I found the following sentences on a website teaching people the order of using the 助動詞.

  • 彼は人に笑われる。
  • 彼を人に笑われさせる。
  • 彼を人に笑われさせたい。
  • 彼を人に笑われさせたくない。
  • 彼を人に笑われさせたくなかった。
  • 彼を人に笑われさせたくなかっただろう。

I am wondering about the meaning of the second last sentence 彼を人に笑われさせたくなかった.

Should it be:

I never wanted him to be laughed at by people.

Which might imply I still think so.

Or should it be:

I used not to want him to be laughed at by people.

Which might imply I no longer think so.


Without additional context, Japanese is ambiguous on the distinction between preterite and imperfect (which is what you're asking about, even if you don't know the terminology).

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  • 1
    Interestingly, the same is possible in English: Life was beautiful but not anymore, today is just a shadow that, without light, is lost. and Everywhere I looked was beautiful and it's still that way. – blutorange Apr 17 '15 at 7:12
  • Thanks , knowing even Japanese got confused by just this sentence, then that's okay. – FindingNemo Apr 17 '15 at 11:23

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