彼らは食事を済ませた。

English Translation

They finished their meal.

How does 済ませる differ from 済む ?

@ericaw
You cannot replace 済ませる with 済む in this grammatical structure.

済む means “to do without X” or “be exempted from obligation X”. Therefore, 食事を済む (i.e. using 済む as an transitive verb) is grammatically broken. The only way you can use both 食事 and 済む (i.e. an intransitive verb) is 食事なしで済む (meaning “we were supposed to serve some meal to our guests. but the meeting took shorter than we expected, so we actually didn’t have to serve meal”.)

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