How to use japanese verb te-form shimaimashita?

by Carol
(USA)

What is the difference between tabemashita and tabete shimaimashita? What is the purpose of changing the verb to te-form and then adding shimaimashita?

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Reply:

There are basically two ways how you can use Japanese verb te-form shimaimashita. One is when you want to emphasize completion (of certain task) and another one is when you want to express regret or embarrassment (normally used for bad events).


1. When used for emphasizing completion

Example 1
---------
Normally when you want to say you have eaten the whole cake, you will say...

私は昨日大きいケーキを全部食べました
watashi wa kinou ooki ke-ki wo zenbu tabemashita
Meaning: I have eaten the whole big cake yesterday.

Although 食べました (tabamashita) also indicate the completion of eating the whole cake, to emphasize that you have actually finished eating the whole cake, you can change the sentence to...

私は昨日大きいケーキを全部食べてしまいました
watashi wa kinou ooki ke-ki wo zenbu tabete shimaimashita

Example 2
---------
When your father drank one whole bottle of whisky, you will usually say...

父はゆうべウイスキーを一本飲みました
chichi wa yuube uisuki- wo ippon nomimashita
Meaning: My father drank one whole bottle of whisky last night.

To emphasize that your father has actually finished up the whole bottle of whisky, you can change the sentence to...

父はゆうべウイスキーを一本飲んでしまいました
chichi wa yuube uisuki- wo ippon nonde shimaimashita

Example 3
---------
When your sister read the whole book, you will normally say...

姉は先週この本を全部読みました
ane wa senshuu kono hon wo zenbu yomimashita
Meaning: My elder sister read this whole book last week.

To emphasize that your elder sister has actually completed reading this whole book, you can change the sentence to...

姉は先週この本を全部読んでしまいました
ane wa senshuu kono hon wo zenbu yonde shimimashita

In the above case where you want to emphasize the completion of certain task, the sentences are often used together with adverbs like...
a. 全部 (zenbu - all/whole)
b. もう (mou - already)
c. 終わりまで (owarimade - till the end)
d. amount like 一本 (ippon - one bottle)

2. When used for expressing regret or embarrassment

Example 1
---------
If you want to say you have forgotten to do your homework, you will normally say...

私は今日宿題を忘れました
watashi wa kyou shukudai wo wasuremashita
Meaning: I forgot my homework today. (show no sign of regret from the sentence)

To show your regret or embarrassment, you can change the sentence to...

私は今日宿題を忘れてしまいました
watashi wa kyou shukudai wo wasurete shimaimashita

Example 2
---------
If your brother has lost his wallet, you will usually say...

弟は今日財布を落としました
otouto wa kyou saifu wo otoshimashita
Meaning: My younger brother lost his wallet today.

Now this situation is slightly different from previous example where the event was not occurred to you. It's your younger brother who has encountered the event. Of course your younger brother was regretful and felt embarrassed for losing his wallet.

However even though this event was not occurred to you, you still show the sympathy you have on this event. Therefore in this case, you can also use verb te-form shimaimashita to show your sympathy towards others on the bad event occurred to them. Hence you can change the sentence to...

弟は今日財布を落としてしまいました
otouto wa kyou saifu wo otoshite shimaimashita

Example 3
---------
If your mother overslept this morning, you will normally say...

母は今朝寝坊をしました
haha wa kesa nebou wo shimashita
Meaning: My mother overslept this morning.

To show your sympathy towards your mother's embarrassment, you can change the sentence to...

母は今朝寝坊をしてしまいました
haha wa kesa nebou wo shite shimaimashita

3. Using it in present tense

By the way, the dictionary-form of shimaimasu is しまう (shimau). Japanese verb te-form shimaimashita is not limited to only past tense like in the previous examples. You can use verb te-form shimaimasu to emphsize that you will complete the action in the future.

Example 1
---------
五時までに本を読んでしまいます
goji made ni hon wo yonde shimaimasu
Meaning: I will finish reading the book by 5pm.

Example 2
---------
If you are urging your son to finish his homework, you can say...

早く宿題をやってしまいなさい
hayaku shukudai wo yatte shimainasai
Meaning: Finish your homework quickly.

Example 3
---------
明日までにそれを済ませてしまうべきです
ashita made ni sore wo sumasete shimau beki desu
Meaning: You ought to have done it by tomorrow.

Related Page
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Japanese verbs te-form

Hope this helps,
Kia Leng

Comments for How to use japanese verb te-form shimaimashita?

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Sugoi !
by: Veena

Beautifully explained! Thanks a ton. Veena:)

Great job explaining
by: Alaina

Excellent with explaining it is appropriate to use the past tense verses te and shimaimashita. I do have one question. I live in Japan and I notice a lot of people use the chatta, ちゃった, the conversational form of shimaimashita/shimatta. Would chatta then follow the same rules of usage as shimaimashita or do people sometimes add it to the sentence to make it sound girly or something?

Great job explaining
by: Kia Leng

Hi Alaina,

As what you have mentioned in your question, ちゃった (chatta) is just the conversational form of shimaimashita/shimatta. Therefore, it would still follow the same rules of usage as shimaimashita.

Hope this helps.

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