te-form (て-form) for Cause or Reason -
Intermediate Lessons: 35

In this lesson, you are going to learn using te-form (て-form) of Verbs or Adjectives as the cause or reason that produces a consequence.

This is similar to the previous lesson, where Noun with the particle de (で) is used as the cause or reason.

Let's first study the sentence patterns which use this grammar...

Sentence 1 (Cause/Reason) Sentence 2 (Result)
---------------------- ----------------
Verb (て-form) Result
Verb (ない-form ない) なくて Result
い-adj (~) くて Result
な-adj で Result
い-adj (~) くなくて Result
な-adj でなくて Result

Result can be:
1. Verbs or Adjectives to express feeling
2. Potential Verbs or Verbs to express state

In each sentence pattern, Sentence 1 presents a cause (or reason) and Sentence 2 presents the consequence produced by the cause.

Let's look at some examples...

  1. 天気が悪いから、富士山が見えません。
    tenki ga warui kara, fujisan ga miemasen

    Meaning: Mount Fuji cannot be seen because the weather is bad.

  2. お金がないから、買えません。
    okane ga nai kara, kaemasen

    Meaning: I cannot buy because I don't have money.

The two examples above are grammatically correct. However, native Japanese don't speak in this way. If the Result or Sentence 2 is a verb or an adjective that expresses feeling, or if it's a potential verb or a verb to express a state, then the cause or reason sentence will have to change to te-form (て-form).

Note that the verbs that express different states are verbs like ある (aru), いる (iru), なる (naru), etc.

This is just how native Japanese speak naturally, there's no particular reason why they speak in this way. So since 見えません (miemasen) is kind of potential verb and 買えません (kaemasen) is a potential verb, the above two examples have to be changed to the following to sound more natural...

  1. 天気が悪くて、富士山が見えません。
    tenki ga warukute, fujisan ga miemasen

    Meaning: Mount Fuji cannot be seen because the weather is bad.

  2. お金がなくて、買えません。
    okane ga nakute, kaemasen

    Meaning: I cannot buy because I don't have money.

Constraints of using te-form for Cause or Reason

Similar to the particle de (で) in the last lesson, this sentence pattern has many constraints or regulations over its usage.

As the cause or reason has to be changed to te-form (て-form), it leads to the first constraint for using this sentence pattern.

1. The words which come in the Result or Sentence 2 are limited to those words which do not contain volition or intention.

1.1 Verbs and Adjectives that express Feelings

I have included some commonly used verbs and adjectives that describe emotional feeling in the following two lists...

Verb Hiragana Romaji Meaning
1. 困る こまる komaru troubled
2. 怒る おこる okoru get angry
3. 疲れる つかれる tsukareru get tired
4. 驚く おどろく odoroku surprised
5. びっくりする びっくりする bikkuri suru surprised
6. 安心する あんしんする anshin suru relief
7. 心配する しんぱいする shinpai suru worried

Adjective Hiragana Romaji Meaning
1. 嬉しい うれしい ureshii glad
2. 悲しい かなしい kanashii sad
3. 寂しい さびしい sabishii lonely
4. 楽しい たのしい tanoshii enjoy
5. 恥ずかしい はずかしい hazukashii embarrass
6. つまらない つまらない tsumaranai boring
7. 複雑 ふくざつ fukuzatsu complicated
8. 残念 ざんねん zannen regret

The below three examples are not Verbs nor Adjectives but they are also used to express emotional feeling.

Hiragana Romaji Meaning
1. すみません すみません sumimasen sorry
2. ごめんなさい ごめんなさい gomennasai sorry
3. 有り難う ありがとう arigatou Thank you

Here are some examples that show how these verbs and adjectives can be used with te-form for a cause or reason...

te-form for Cause or Reason

  1. ニュースを聞いて、びっくりしました
    nyu-su wo kiite, bikkurishimashita

    Meaning: I was surprised to hear the news.

