574 - ~ていない

If you have been following this site for a while, then you've probably heard me mention more than a few times that ~ている acts as both the "present progressive" (think "~ing") tense and the present perfect (think "have ~ed") tense.

Feel free master this by going over these two lessons:
- [NDL #524] - Basics: ~ている
- [NDL #531] - Basics: ~ていた

By reading both of those, you will have essentially mastered the following N4 grammar point:


JLPT N4: ~ていない (haven't ~ yet)

I'll keep it short and simple: ~ていない is used when an action has not been done yet.

For this reason, it is often translated as "have not VERB-ed (yet)."

In a more formal sentence, ~ていない will be ~ていません, and in a more casual sentence it will be ~てない.

I'm guessing that you won't come across abbreviations like ~てない in the JLPT, but this is the form that you will probably hear used most often in everyday spoken Japanese. It's also common to hear ~てません.


An example:


家族にはまだ彼氏を紹介していません
かぞく に は まだ かれし を しょうかい していません。
I haven’t introduced my boyfriend to my family yet.
Literally: “family + には + not yet + boyfriend + を + introduction + haven’t done.”


I'm a nerd, so I think this is fascinating:

A sentence like "I'm not introducing my boyfriend to my parents" can mean "I don't plan to introduce my boyfriend to my parents."

But in Japanese the sentence "I'm not introducing my boyfriend to my parents" means "I haven't introduced my boyfriend to my parents (but I intend to do so eventually)."


It is worth noting that this "haven't VERB-ed (yet)" is not the usage we see in a sentence like "I haven't been to Disneyland."

That is, it is not used to talk about one's (lack of) experiences. Instead, we use it to talk about an action that should have been done already but hasn't. This includes an action that one would expect to have been completed by now that is not yet done.

So I suppose it would be appropriate for "I haven't been to Disneyland (yet)" if you are living in an apartment just down the street from Disneyland. Make sense?

Here's another example:


A:
もう宿題をやった?
もう しゅくだい を やった?
Did you already do your homework?
Literally: “already + homework + を + did?”


B:
ううん、まだやってない
ううん、 まだ やってない。
No, I haven’t done it yet.
Literally: “no, + not yet + haven’t done.”


Another formal sentence:

誰を誕生日パーティーに誘うかまだ決めていません
だれ を たんじょうび パーティー に さそう か まだ きめていません。
I haven’t decided who I’m going to invite to my birthday party yet.
Literally: “who + を + birthday + party + に + invite + か + not yet + have not decided.”


And a formal dialogue:

A:
風邪は治りましたか。
かぜ は なおりましたか。
Is your cold better?
Literally: “cold + は + healed + か?”


B:
いいえ、まだ治っていません
いいえ、 まだ なおっていません。
No, it hasn’t gotten better yet.
Literally: “no, + not yet + hasn’t healed.”


Finally, we can look at something that is really bothering me.

One of my grammar books says that this ~ていない cannot be used when talking about a situation that has passed.

For example, they would argue that B is wrong in the following dialogue:


A:
きのう昼寝をしましたか。
きのう ひるね を しましたか。
Did you take a nap yesterday?
Literally: “yesterday + nap + を + did + か?”


B:
✖ いいえ、ていません
✖ いいえ、 していません。
✖ No, I haven’t.
Literally: “no, + haven’t done.”


Now, saying that B is incorrect here certainly makes sense from an English speaker's perspective, right? Answering this question with "No, I haven't" would be very strange. These authors argue that Japanese is the same. "Yesterday" is over, so this is not longer an action that should be done eventually but has not been done yet. Instead, the following is the correct response:


B:
〇 いいえ、しませんでした。
〇 いいえ、 しませんでした。
〇 No, I didn’t.
Literally: “no, + did not do.”


I agree... to a certain extent. This is a perfectly natural response.

There's just one problem: I have definitely heard people use ~ていない when talking about an action that (1) was not done when it should have been and (2) cannot be done anymore.

In other words, it would not be all that strange to hear a native Japanese speaker use the "incorrect" form above (=いいえ、していません). It would apparently be marked wrong on a grammar test, but grammar rules don't always match up with the way people talk, right?


Anyway, I'm a bit surprised to see this listed as N4 grammar, as I think it's a fundamental aspect of the Japanese language that should be taught alongside the introduction of ~ている and ~ていた, which is why it was in our Basics lessons.

↑ That's just my way of saying that you should go over this grammar point until you get a really good feel for it.




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