Can you explain more about the several uses of the verb shimau?

by Pinillos Elka
(Ibaraki-ken, Omitama-shi, Kawado, Japan)


Hi Pinillos Elka,

I have previously answered a similar question on how to use Verb te-form shimaimashita.

Over here, I will answer it in more details including the original meaning of the verb しまう (shimau) besides Verb te-form shimau.

Definition and usage of the verb shimau

Definition of the verb しまう shimau

The verb 仕舞う (しまう - shimau) has several meanings:

1. put away, pack away, clean up
mono wo shimau
Meaning: Put away thing
Similar meaning to 片付ける (かたづける - katazukeru)

2. put back (to original location)
mono wo moto no tokoro e shimau
Meaning: put thing back to the original place

3. keep, store
a. 服を押入れにしまう
fuku wo oshiire ni shimau
Meaning: Store the clothes in the closet.

b. 砂糖をここにしまってある
satou wo koko ni shimatte aru
Meaning: Sugar is kept here.

c. ナイフは引き出しにしまっておきなさい
naifu wa hikidashi ni shimatte okinasai
Meaning: Keep the knife in the drawer.

4. close
mise wo shimau
Meaning: to close a store; to go out of business

5. have done something; finish doing something; finish something up
It's always in the format of Verb te-form shimau.

Verb te-form しまう

しまう (shimau) is used as an secondary verb following te-form of another (primary) verb and indicates the idea of completion of an action (of the primary verb).

To emphasize the completion of the action, Verb te-form shimau sentences often appear with adverbs like...
a. 全部 (zenbu - all/whole)
b. もう (mou - already)
c. 完全に (kanzenni - completely)
d. すっかり (sukkari - completely)
e. 全て (subete - all/completely)
f. 終わりまで (owarimade - till the end)


1. 彼は私との約束をすっかり忘れてしまった
kare wa watashi to no yakusoku wo sukkari wasurete shimatta
Meaning: He has completely forgotten his promise with me.

2. 息子の玩具を全部あの中古品店にあげてしまった
musuko to omocha wo zenbu ano chuukohinten ni agete shimatta
Meaning: I gave all my son's toys to that secondhand store.

3. スープはもう冷めてしまった
su-pu wa mou samete shimatta
Meaning: My soup has gotten cold.

Another meaning of Verb te-form しまう

Verb te-form shimau also expresses the idea that someone did something which he shouldn't have done (unintentionally or mistakenly) or something happened which shouldn't have happened (unexpectedly).

In this case it often implies that person's regrets about what he has done or the speaker's regret, embarrassment or criticism about someone's action or about something that has happened. Most of time it's used during bad events.


1. 兄は妹のアイスクリームを食べてしまった
ani wa imouto no aisukuri-mu wo tabete shimatta
Meaning: My elder brother (mistakenly) ate my younger sister's ice-cream.

2. 私は違う電車に乗ってしまった
watashi wa chigau densha ni notte shimatta
Meaning: I got on the wrong train.

3. 雨が降ってしまったので洗濯物を外に干せなかった
ame ga futte shimatta node sentakumono wo soto ni hosenakatta
Meaning: It rained, so I couldn't dry my laundry outside.

4. 腕時計をなくしてしまった
udetokei wo nakushite shimatta
Meaning: I lost my watch.

Whether a Verb te-form shimau sentence is interpreted as simple completion of action or regret/embarrassment depends on the context and/or the situation. For instance, the following example can be interpreted in two ways.

watashi wa osake wo nonde shimatta
Two Meanings:
A. I finished drinking the alcohol. completion of action
B. I drank the alcohol (mistakenly, which I shouldn't have done) regret

Using Verb te-form shimau in present tense

You can use Verb te-form shimau in present tense to indicate that the completion the action in the near future.


1. 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 that by tomorrow.

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

3. 三時までに小説を読んでしまいます
sanji made ni shousetsu wo yonde shimaimasu
Meaning: I will finish reading the novel by 3pm.

Verb te-form shimau in present tense can also express the regret and embarrassment feeling as in the past tense.

hayaku ikanai to, okurete shimaimasu yo
Meaning: If you don't hurry up, you will be late (regret).

Difference between normal past tense and Verb te-form shimau sentences

Normal past tense of a verb can also express the completion of an action. For example,

yuube kono nureta T-shatsu wo kita mama nete, kaze wo hikimashita
Meaning: I caught a cold beacuse I slept with this wet T-shirt on yesterday night.

In the above example, "I caught a cold" is the completion of the action.

However, it is different from Verb te-form shimau in that while the above sentence (past tense) expresses the completion of an action in the past, Verb te-form shimau expresses completion regardless of the time of completion. For example,

kono nureta T-shatsu wo kita mama neru to, kaze wo hiichau yo.
Meaning: If you sleep with this wet T-shirt on, you will catch a cold (in the near future).

Informal version of te-form shimau

For casual spoken Japanese, te-form shimau can be shortened to chau and de-form shimau to jau.
~て + しまう becomes ちゃう (chau) present, and ちゃった (chatta) past
~で + しまう becomes じゃう (jau) present, and じゃった (jatta) past

忘れて + しまう becomes 忘れちゃう (wasure chau): will forget (will get to forget in a while)
忘れて + しまう becomes 忘れちゃった (wasure chatta): have forgotten

飲んで + しまう becomes 飲んじゃう (non jau): will drink up (will finish drinking in a while)
飲んで + しまう becomes 飲んじゃった (non jatta): have drunk


1. 彼は私との約束をすっかり忘れちゃった
kare wa watashi to no yakusoku wo sukkari wasure chatta
Meaning: He has completely forgotten his promise with me.

2. 私はお酒を飲んじゃった
watashi wa osake wo non jatta
Meaning: I finished drinking the alcohol.

Another set of informal version of te-form shimau and de-form shimau are ちまう (chimau) and じまう (jimau) respectively.

These two are rarely used and are only by male middle-aged speakers.

Related Page
How to use Verb te-form shimaimashita.

Hope this helps,
Kia Leng

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