させてもらう

Bonnie2607

Member
Polish
させてもらう What does it actually mean?

Before asking this question, I've done a good amount of research. I learned that させてもらう conveys the nuance of "allow me to do" or "I'll have you let me do X" or "I'll take the liberty of doing X" or even "May I?" However, in my native language, we rarely use causative forms, and learning them in English was a bit of a struggle. That's why it's so hard for me to wrap my head around this concept.

If someone says:
Context: a coworker about doing a project on her own.
自分でやらせてもらうことにしました

What does she really say?

A friend of mine (a Japanese friend) told me to think about it as "もらう = you're thankful" and "させる = you let yourself do sth because you don't want to burden other people" So, technically you're grateful for taking the burden from other people. Well, in the work context it seems just fine. But then I saw this sentence.

私はそれを参考にさせてもらうよ。
I can't apply her logic at all to this one.

Help!
 
  • Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    This may be yet another rant by a native speaker who does not know the predicaments of a learner, but it'd be best if you check the basic grammar first. Being grateful, however technically, is probably not at the centre of your problem.

    The verb augment させる is the marker of causative. In a more translation-friendly description, it is either coercion or permission. Which of the two is intended need be understood from the context:
    AはBに西瓜を食べさせた。
    A causes B to eat some watermelon. If B likes watermelon, させる here is probably permission. If watermelon is their archenemy, coercion is the intended sense. In your examples, however, both instances of させる are used as permission due to their collocation with もらう.

    Now, moving on to もらう. This is like the English, "have someone do something." When there is no apparent subject, it is usually, "I have you do."


    自分でやらせてもらうことにしました <- This is too complicated to analyze without preparation, so I will lower the level one notch below:
    自分でやってもらうことにしました

    This is simply, "I've decided to have you (or someone contextually relevant) do it on your own." When you add させる in the mix, you need to understand that the subject for doing the project will be the first person by virtue of もらう. The above example, in a stupidly-verbose phraseology, can be translated into:
    I've decided to have you allow me to do it on my own.

    When this construction is actually used, however, permission is not always sought; neither from the listener or someone else. Permission-seeking, if ever done, is likely reflexive. In other words, the speaker has given themselves permission. If you are interested in the idiomatic level, then you can say that させてもらう is often, "I will do it even if someone cries over it."

    参考にさせてもらう can be understood in two steps as above. 参考にしてもらう is like, "I'll have you use this as a model/example." Add させる in the sentence, and you will get something like, "Let me use this as a model/example."
     

    Bonnie2607

    Member
    Polish
    @Flaminius that's a game-changer tbh!
    However, from my perspective (Polish perspective) this sounds rude, and in Polish culture, it might even offend some people as in "What? you did not care to consult it with me or anyone else first?
    Is it just a phrase that people use at work because in Japanese culture it is considered polite? Can you use it when you talk to people who are your superiors?

    EDIT:
    "Let me use this as a model/example."
    You lost me on this one.
    参考にさせて means exactly the same thing.
    What's the difference then?
     
    Last edited:

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    [T]his sounds rude
    Assuming "this" refers to "permission is not always sought," an explanation I made on 自分でやらせてもらうことにしました, it is exactly what I meant. Perhaps I should't have analyzed an utterance without context (please quote, describe, or summarise the text in which you found this sentence), if this understanding is awkward in your context.

    Can you use it when you talk to people who are your superiors?
    Unless you are picking a fight with your boss, no. A natural sentence to describe a peaceful relegation of power to do things is:
    自分でやらせてもらうことになりました。 or
    自分でやらせてもらえることになりました。

    Note that なる refers to a natural development or an action wrought by someone else. In other words, the first person does not have a hand in it. See how amenable this is with permission-seeking?

    If you are seeking permission from your boss, then:
    自分でやらせてもらえないでしょうか? or even politer
    自分でやらせてもらえませんでしょうか?

    参考にさせて means exactly the same thing.
    What's the difference then?
    The light imperative by -te is actually an abbreviation of てもらう, てもらいたい, てください, or so. The abbreviated construction is, needless to say, somewhat more casual than fuller forms.
     

