ておく (teoku) Meaning Japanese Grammar - In Advance

Author Sandro Maglione for article 'ておく (teoku) Meaning Japanese Grammar - In Advance'

Sandro Maglione

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ておく (teoku) Meaning Japanese Grammar - In Advance

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[without て]+とく
Verb[without で]+どく

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



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


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.


I'll think about it.


I leave here 1000 yen in advance.

ことにしておく: leave things as they were

An expression that uses ておく is ことにしておく. This expression is used to mean something that you pretend didn't happen, leave things as they were before an event occurred:


Let's leave it as that.

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:


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.


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:


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)


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

Examples of ておく


Contact in advance by email.


Leave it as it was at the beginning.


Understand him well in advance.


Be quiet!