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What is the difference of meanings between the spellings しまう、仕舞{しま}う、終{しま}う、了{しま}う? Or at least, between the first two? (They are marked as common.)

If there is a source about such nuances, I'll appreciate links.

More specifically:
I know that しまう (in kana spelling) is a subsidiary verb, and a very common one. Besides that, I want to learn the full verb pronounced 【しまう】 (1to finish; 2to close down; 3to put away). So:

  1. Is the kana spelling しまう used for the full verb at all?
  2. If I want to translate the full verb from English into Japanese, how do I choose the spelling?
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    I'm getting a 1400-to-1 ratio for しまう vs 仕舞う; the kanji form certainly is far from common. Practically nonexistent, in fact. – oals Apr 13 '15 at 19:05
  • Google Japanese web n-gram counts: しまう 56405437  仕舞う 60190  終う 2896  了う 2329 – snailboat Apr 13 '15 at 21:10
  • The subsidiary verb ~てしまう is at least fifty times more common than the independent verb しまう. Subsidiary verbs (補助動詞) are usually written in kana. – snailboat Apr 13 '15 at 21:38
  • I adjusted the question to be specific about the full verb only. – firtree Apr 14 '15 at 11:40
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Adding on to oals' answer:

仕舞う

to finish; to close; to do something completely; to put away; to put an end to

Common word, Godan verb with u ending, Transitive verb, Usually written using kana alone

Source: edict, searchable on jisho.org

It seems only しまう and 仕舞う are in common use (the others being rather obscure), and even among those two, I've only ever come across the hiragana form.

While not a native speaker, they do all seem to refer to the same word. Any difference in nuance would come from the spelling (kanji is generally perceived to be more professional, etc..)

Also, all of the spellings you listed are listed within the same entry in both the 大辞林 and デジタル大辞泉.

Update:

I don't believe しまう is used very often aside from the common ~てしまう construct. There are many other alternative and more commonly used words used depending on the context. (終わる, 終える, 成し遂げる, and so on..)

There is also the expression しまった, which you may see.

Update 2:

Regarding your second question, if you are intent on using the verb しまう, I would stick to しまう as the other spellings are not in common use (as denoted on デジタル大辞泉 with ▽).

Correction from DariusJahandarie:

「しまう」 is used commonly as a regular verb, and even in those cases it's almost never written using kanji (although using kanji is more acceptable here than when it's being used as a 補助動詞).

  • Thank you for the links and info from dictionaries! I've adjusted the question (see above), so maybe you'd like to add something to your answer? – firtree Apr 14 '15 at 11:44
  • As for my second question, I am talking about active use of the word, about the translation English -> Japanese. When I want to say something with the verb to put away, which spelling do I use? – firtree Apr 15 '15 at 20:32
  • Hopefully that makes sense. I would also appreciate some confirmation from others on the accuracy of my answer. – seafood258 Apr 15 '15 at 21:02
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    「しまう」 is used commonly as a regular verb, and even in those cases it's almost never written using kanji (although using kanji is more acceptable here than when it's being used as a 補助動詞). 「戻す」 has a different meaning ("to put back" as opposed to "to put away"). – Darius Jahandarie Apr 15 '15 at 21:06
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    @seafood258 Take a look at the alc results for "をしまう". – Darius Jahandarie Apr 15 '15 at 21:10

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