Monday, August 31, 2009

Japanese verbs ~te + iru (~て+いる) form usage

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In my previous post on ~te (~て) form before this long weekend, I was conjugating verbs and learned simple command usage for ~te:
  • 食べ (Tabete): "Eat."
  • 読ん (Yonde): "Read."
as well as polite request usage ~te + kudasai (equal to "verb + please"):
  • Please eat = tabete kudasai
Today I'll be learning ~て+いる usage.

Continuous Actions ~て+いる


A verb's te form with iru is used to show continuous action. This is probably the most used verb form of them all. Iru by itself is an ichidan verb meaning "to be; to exist," and when connected to another verb using the Te Form means "to be doing (something)."
  • 待っている matte iru: "I am waiting",
  • 知っている shitte iru: "I'm knowing" = "I know",
  • 持っている matte iru: "I'm having" = "I have",
  • ここに住んでいる koko ni sunde iru: "I'm living here" = "I live here".
The "i" in "iru" often disappears, so
  • 待っている matte iru becomes 待ってる matteru "I'm having" = "I have",
  • 知っている shitte iru becomes 知ってる shitteru "I'm knowing" = "I know"
  • Watashi wa koko ni iru. (I am here.)
  • Watashi wa aruite iru. (I am walking.)
  • Karera wa zasshi o yonde iru. (They are reading a magazine.)
  • Watashitachi wa Takamatsu ni sunde iru. (We are living in Takamatsu.)
  • Shizuko wa tabete iru. (Shizuko is eating.)
  • Kanojo wa sushi o tabetei ru. (She is eating sushi.)
  • Bill wa nihongo o benkyou shiteru. (Bill is studying Japanese.)
Japanese use the continuous form much more than English does (link).
"What did you do last night?" becomes "What were you doing last night?" Accordingly, the answer will be in the same tense.
  • Sakuban nani o shite imashita ka. (What were you doing last night?)
  • Terebi o mite imashita. (I was watching TV.)
Difference between English and Japanese continuous actions

A "V-te iru" form in Japanese is widely believed to be a grammatical equivalent of "be V-ing" (progressive form) in English. Here are instances found at: A Study of "V-te iru" in Japanese by Taeko Tomioka:
  • Hanako wa ima hon o yondeiru. 花子は今本を読んでいる。Hanako is now reading a book.
  • Hikoki ga sora o tondeiru. 飛行機が空を飛んでいる。An airplane is flying in the sky.
Cases above are a perfect Japanese - English match. However, quite often, this is not the case. Japanese "V-te iru" usually doesn't have a "progressive" meaning, but it shows that some activity was done and now the speaker is focusing on the result of that activity. To get some flavor of this, here are few sentences:
  • Sono inu wa shindeiru. その犬は死んでいる。The dog is dead. (Not: The dog is dying.)
  • Kare wa futotteiru. 彼は太っている。 He is fat. (Not: He is getting fat.)
  • Okane ga michi ni ochiteiru. お金が道に落ちている。Somebody dropped money on the street. (Not: Money is falling onto the street.)
  • Chichi wa shujutsu-shitsu ni haitteiru. 父は手術室に入っている。My father is in an operating room. (Not: My father is entering an operating room.)
  • Otto wa totemo tsukareteiru. 夫はとても疲れている。My husband is very tired. (Not: My husband is getting very tired.)

2 comments:

  1. kore 持っている yomu wa MOtteiru -matteiru jya nai

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  2. Yes, 持っている should be MOtteiru. You have it as matteiru (which is waiting)

    待っている matte iru: "I am waiting",
    知っている shitte iru: "I'm knowing" = "I know",
    ** 持っている matte iru: "I'm having" = "I have",
    ここに住んでいる koko ni sunde iru: "I'm living here" = "I live here".

    Thank you for the guide though!! :D Very useful!

    ReplyDelete