Some tips to differentiate an involuntary act and just a completed act with ～てしまう sentences.
- Hi Coco-san. Thanks for making this article, your continueing tutelage is very appreciated.
- I wanted to make sure of something. Both "just a completed act" and "a just completed act" make sense but have different meanings. I want to confirm.
- "just a completed act" -- here "just" is similar to the meaning of だけ I think. 終わった行為だけ（？）
- "a just completed act" -- here "just" is similar to the meaning of ～たところ. 行為が終わったところ、 終わったところの行為 (?)
- Gundaetiapo 21:24, 10 August 2007 (EDT)
- I wanted to say;
- To differentiate [a sentence that has an emotional tone ]and [a sentence that doesn't have it]( = it tells only a fact without regret). But now I don't think it needs "just" in this context.
- I wanted to say;
- Sometimes, I, myself, really have difficulties to understand my なんちゃって英語 which I had written. ＾＾;
- Thank you for pointing out and please feel free to correct every article.--Coco 04:22, 11 August 2007 (EDT)
- I think you did fine, I was just making sure. Gundaetiapo 09:47, 11 August 2007 (EDT)
- I appreciate your questions. It would be a very sensitive matter to explain the differences of nuance the phrase brings. So asking that kind of question and making it sure is very important. Thank you.--Coco 05:20, 12 August 2007 (EDT)
As this article says, ～てしまう is used when the action is completed. On the other hand it is used to express a regret of a speaker. The context shows you which meaning the speaker intend to say. However you can find it easier by paying attention the verb placed before て.
Conscious act (?)
When a verb is a conscious act, it has less possibility of regretted meaning.
Let's finish off that assignment, immediately. (?)
This is easy to find because it is a call for people to finish their job. There is no regretful meaning in this sentence.
I finished memorizing all Hiragana, so I'm going to learn Kanji from now. (?)
To memorize is conscious act and the speaker did it with his/her intention.
When this kind of positive verbs are placed, Vてしまう would be taken as " had done/ finish ～ing" rather than implication of speaker's regret.
ついにマンションを買っちゃった。( in-group talk)
Finally, I bought an apartment house. (?)
Generally,ちゃった is more common rather than てしまった/てしまいました in this type of expression. This sentence has ついに, and the subject is 私. So this has no regretful meaning. A speaker just reported the fact with some playfulness tone.
Unconscious act/ involuntarily act(?)
Oh, no! I forgot to lock the door.(?)
しまった itself is an emotional interjection, like " Oh, no!" " Oh, Shoot!(?)". Thus てしまった form is also used under undesirable circumstances.
When I dined at a restaurant, I dropped an expensive wineglass and it had broken.(?)
A speaker didn't expect the wineglass broke, but it happened involuntarily. In this kind of expression, てしまった implies " involuntarily happened ". Then listeners take it as a regretful expression.
I could not help laughing at Tanuki's post.
思わず+ てしまった is a common phrase. It is used when people have done things unconsciously.
Sometimes 思わず is omitted. Although it's depends on the context, listeners would take as 思わず+ てしまう. 笑ってしまいました itself has not a negative meaning . On the other hand, 怒鳴ってしまった could be a regretable remembrance. Therefore, the context and the verb would become key factors to understand てしまう form.
This has a resemblance to an uninvoluntarily act. But the doer could not control a situation by his/her intention. ちゃった give us a nuance of "casualness" stronger.
Generally ちゃった is more popular rather than てしまった in this kind of usage.
I won a lottoly. (?)
This is also " an unexpected things happened" type, don't have a feeling of "unfortunately".
This kind of expression has some tone of 思いがけなく.
At the restroom of the event site, I have heard the confidential information about the new product of our competitor.(?)
This has also a tone of "unintentional". In this context, a speaker might have felt like dancing. Anyway, this てしまった implies " I didn't intend to hear it". (?)
極秘情報を聞いちゃったよ。( in-group talk. An ending particle よ in this context is common to male.)
This has less seriousness, sometimes even playful sounds are there.
Same verbて形 + しまった with different nuances(?)
Even if you hear/see the same verb with て form and しまった, it's not always have a same nuance. Some of them give us a regretful impressions, others don't. You need to understand the context.
For instance, let's look at the phrase 忘れてしまった。
Unfortunately, I have completely forgotten Japanese.
If a speaker don't want to forget Japanese, "unfortunately" would be appropriate, and this sentence must be so. However, if the speaker wants to tell you his/her regret, 残念なことに/残念ながら would be added. If you hear/see 「残念なことに、私はすっかり日本語を忘れてしまいました。」Then, undoubtedly the speaker expresses his/her regret..
I have completely forgotten all about my ex-lover. (?)
This sentence has すっかり. Also it is hard to find if a speaker wanted to forget or not. So it would be safe to take it as " had completely done" rather than regret. And it would be better to not reply like よかった(です)ね or それは(お)気の毒に. そうですか might be the safest response.
I've left the book that I was going to give it back to you.(?)
In this sentence a speaker mentions her/his fault. Therefore listeners would find a regret of the speaker. Commonly this type of てしまいました would be used with an apology phrase, such as すみません/ ごめんなさい。
The cases of avoiding てしまった
As above explanations, てしまった could have a nuance of "unwished things have happened". That is a reason of a tendency to avoid using しまった form in some contexts. For example,
Mr.Johnson have arrived at the Naritai airport.(?)
Even if a speaker didn't expect Mr. Johnson's coming, he/she wouldn't say ジョンソンさんが成田空港に着いてしまいました. Because it has a high possibility to be taken as if the speaker doesn't welcome Mr.Jonson's arrival. もうジョンソンさんは成田空港に着いています would be a neutral expression.
Mr. Johnson have arrived at Narita ( international airport), instead of Haneda(domestic airport)(?).
This is a natural expression because even if listeners suppose that it "unfortunately" happened, (and it is so,) it is very clear that the unwished thing is "arrived at Narita", not Mr.Johnson's arrival.