Japanese · SLAP (Speak Like A Person) Exercises

SLAP#4 “I wasted a whole day watching that drama”…the 〜ちゃう/〜じゃう of indulging in guilty pleasures.

Just moved to France this week! Before moving, I bought myself a new backpack. I didn’t need one. But I was getting annoyed with my old one, and this sentence came to mind:

あたらしい りゅっく かっちゃった ふふふ
new + backpack + buy + ちゃった + sheepish laughter
I bought a new backpack. hehehe

Here is the same sentence on Twitter with a rough translation:

Ahhh!! Couldn’t help but buy a new backpack. Wanna use it ASAP!! Arrive already!!

Then I found this hashtag on Instagram: #またかっちゃった:

Couldn’t keep myself from making another purchase. Oh my!

OK, but what does 〜ちゃった actually mean?

= 買ってしまった
= 買う (in て-form) +しまう (in past tense)
= to buy + auxiliary verb “~shimau”

In class, we often learn that [verb(in て-form)+しまう] is used for two reasons:

  1. to say that we finished doing something
  2. to say that we did something regrettable, unexpected, by accident

That means that the sentence
おかし ぜんぶ たべちゃった
can mean both:

  1. “I finished eating all the snacks/candy”
  2. “I accidentally ate all the snacks/candy” (oops! sorry!)

Incidentally, this is how Jimmy Kimmel’s segment on parents telling their children, “I ate all your Halloween candy” is translated into Japanese:


See this explanation to review this grammar

The 〜てしまう featured in this SLAP exercise is way more fabulous.

We can think of it as “I couldn’t help but…” or “I couldn’t stop myself from…”. In other words, you know you shouldn’t do something, but you do it anyway. Like the 2nd meaning, we’re doing something that’s not totally justified. However unlike the 2nd meaning, we don’t actually regret doing what we did. If you look back at the screenshots I posted at the top, you’ll see that the people who use 買っちゃった don’t seem regretful at all!

It’s like when you’re on a diet and you know you shouldn’t eat those snacks… but you do it anyway, and enjoy every second of it. Then you can recount the story to your friends: お菓子全部食べちゃったよ!And your friends may reply, ええ!うそ!”What?! You’re kidding right?”

Most of the times I encounter this expression in this context is when talking about taxis. Taxis are expensive, especially in Tokyo! And when you have awesome public transportation options, there’s no 100% justifiable reason to take one. But maybe you and your friends are tired. In which case you may ask your friend:

taxi + (direction particle) + to ride + ちゃう (in suggestion form)
Shall we just take a taxi?

Back to my backpack: 買っちゃった in this instance doesn’t mean that I bought the backpack by accident, but that I bought it knowing full well that it was not a 100% justifiable purchase. In fact, my first post-grad job doesn’t start until next week, so I’m technically unemployed. But who cares! In a fun conversation with my friends, I’d say 見て!新しいリュック買っちゃったよ♪ (Check out my new backpack :D).

⚠️  Just keep in mind that ちゃう/じゃう does have the effect of making you sound mischievous and slightly flippant. So don’t over-use it!


Your turn!

Did you do something recently fully aware that it was not the most justifiable course of action? Convert the following to the 〜ちゃう/じゃう form:

  • Did you take a break from work and watch an entire TV series in one night?
    どらま ぜんぶ みた
    →→→→→ ドラマ全部見てしまった, so… Link to answer
  • Did you drink too much?
    →→→→→ ちょっと飲みすぎてしまった, so… Link to answer
  • Did you tell a lie? It was just a teeny tiny white lie, right?
    うそつく (to lie)
    →→→→→ うそついてしまった, so… Link to answer (Japanese title of children’s book Ruthie and the Teeny Tiny Lie)

You can now talk about indulging in your guilty pleasures… and Sound Like A Person too, so what are you waiting for? Use these in your conversations! Or comment below with a sentence you made!

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