How common is the shortened causative form, eg. 食べさす instead of 食べさせる.

Tae Kim says in his grammar guide (http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar/causepass) that the shorter causative-passive form (行かされる instead of 行かせられる) is not used as often as the longer version. However, I've read in genki and elsewhere that the shorter form is actually used more often in conversation.

That makes me wonder how frequently the shorter causative form is used. Is that also popular in conversational Japanese? In what contexts would you expect to hear it?

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    Note that short-form causatives can often be homophones with other words with very different meanings. 行かす【いかす】, for instance, sounds like 生かす【いかす】 "to make or keep something (a)live; to revive; to make the most of something". 置く【おく】 "to put or place something" would have a regular causative of 置かせる【おかせる】, and a short-form causative of 置かす【おかす】. The short form sounds just like 犯す【おかす】 "to defile; to violate; to infringe". Some of this meaning difference would be clear from context, but sometimes it's also best to avoid any ambiguity. Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 1:29
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi Their pitch pattern is different and there's no ambiguity.
    – user4092
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 2:11
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    For native speakers, I agree: the pitch accent is probably something most people don't have to think about. For learners however, it's highly likely that they won't know the proper pitch patterns -- resulting in ample room for ambiguity. (Unless teaching materials for Japanese have advanced markedly since last I surveyed the field for beginning and intermediate learners, pitch accent is only very rarely taught.) Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 2:22
  • I see...........
    – user4092
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 4:35

2 Answers 2


Sometimes, one needs to take a statement by Tae Kim with a grain of salt. Kim probably knows better than 99.9 % of all Japanese-learners, but still he is not a native speaker.

The short form is indeed used quite heavily in informal, daily conversations among us native speakers. The more informal the speech, the more often you will hear the short form.

If, however, you used the shorter form in non-informal situations such as business, school, etc., it would sound fairly inappropriate (or actually, even more than inappropriate).

If you are at a level where you can freely and properly switch back and forth between formal and informal, go ahead and use both like we do.

If you are not, one way to deal with it might be to use the longer form all the time first and gradually start using both as you gain more confidence.


The shorter forms are also common, if less than the longer versions and you will hear them more frequently in conversation rather than articles or so.

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