Hello again fellow Japanese language students! For todays blog, we will be learning all about how to use -ておきます(-te okimasu). 

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You have probably encountered this phrase before as it is one of the few basics things you learn in the beginning of your Japanese learning journey.  We will be focusing on one specific use, and that is to express “I leave it as is” or “to maintain/ to keep”. Although this is one of the few basic phrases you learn, it has multiple uses and is one of the phrases that can make anyone sound like a native speaker!

A closer look into its kanji: Oku: – 置く: おく

As we mentioned in our previous blogs, the best way to understand a Japanese word is to look into its kanji. In this case, we have “置 (お)”. This main kanji has many meanings and usages but the 4 main meanings are as follows; 

(1) to leave (behind)

Yabai! Saifu wo densha ni oite kita.
Oh no! I left my wallet on the train.

(2) to put/place/set

Kaban wo te-buru no ue ni oite kudasai.
Please place the bag on the table.

(3) (following a 〜て verb) to prepare for something in the future. 

Dekakeru mae ni asa gohan wo tabete okou.
Let’s eat breakfast before we leave.

and (4) (following a 〜て verb)to keep/maintain soemthing in a state

Me wo shimete okimasu!
Keep your eyes closed!

As you can see, the meanings are all quite different but quite close to each others uses and meanings. We will be mainly focusing on one of the usages but as they are quite close, we think it’ll be quite easy for you to apply what you learn in using all of -ておきます(-te okimasu)’ functions!

-ておきます(-te okimasu) – “Leave it as is, to keep, to maintain”

As what we mentioned above, we will mainly be focusing on one of the main functions of -ておきます(-te okimasu). This blog will be mainly about the function of “Leave it as is, to maintain, or to keep”. Before we get into it, we need to take a look at the sentence structure and how to use it. 

Looking at the phrase itself, we know that we will be using the ”〜て” form of a verb, then attaching -oku, -okimasu, and -oku’s other conjugations which we will discuss later on in the blog. To better understand the sentence structure, please look below for a few simple examples to help you master our blog topic for today.

Verb base (masu) Verb base (masu) Verb base+ て 

  • 食べます (tabemasu: to eat) →食べます → 食べて(tabete)
  • 開けます (akemasu: to open) →開けます → 開けて(akete)
  • 置きます (okimasu: to put) →置きます → 置いて(oite)
  • 習います (naraimasu: to learn) →習います 習って(naratte) 

After getting the correct-te form of the verb, that’s when you can finally add -oku to your verb (-te form). Please look at the examples below.

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Verb (masu form) Verb (て form) + おく

  • 食べます (tabemasu: to eat) → 食べておく(tabete oku: keep eating)
  • 開けます (akemasu: to open) → 開けておく(akete oku: keep open)
  • 置きます (okimasu: to put) → 置いておく(oite oku: to put and leave)
  • 習います (naraimasu: to learn)習っておく(naratte oku: to maintain learning)

Easy, right? Try practicing by using different verbs, converting them to their -te forms and then adding -oku. Now that you know how to make the actual sentence pattern, lets go to how it’s actually used and what situations to use it.

Like what we mentioned earlier, we will focus on the “Leave as is, to keep, to maintain” usage. This will apply when you would like to express actions that you would like to continuously be done, or to not stop. Please look at the examples below to better understand what we’re talking about!

Moto no mama ni shite oku.
Leave it as it is originally.

Based on the example above, -ておきます(-te okimasu) is quite straight-forward– it expresses trying to actively maintain or keep something in its current condition or state. Here are a few more sentence examples to help you out!


Kono nomimono wa tsumetai kata ga ii nomu kara nomu toki made reizouko ni irete okimasu.

This drink should be cold when drunk so keep it in the refrigerator until you drink it.

Doa wo shimete oite kudasai.
Please keep the door closed.
Kanojyou wa watashi ni sore wo himitsu ni shite oku you ni tanonda.
She asked(requested) for me to keep it a secret.
Watashi ga itta koto wo oboete oku beki desu.
Keep in mind what I told you.
Mou kore ijyou ikari wo osaete oku koto wa dekisou mo nai.
I do not think I will be able to hold (keep/maintain) in my anger any more.

-ておきません(-te okimasen) – “Does not keep/does not maintain”

This is simply the negative form of what we have been learning so far in this blog. Just start with the basics in its negative form.

Verb (て form) + おきます Verb (て form) + おきません・おかない

  • 食べておく(tabete oku: keep eating) → 食べておきません (tabete okimasen: not to keep eating)
  • 開けておく(akete oku: keep open) → 開けておかない (akete okanai: not to keep open)
  • 置いておく(oite oku: to put and leave) → 置いておきません (oite okimasen: to not put and leave)
  • 習っておく(naratte oku: to maintain learning)→ 習っておかない (naratte okanai: to not maintain learning)

Here’s a few sentence examples to help you out.

Kare wa jibun no heya wo kirei ni shite okimasen.
He doesn't keep his room clean.
Ashita kanojyou wa shiken ga arimasu kara asobasete okanai!
She has a test tomorrow so she can’t play anymore!

(**“Asobu” can mean to go out or do fun things)

Slowly make your way up to adding more words and phrases to it, making it more complicated as you go. Easy peasy! Just keep on practicing and you can master this in no time. 

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