Consider the following sentences:

  1. 子供は本を読む。
  2. 母は子供[に]{LL}本を読ませる。

Since 読む is a transitive verb (i.e.: 本を読む), に is used to mark the causee (i.e.: 子供) for its causative form 読ませる.

Now, consider the following sentences (not sure whether they are correct):

  1. 子供は読む。
  2. 母は子供[を]{LL}読ませる。

Even though, 読む is a verb that accepts a direct object, it's not taking one. Therefore, を is used to mark the causee 子供 for its causative form 読ませる.

It seems that, what determines whether to choose を or に for marking the causee in a causative verb, is not the verb per se, but actually how the verb is used in the sentence. Of course, if the verb is intransitive it will be always を, but for a transitive verb it may be either に or を.

Am I missing something?

  • if the verb is intransitive it will be always を -- But.. 明鏡国語辞典 carries example sentences: 「代理として娘に/を行かせる」「私も休ませてください」 ... (Sorry if I'm only confusing you..)
    – chocolate
    Feb 16, 2018 at 23:27
  • Sorry, I've edited the question for using the right terms (causee instead of non-causing person) and now I can't mark it as "It answers my question" eve if I roll it back. Thanks a lot! The link is very useful and does indeed answer my question.
    – ネロク
    Feb 17, 2018 at 7:19
  • 1
    母は子供を読ませる makes no sense (it would mean "Mom makes someone read her child"). It's because 読む is a transitive verb. Please see the link for details.
    – naruto
    Feb 20, 2018 at 5:06
  • @naruto Thanks for the link. I think it's not really the same what you are talking about, since I am not providing a direct object for 読む in the two last sentences. Do I have then always to provide a direct object when using a transitive verb?? Can't I just say 子供は読む or 子供は食べる ?
    – ネロク
    Feb 20, 2018 at 7:45
  • 1
    @眠りネロク Please see the 子供に磨かせた example in the linked question. It's whether the verb can take を in the plain non-causative version, not whether the object is explicitly presented now.
    – naruto
    Feb 20, 2018 at 7:53


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