What's the difference between 済ませる【すませる】 and 終える【おえる】?

I've tried looking at jisho.org, goo.ne.jp, ALC, HiNative and here, but I'm still unsure about the difference between these two words. I think it might be that 済ませる【すませる】 is used for things that are unpleasant to do. Am I right, is the difference something else, or are these words just synonyms?

  • 1
    Related: Are 終おわる and 済すませる synonyms? >終わらせる sounds to me like "to make(force) something finish/to put an end to something", while 済ませる sounds like "to let something finish/to let something be over", and I think 済ませる is more used when you're talking about finishing something unfavourable.
    – azimicat
    Oct 29, 2020 at 6:12

2 Answers 2


「おえる」is paired with「おわる」。Somewhat contrived example:

Highschool has ended.

I have finished high school.

These two sentences are basically the same. Even if you use the active voice "finish", you don't have any control over when your highschool education ends. (Okay, you do have some control but not much.)

So, even though おえる is an active voice, its content is passive.

In contrast,

I have finished work for today.

Here you can finish your work quickly if you work hard. You have a lot of control. You can't finish your high school education as you finish your work for the day. So, すませる is a bit like "dispatch" in this context.

By the way, おわらせる is more similar to すませる than おえる is. In many cases, おわらせる and すませる are interchangeable.


According to the question azimicat posted in the comments, 済ませる【すませる】 most likely really is used for negative/upleasant things.

  • 1
    Is this true, though? 食事を済ませる doesn't seem to have this connotation.
    – jogloran
    Sep 9, 2021 at 18:59

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