[JLPT grammar] The Nuance of 〜てしまう : Expressing Regret and Sympathy

Today I’m sharing an answer I gave to a question from my student taking my course. I hope it helps you in your Japanese learning journey!


[Question from a student]


Is it suitable to use -てしまった in this sort of sentence to add the nuance that dropping the toy was a sad/chance accident? Or is it best to just say 落とした and leave it without?



[My answer]

The usage of 〜てしまう indeed implies a sense of regret or sympathy concerning the fact that the child has dropped the toy. In other words, it can express a degree of care or concern towards the child’s feelings.
On the other hand, simply stating 落とした conveys only the objective fact that the child dropped the toy, much like a neutral report.
So, if you find yourself thinking, “Oh my gosh, that poor boy/girl dropped his/her toy,” then you should opt for 落としてしまった.


I hope my explanation helps you. 😊


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