    SoLaTiDoberman

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    自分でやらせてもらうことにしました。=自分でします。
    ="I will do it by myself."
    (This phrase is a kenjo (謙譲表現) expression. So the speaker may be talking to their boss and/or co-workers in a formal setting.)

    それを参考にさせてもらうよ。 =参考にします。(参考になります。)
    ="Thank you. That's helpful." (The speaker is a boss and they are talking to their subordinate.)

    I think these things are very complicated and difficult to understand by grammatical analysis.
    Maybe it's faster to learn it as an idiom one by one, with its usage when to use.
     

    Bonnie2607

    Member
    Polish
    @Flaminius I meant that させてもらう sounds somehow rude. It gives off that "bossy" vibe to me. Now I know it's mostly because Polish culture is a bit different, and I kept looking for some Polish equivalent, a phrase, and context and there's none. We always seek permission.

    My Japanese friend sent this sentence to me. She tried to explain させてもらう. But she didn't give me too many details regarding the context of the sentence.

    But I think I get it now.
    It's like saying "Do me a favor and let me do X" or "Would that be ok if I handled this myself?" In both cases, you're not really asking your speaker. You somehow know they will say 'yes.'

    ことにする means "to decide." I checked what "decide" actually means and I got "to influence someone so that they make a particular choice"
    So, you "want" your speaker to act in a certain way. It's not like "I made the choice" (which is another meaning of "to decide.")

    So, to sum up! It's a polite way to announce or to declare your decision.

    @SoLaTiDoberman Thanks! However, I'm that kind of a learner that won't be able to sleep at night if I don't learn how things work. I really need to understand something first.
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    So, to sum up! It's a polite way to announce or to declare your decision.
    I honestly don't understand your previous paragraphs, or how you reached the conclusion there, but you hit the nail on the head with the secondary meaning of させてもらう. It is primarily an expression for seeking permission, but it also means a polite declaration of one's decision. Finally, the politeness can be used to conceal a very strong emotion (this is my "I will do it even if someone cries over it.").
     

    Bonnie2607

    Member
    Polish
    Well, in my own twisted understanding I managed to reach the right conclusion, which makes me happy! Your contribution was a great help!
    I posted this answer on a different forum, but I'll post it here too. I know a lot of people struggle with causative forms in Japanese. I hope someone will find it useful.

    させる alone can be translated as "let" or "make."(causative forms)

    てもらう is not a causative form in Japanese, but many English resources translate it to "get someone to do sth," which is a causative form. That's kind of misleading. I always think about it as "receiving a favor" and the focus is on the "action", not "person" (~てくれる focuses on the person)

    ことにする means "to decide." However, "to decide" means "to influence someone so that they make a particular choice" as well. It's like saying "I want to you to ~" There's even a causative form in English with this verb, "decide someone to do something."

    自分で (myself) やらせて (and let me do it) もらう (do me a favor) ことにしました (I want you to/ I'll influence you to)

    私はそれを参考(as a reference) にさせて(and let me use it (それ)) もらう (do me a favor)よ

    Another thing to consider is that させてもらう may sound like you're looking for permission, but you're not really; you somehow know you'll hear "yes, you can do it" from your speaker. It's not something you'd say to your boss tho. Friends and coworkers, yes.

    Would that be ok, If I did it myself? That could be an English equivalent. It doesn't match the Japanese version at all. It's a question, but you somehow know you'll hear "yeah, sure."

    The second conditional in English sounds quite indirect and therefore polite. Japanese people like to be indirect and polite and we need a structure that will convey such nuances. If I were to translate Would that be ok, If I did it myself? back to Japanese, I'd probably go for たら or ば because that's a conditional structure in Japanese. However, させてもらう gives off the nuance of "I kind of made the decision that I'll do the thing myself, and I'm just letting you know guys I'll do it. But since I don't want to come across as bossy I will use a structure that will make you think it's a question, but it's not, but still, you'll say yes as I expected." (I'm not sure if that makes sense to you, it does to me.)

    It is better to "translate" concepts and contexts, not words. Polite structures to polite structures even if grammatically/linguistically they don't match.

    A note regarding させてもらう in anime/manga. In anime/manga, it can be used in an aggressive, assertive manner as a fancy way of saying that you'll have your way in something, either do it yourself or make the other side do something.
     
    Top