  2. 恋人に会えなくて、寂しいです。
    koibito ni aenakute, sabishii desu

    Meaning: I feel lonely as I can't meet my lover.

  3. プレゼントをもらって、嬉しいです。
    purezento wo moratte, ureshii desu

    Meaning: I am very glad to receive the present.

  4. 一生懸命勉強して、疲れました
    isshoukenmei benkyoushite, tsukaremashita

    Meaning: I was tired because I studied very hard.

  5. 友達の怪我がよくなって、安心しました
    tomodachi no kega ga yokunatte, anshinshimashita

    Meaning: I was relieved as my friend recovered from his injury.

  6. 約束の時間に遅れて、すみません
    yakusoku no jikan ni okurete, sumimasen

    Meaning: I am sorry for being late.

  7. 質問に答えられなくて、恥ずかしかったです
    shitsumon ni kotaerarenakute, hazukashikatta desu

    Meaning: I was embarrassed because I couldn't answer the question.

1.2 Potential Verbs and Verbs that express States

Potential verbs can also be used to express states which do not contain volition or intention. Below are some examples...

  1. 月曜日は都合が悪くて、会議に出席できません
    getsuyoubi wa tsugou ga warukute, kaigi ni shusseki dekimasen

    Meaning: I am not able to attend the meeting because I am not free on Monday.

  2. 話が複雑で、よく分かりませんでした
    hanashi ga fukuzatsu de, yoku wakarimasendeshita

    Meaning: I could not understand the story well because it was complicated.

  3. 眼鏡がなくて、小さい字が読めません
    megane ga nakute, chiisai ji ga yomemasen

    Meaning: I can't read the small words because I don't have my glasses.

  4. 明日の試験が心配で、寝られません
    ashita no shiken ga shinpai de, neraremasen

    Meaning: I can't sleep because I am worried about tomorrow's test.

  5. 毎日忙しくて、勉強する時間がありません
    mainichi isogashikute, benkyousuru jikan ga arimasen

    Meaning: I don't have time to study because I am busy every day.

1.3 Situations in the Past

Events that happened in the past can also be used in Sentence 2...

  1. 事故があって、電車が遅れてしまいました
    jiko ga atte, densha ga okurete shimaimashita

    Meaning: The train was delayed due to the accident.

  2. 仕事に遅れて、上司に叱られました
    shigoto ni okurete, joushi ni shikararemashita

    Meaning: I was scolded by my boss for being late for work.

2. Expressions containing volition/intention (will, order, invitation, request, permission, prohibition, etc) are not used in Sentence 2. When it contains volition/intention, the phrase with te-form (て-form) cannot be used and instead the phrase with から (kara) is used.

  1. 危なくて、機械に触らないでください。 X
    abunakute, kikai ni sawaranaide kudasai X

    Meaning: It's dangerous, so please don't touch the machine.

  2. 危ないから、機械に触らないでください。 O
    abunai kara, kikai ni sawaranaide kudasai O

    Meaning: It's dangerous, so please don't touch the machine.

te-form kudasai (て-form ください) is a request which contains intention and thus you cannot use this sentence pattern here. Therefore, example 1 above is incorrect.

3. In this sentence pattern, Sentence 1 and Sentence 2 are sequential events. In other words, Sentence 1 takes place first and Sentence 2 takes place after that.

  1. 明日試験があって、今日準備しなければなりません。 X
    ashita shiken ga atte, kyou junbishinakereba narimasen X

    Meaning: There is a test tomorrow, so I have to prepare for it today.

  2. 明日試験があるから、今日準備しなければなりません。 O
    ashita shiken ga aru kara, kyou junbishinakereba narimasen O

    Meaning: There is a test tomorrow, so I have to prepare for it today.

Since preparing for test happens before the actual test tomorrow, they are not sequential events. Therefore, you cannot use te-form (て-form) but have to use から (kara) here instead.

Related Pages

Lesson 20: Japanese Grammar for Cause and Reason.

Lesson 34: Japanese particle de for Cause or Reason.

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