Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 6: 4/16

せる・させる (Causative)

To make/let/have (somebody do something)

either に or を can mark the doer


[る1]Verb() + せる
[る5]Verb → (すわ) + せる
[う]Verb(うた) + せる
[く]Verb(ある) + せる
[す]Verb(はな) + せる
[つ]Verb() + せる
[ぬ]Verb() + せる
[ぶ]Verb() + せる
[む]Verb(やす) + せる
[ぐ]Verb(およ) + せる



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About Verb[せる・させる]

In order to express that someone was 'made to do', or 'let do' something, the auxiliary verbs せる and させる will be used. The meaning that せる and させる will convey (when attached to a verb) is called 使役(しえき) (causative, employment, or using) in Japanese.
A common misconception is that せる and させる are standard conjugations of each verb. However, these auxiliary verbs should be thought of as having their own meaning, in a similar way to how たい, ない, , です, and other auxiliaries each have their own meanings.
In order to use these grammar structures, remove the る from る-Verbs, and then add させる. For う-Verbs, change the last kana to the あ sound kana from within the same column (except for う, which becomes わ), and then add せる (る becomes ら, む becomes ま, く becomes か, etc.).
  • 息子(むすこ)野菜(やさい)()させる
    I make my son eat vegetables.
  • 友達(ともだち)にトマト(そだ)させる
    I make my friend grow tomatoes.
  • 忘年会(ぼうねんかい)先輩(せんぱい)たち後輩(こうはい)(うた)(うた)わせた
    At the end of year party, the seniors made the juniors sing a song.
  • 友達(ともだち)(わたし)携帯(けいたい)(こわ)したので(あたら)()わせる
    Since my friend broke my phone, I will make them buy me a new one.
As usual, する and () have special conjugation rules. する will be replaced completely by させる (in a similar way to how できる completely replaces する in the 'potential' form). () will become ()させる.
  • (いや)仕事(しごと)後輩(こうはい)させる
    I let my juniors do the work that I don't want to do.
  • (おや)心配(しんぱい)させることしてはいけない
    You should not do anything that would make your parents worry.
  • 夜遅(よるおそ)くに会社(かいしゃ)()させるのはよくない
    It is not good to make people come to the company late at night.
  • (いぬ)()、こっちに()させる
    To call the dog and make it come to you.
With causative, either , or can mark the doer of the action that せる, or させる is linked to (not が). This is because the actual 'doer' of the action is considered to be the person that is making/letting someone perform that action. will usually imply that someone was 'let' do something, while implies 'make'.
  • 誰か心配(しんぱい)させる
    To let someone worry about you.
  • 誰か心配(しんぱい)させる
    To make someone worry about you.
Fun Fact
Because the actual 'doer' in causative verb sentences will be marked with (as is always the case), the literal translation of せる and させる is closer to the following:
(A) が (B) 楽しませる - For (A) to cause fun 'in' (B).
(A) が (B) 楽しませる - For (A) to cause fun 'through' (B).
It is these standard meanings of the particles (a location) and (a target) that will create the 'let', or 'make' nuance when using せる, or させる.


  • 学校(がっこう)()きたくない()()かせる

    (Someone) makes the kid who doesn't want to go to school go.

  • 友達(ともだち)(あさ)()()こして、(かえ)らせた

    I woke my friend up at four in the morning and made him go home.

  • (わたし)生徒(せいと)勉強(べんきょう)すること(たの)しませます

    I make students enjoy studying.

  • どこか()かせる(たの)しめないでしょう

    If (you) make (someone) go somewhere, they won't have fun.

  • (にい)ちゃん(いもうと)()かせた

    My older brother made my younger sister cry.

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Verb[せる・させる] – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

  • Pushindawood


    @eran Hey! Since this sentence is not testing “have to” or “must,” but the causative, we include “[causative + なきゃいけない]” as a hint. “たべさせなければいけない” is grammatical and would work in this sentence, we just wanted everyone to focus on conjugating for the causative without worrying about which form to use for “have to” or “must.” You should be seeing these types of hints appear in the answer blank (in the Japanese sentence) before you type your answer. Cheers!

  • Bunta


    My textbook says that the one being caused to do something is marked with an を when what they are being caused to do is intransitive, and a に when what they are being caused to do is transitive. I don’t see any mention of this in the explanation, but all of the example sentences fit the pattern. Is this untrue? I feel like if it is true it should probably be included in the grammar point. My textbook is Situational Functional Japanese.

  • Bunta


    just to clarify, based on the notes in the grammar point I was led to believe

    先生が私をコヒーを作らせました。would mean, my teacher made me make coffee - if を in fact carries the nuance of to make someone do something.

    But my teachers are saying the correct sentence is actually

    先生が私にコヒーを作らせました。Which can mean either let or made with the differentiator either being context or a 〜て下さった・〜てくれった to imply having done me the favor of letting me.

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