Are there any differences between using おしまい {oshimai} and おわり {owari} to mean "the end" (both with neutral and negative connotations)? Are they always interchangeable?




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I don't think there's really much difference in meaning or connotation, although おしまい sounds more formal to me, probably because it has the honorific お attached. OTOH, I've never seen お仕舞い at the end of a movie, so maybe there are differences in customary usage. {EDIT: The following is inaccurate: 終わる is also used transitively} One difference is that you can "おしまいにする" something, whereas you can't "おわりにする" things, because of the transitive/intransitive pairing 終える/終わる.(END EDIT, see comments)

In your example sentences (incidentally, you need to stick a "に" in them), I don't think there's a dime's worth of difference between the two. They both mean "I'm done for, it's all over, the jig is up, put a fork in me, Goodnight Irene."

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  • From the kanji used in お仕舞い, I thought the word has some root in Noh theater so maybe it was (or is probably still) used to at the end of a play. Am I right? – Lukman Sep 9 '11 at 4:03
  • It appears to have associations with noh, but with a different meaning: ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%BB%95%E8%88%9E - Whether お仕舞い was used as a curtain-closer, I don't know. That sounds like a question for @Matt 's erudite consideration. – rdb Sep 9 '11 at 4:14
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    I do not find anything wrong with the expression 終わりにする. – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 9 '11 at 12:35
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    In fact, 終わる is used also in the form of ~を終わる. – Tsuyoshi Ito Sep 9 '11 at 12:41
  • @Tsuyoshi Ito - Just checked this, and you are correct. I should have checked myself beforehand: 大辞線 gives 終える as a synonym.(恥) Thanks for the info; I'll edit the post for accuracy. This seems very odd, though. Are there other transitive/intransitive pairs that you can think of where this occurs? – rdb Sep 9 '11 at 16:52

"Oshimai" can be formal, but it is also used with small children. I would translate it as something like "We're done with that now" or "We're moving on"

"Owari" has more of a feeling of finality, as in "We won't be coming back to this again" or "That time has passed."

I agree with previous comments on the grammar of it all, but the connontation is important as well.

Source: I teach K-12 in Japan

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On the one hand, I think that おしまい is mostly used to close an event or a ceremony, something that has been willingly started. So your second sentence sounds weird to me.

On the other hand, I think that おわり is not something you control. Your sentence says it's over, not that you stopped it.

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    But I've heard もうおしまいだ being uttered by characters in many anime and dramas I've watched .. – Lukman Sep 9 '11 at 4:06
  • @Lukman: in what respect does it contradict what I wrote? – Axioplase Sep 12 '11 at 8:16
  • "... something that has been willingly started. So your second sentence sounds weird to me." But I've heard もうおしまいだ being uttered by characters in many anime and dramas I've watched .. – Lukman Sep 12 '11 at 8:37
  • @Lukman: I reiterate. (1) Your example is not もうおしまいだ, and (2), what I believe that your characters could say in the context of someone wanting to apply for a banquet, to say that the application period has now finished; in this case, there is still no contradiction. I never said that "おしまい" couldn't be heard in mangas or real life (since after all, it's a real word), I said that your example sounded weird to me. – Axioplase Sep 12 '11 at 10:03
  • I believe all the characters that I heard saying おしまいだ (with もう or not is irrelevant) meant to say "it's over for me" not with reference to banquet, applications or what not. p/s: just in case you think I'm the one who downvoted this answer, please look at my profile to see that I still maintain my 0-downvote record ;) – Lukman Sep 12 '11 at 11:27

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