tl;dr How do I say "You're hurting him"?

Suppose I'm teaching a child how to care for a small pet. If the child holds the pet wrong, I can say "Stop that. You're hurting it". In English, this has two possible meanings:

  1. "Your action is likely to injure the pet."
  2. "Your action causes the pet pain."

The first of these two meanings seems to be covered by the Japanese 怪我をさせる and 傷を負わせる. I could not find any way to express the second. How can I do that? Similarly, how would I apologize for having hurt someone, that is for doing something that physically hurt but did not injure?

Here are some possibilities that I have considered and rejected. If one of these is actually correct, I would be grateful if you could correct my understanding of it:

  1. 痛める - This was my first guess, because of the obvious relation to 痛い. However, after checking several dozen example sentences it seems to only be used for self-inflicted injury, usually accidental ("I hurt my arm", "he broke his leg falling") and damage caused to inanimate objects.
  2. 傷つける - Another good candidate, but explanations and usage examples indicate that it is limited to hurting someone's feelings, rather than for physical pain.
  3. 傷を負う and 怪我をする - As mentioned above, only refer to injuries, and not to the sensation of pain by itself.
  4. 〜すると痛い - This means that an action causes pain to the actor ("It hurts when I do this", or "does it hurt when you do that?").
  5. やめなさい、痛いんです - Close to what I want, but only applies in the case where you're hurting me. This does not allow for an inversion of roles or a third party.
  6. This cannot or will not be expressed in Japanese - This seems unlikely, but consider the case in English. The example sentence "You're hurting it" is the natural way to express both possible meanings in common conversation. If I really want to clarify, I might say "You're injuring it" or "You could injure it", although that is not what one would normally say. However, "You're causing it pain" sounds to me so far removed from daily speech, that I would not expect to ever hear it, even when ambiguity is possible.
  • Since I'm asking anyway, what would be the common way to unambiguously express the first meaning (of injuring another)? Sep 29, 2016 at 17:41
  • @H.Ha Oh, don't delete it. You have a good point with 痛がる. I can certainly imagine saying something like 「やめなさい。痛がってるんだ。」. It has the correct meaning. Unfortunately it lacks an actor, so it only covers some of the things I would like to express. The part with 怪我させられる does not fit as well, because there is mention of some internal bruising, and not just the sensation of pain. Sep 29, 2016 at 19:02
  • 2
    @H.Ha There is no need to tell us that you'll probably delete your comments later. If you think they should be on the post, please post them; if you think they should not, please don't post them or delete them as you feel is appropriate.
    – user1478
    Sep 29, 2016 at 19:58
  • 5) やめなさい、痛いんです can be applied to other people than you though I somehow want to say "痛いんですよ?" or "痛いんですから". のだ form is also one of solutions to safely express other people's sense, though it may be more or less a strong expression for conjecture.
    – user4092
    Sep 30, 2016 at 2:42
  • how would I apologize for having hurt someone -> 「ごめんね、痛かった?」とかね・・
    – chocolate
    Sep 30, 2016 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


Hmmm. It sounds like you may be describing 2 situations:

  1. where a child is intentionally hurting the animal. In which case:

やめなさい!犬(or some 動物)がかわいそうだろう。or 犬が痛いだろう!

  1. where a child is clumsily or carelessly hurting the animal:

丁寧に(or やさしく)持ちなさい。痛くさせちゃだめよ。

(edited させじゃ to させちゃ)

  • This looks great, thanks. An thank you for pointing out this distinction. It did not occur to me, because I did not consider that anyone would intentionally hurt an animal (T_T)... So obviously I meant the second option, with careless handling. Would it be possible to adapt it into an apology as 「痛くさせちゃってごめんなさい」 or something along these lines? Sep 30, 2016 at 18:12
  • @OhadLivneBar-On I think you can say 痛くしてごめんなさい or 痛いことをしてごめんなさい
    – chocolate
    Oct 1, 2016 at 2:38
  • @chocolate I see. Using する instead of the causative させる does seem better here. Oct 3, 2016 at 14:25
  • How about "I've never had a dentist cause pain to.my cheeks before" or "Youre the first dentist who ever caused pain to my cheeks"
    – gman
    Dec 19, 2016 at 23:59


For a smaller child : 「ほら、ギューっと抱くから、ワンちゃんが『痛い、痛い』って (言ってるよ/鳴いてるよ)。」

「もっと ソフト にしないと、犬が怪我するよ。」
「もっと やさしく しないと、怪我させちゃうでしょ。」

I'm sure there are many more variations.

This last example seemed a bit illogical (***) -- (I wondered if it's correct) -- but it seems correct & ok & legit. -- there are many Web pages, e.g. :

賠償請求できる?遊びに来た子どもが犬に怪我をさせた - 弁護士ニュース ...
2015/03/11 - もしも、自宅へ遊びに来た子どもが自宅で飼っているペットの犬に乱暴してしまったら……。犬が怪我をして ... 一方、民事責任については、子どもが誤って犬を怪我させた場合にも民法上の規定にしたがって損害賠償請求を行うことができます。


(***) 「犬に怪我させちゃう」 -- Maybe it's just me, but this sounds like the dog is an intelligent being with a mind similar to a human's.

  • Thanks for giving so many different alternatives, and for the different phrasings for different hearers. Oct 3, 2016 at 14:27

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