think that's ubiquitous (If I'm wrong, I look forward to learning).

  • 3
    +1 "wind up/end up" is the important nuance.
    – user4032
    Dec 25, 2014 at 13:36
  • Thanks, I wasn't sure if the 'sense of disappointment' was always true either. I can't say since I'm just learning this. :) Maybe I'll figure it out once I hear it used a few more times.
    – freedrull
    Dec 25, 2014 at 14:22

This use of しまう is like adding "regrettably", or "unfortunately". It means that the action given in the て form is not a good thing.

The fact that pictures don't do somebody justice is not a good thing. So they end the sentence with しまう.


"That style of speaking reveals a person's true age, unfortunately".

This means that there are bad overtones to the person's age becoming known. For example, the style of speaking reveals that he/she is too old or too young in the speaker's opinion.

  • 2
    "not a good thing"っていう部分がどうしても引っかかるね。それ以外の意味で使われることも多いから。
    – user4032
    Dec 25, 2014 at 13:30
  • @l'électeur That's true, but I think this is the case that applies to the OP's sentences. Dec 25, 2014 at 13:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.