Japanese

What Does tsurete Mean in Japanese?

What’s interesting about Japanese is that, from an English speaker’s perspective, it seems like they combine several different verbs to create new ones. There are quite a few example I could provide, but let’s just start with tsurete for now. What does tsurete mean in Japanese?

By itself the word tsurete, spelled 連れて in Japanese, is the te-form of the word 連れる and it means to lead, or to take (a person).

But that simple explanation isn’t really enough for practical reasons because you don’t really see 連れる used by itself. You will see it used in combination with one of two different verbs: 行く (iku) which means to go, or 来る (kuru) which means to come.

It might seem a little confusing from at first, so let’s take a look at some examples.

Tsurete Combined With Iku

It’s common to see 連れる and 行く combined with each other. How it works is that you put 連れる into its te-form and then you conjugate 行く into whichever form you need for the situation.

  • 私は火曜日に妹を公園に連れて行きます。
    Watashi wa kayōbi ni imōto o kōen ni tsurete ikimasu.
    I bring my sister to the park on Tuesdays.
  • どうして私を連れて行ってくれないの?
    Dōshite watashi o tsurete itte kurenai no?
    How come you aren’t taking me?
  • 彼は私を映画に連れて行くと約束した。
    Kare wa watashi o eiga ni tsurete iku to yakusoku shita.
    He made a promise to take me to the movies.

This combination of 連れて行く has become a lexical expression meaning “take someone” and is similar, but different, from other lexical expressions that use 行く. Here are a few others for comparison:

  • やって行く (yatte iku) = Get along
  • 持って行く (motte iku) = Take something
  • ついて行く (tsuite iku) = Accompany someone

And of course the primary one we’ve gone over in this section.

Tsurete Combined With Kuru

Where have you brought me?

On the flip side of the coin is 来る (kuru) which means to come. So combining 連れる and 来る means “to bring someone” to a place.

  • 誰かをパーティーに連れて来ました。
    Dareka o pātī ni tsurete kimashita.
    I brought someone to the party.
  • 彼は夫人を一緒に連れて来た。
    Kare wa fujin o issho ni tsurete kita.
    He brought his wife with him.

So it’s pretty simple. Keep 連れて in its te-form and use 行く when you want to “take someone” somewhere, or use 来る instead to “bring someone” to a place.

Just like 行く has some lexical expressions (連れて being one of them), 来る also has some as well. Check them out here:

  • やって来る (yatte kuru) = Come along
  • 持って来る (motte kuru) = Bring something
  • ついて来る (tsuite kuru) = Accompany someone

The primary difference between 連れて行く and 連れて来る is one of direction. Think of where you are and if the motion is going away from your current location, it would use 行く. But if it is heading towards your current location, then that would use 来る.

So there you go. 連れて will mean either to “take someone” or to “bring someone” depending on which verb you combine it with.

And A Final One

You could also combinen 連れて with 帰る (kaeru) witch means “to return” and has the connotation of returning home or to the place where one belongs.

What might you want to take home with you? Check out the video below for your answer!

  • 連れて帰っていい?
    Tsurete kaette ii?
    Can I bring him home?

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2 Comments

  • Massah

    I must say I learned something new today in Japanese about the meaning of Tsurete. I always saw it translated as “bring” but the word is actually used as a connective form “together” which has a slightly different nuance than I thought. Mainly the fact that the meaning is to take someone instead of something. Quite interesting article I may add. Very informative.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Yeah, that’s one of the downsides to using a mechanical device like Google Translate to look up a word. Sometimes it only gives you half an answer (like not saying that teurete needs iku or kuru) or it doesn’t distinguish between when you would use one word over another.

      Glad I could be of help!

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