ておく (teoku) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

Author Sandro Maglione for article 'ておく (teoku) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]'

Sandro Maglione

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ておく (teoku) Meaning Japanese [JLPT N4]

The expression ておく (teoku) is used to indicate doing something beforehand, doing something before necessary.

ておく indicates an action done previously, in advance, and it can be interpreted literally as do something and leave it as it is (for later)....

In this post we learn more about the meaning of ておく, how it is formed, and when ておく is used through real example sentences.


How ておく is formed

ておく consists of:

  • Preceding verb in the て form
  • Verb おく, which means to put, to place, to leave

ておく can also be contracted to とく (or どく for verbs in the て form conjugating with で). This form is more common in drama, manga and anime.

Verb[て]+おく
Verb[without て]+とく
Verb[without で]+どく

Let's see some examples of conjugations for the form ておく:

()
()
()って
()っておく
(みが)
(みが)
(みが)いて
(みが)いておく
()
()
()って
()っておく
(ふく)(しゅう)する
(ふく)(しゅう)する
(ふく)(しゅう)して
(ふく)(しゅう)しておく
(やす)
(やす)
(やす)んで
(やす)んでおく
(やす)
(やす)
(やす)んで
(やす)
(やす)どく

(らい)(げつ)(ほっ)(かい)(どう)()くから、ホテルを()(やく)しておきます。

I'm going to Hokkaido next month, so I'll book a hotel in advance.

おく comes from the kanji 置, which forms the godan verb ()く: to put, to place

How and when to use ておく

ておく is used in all those cases where an action is done in advance, before when it is necessary. Doing this action in advance can have mainly 2 reasons:

  • Do something now to avoid not being possible later (like making a reservation)
  • Do something now to prevent an unwanted event from happening in the future (such as brushing your teeth to prevent cavities). In this sense ておく indicates an action in order to maintain the current situation for as long as possible

(まい)(にち)()(みが)いておくと、(むし)()(ふせ)ぎます。

If you brush your teeth every day you can avoid cavities.

In any case, ておく means an action taken to improve a future situation in a preventive manner.

(かんが)えておきます。

I'll think about it.

(せん)(えん)、ここに()いておく。

I leave here 1000 yen in advance.

ことにしておく: leave things as they were

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ておく and the potential form せる and させる

When the preceding verb おく is in the potential form, the sentence assumes a sense of command towards a person of lower status, a child, or an animal.

The form させておく in fact indicates allowing or not allowing something to remain in a certain state. For this reason the nuance of the sentence can be very direct, indicating a sense of authority and command:

()わせておけばいい。

Let him say what he wants.

ておかない: don't let this go on

Whent ておく is conjugated in the negative form ておかない the expression indicates not allowing the current situation to continue in the future.

The basic meaning is the same, but in the negative: do something in advance so that something in the future will not be like now.

これ()(じょう)(あそ)ばせておかない。

I won't let you play anymore.

ておいた: having already done something in advance

The form ておく when おく is conjugated in the past tense becomes ておいた.

This form again indicates something that was made in advance for a future event (even if おく is in the past tense).

The past tense indicates that the action was done in advance some time ago already:

明後日(あさって)はコンサートですから、切符(きっぷ)()っておきました。

The concert is the day after tomorrow so I've already bought the tickets.

In the example we can define 3 moments indicated by ておいた:

  • Past: when I bought the tickets in advance
  • Present: at this moment when I am saying the sentence
  • Future: situation I prepared for in advance (concert)

アニメを()るために、つけておいたんだ。

I turned it on (in the past) to watch anime.


Examples of ておく

メールで(れん)(らく)しておく。

Contact in advance by email.

もとのままにしておく。

Leave it as it was at the beginning.

(かれ)のことをよく()かっておく。

Understand him well in advance.

だまっとけ!

Be quiet!

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