700 - ~ている (has been; is)

JLPT N4: ~ている (has been; is)

I've mentioned this in many of our other learning materials before, but the ~ている conjugation form is pretty versatile. It can act as the present progressive (e.g. "is doing"), the present perfect progressive (e.g. "have been doing"), and some other uses that we'll be looking at in this lesson.

For a refresher, you may wish to look at these lessons:
- [NDL #524] - Basics: ~ている
- [NDL #449] - JLPT N4: ~ている (original shape)
- [NDL #451] - JLPT N2: ~ている (narrative present tense)

The various grammar books that I referenced while writing this lesson seem to over-complicate ~ている. I'll spare you the bulk of their wordy explanations.

Instead, I have a simple description of ~ている:It is used to express an ongoing state.

Consider the following sentence:


今日は6時半に起きた
きょう は ろくじはん に おきた。
Today I woke up at 6:30.
Literally: “today + は + 6:30 + に + got up / woke up.”

The action in that sentence, 起きた (おきた), "woke up; got up," is not ongoing. It is just describing a single moment that the action "waking up" was done in the past.

Compare that with the verb 起きている (おきている). Literally, that's something like "is waking up; am waking up." Hearing that in English, we would perhaps imagine someone's eyes fluttering, the movement of their body as they slowly leave the world of dreams and enter the waking world.

The Japanese conjures up a slightly different mental image: Being awake.

That's why we can have a sentence like this:


もう24時間も起きてるよ。
もう にじゅうよじかん も おきてる よ。
I've been awake for 24 hours now.
Literally: “already + 24 hours + も + am awake (=am waking up) + よ.”
Note: 起きてる (おきてる) is a more colloquial way of saying 起きている (おきている). In polite language, you can use 起きてます (おきてます), which is more colloquial than 起きています (おきています).

If you have a grammar book like mine, it might tell you that this phenomenon is describing "the result of a change that continues" and go on to say that this usage of ~ている "uses verbs of momentariness (verbs that express momentary actions)."

Right. Whatever.


Here is another example:


そのスピーカーは壊れています
その スピーカー は こわれています。
That speaker is broken. // Those speakers are broken.
Literally: “that + speaker + は + are breaking.”


In Literal Land, that would be saying "Those speakers are breaking." But we are not describing the process of breaking. Rather, we are describing the ongoing state of being broken.

In English, we often describe this type of thing using the verb "to be" along with the past participle of a verb (e.g. "break → broken"; "go → gone"; "stop → stopped", etc.).

For example, we could say:


電車が急に止まった
でんしゃ が きゅうに とまった。
The train stopped suddenly.
Literally: “train + が + suddenly + stopped.”


↑ That's describing the moment the train stopped.
↓ This is describing the ongoing state of being stopped.


電車が止まっている
でんしゃ が とまっている。
The train is stopped.
Literally: “train + が + is stopping.”


Let's look at a slightly more difficult example:


玄関に置いてあった傘が、いつの間にかなくなっている
げんかん に おいてあった かさ が、 いつのまにか なくなっている。
The umbrella that was in the entryway is gone.
Literally: “entryway + に + was placed (=place [and] + there was) + umbrella + が, + before (I) knew it; unknown to (me) + is disappearing.”


If you don't understand this usage of ~てある yet, worry not, my friend. That's going to be the topic of our next N4 lesson.

And if いつの間にかなくなっている is throwing you off, you can see a few examples using this phrase in [NDL #100] - Fluent Before You Know It.


Hang in there. We have lots of examples left to look at:


今、いとこたちがうちに遊びにきています
いま、 いとこ たち が うち に あそび に きています。
Right now, my cousins are at my house. // My cousins have come over to my house to hang out.
Literally: “now, + cousins + が + home + に + are coming to play (=play + に + are coming).”
Note: This usage of 遊ぶ (あそぶ) doesn't translate very well into English. The speaker's cousins may, for example, just be at her house for the day because of a holiday gathering.


↑ The speaker's cousins are not on their way to her house. They are currently at her house. It is an ongoing state.


両親は私が小さい頃に離婚しています
りょうしん は わたし が ちいさい ころ に りこん しています。
My parents have been divorced since I was little. // My parents got divorced when I was little.
Literally: “(both) parents + は + I + が + small + (approximate) time + に + divorce + are doing.”


Obviously the speaker's parents are not getting divorced right now. We're talking about something that happened when the speaker was little.

Accordingly, 離婚しています (りこんしています), "are divorcing," would need to be translated as something like "have been divorced" or "got (and continue to be) divorced" ← ongoing states.


👷 Construction 👷

There's not much to say here. Put a verb into て-form, then add the auxiliary verb いる.

If you're still having trouble with conjugations like this, I would work a bit more on that kind of thing before attempting any N4 grammar.

V てる
V ている
V ています

Look at this lesson for more info: [NDL #524] - Basics: ~ている.


Descriptions of "ongoing states" are slightly unique when we're talking about a person's clothes.

You'll see that ~ている can be used to describe the clothes a person is wearing.

This matches up nicely with English because we say "is wearing," too:


前川先生は、ぶかぶかのセーターを着て、ぴちぴちのジーパンをはいています
まえかわ せんせい は、 ぶかぶか の セーター を きて、 ぴちぴち の ジーパン を はいています。
Maekawa-sensei is wearing a baggy sweater and tight jeans.
Literally: “Maekawa-sensei + は, + baggy / oversized + の + sweater + を + wear (and), + tight + の + jeans + を + is wearing (lower-body clothing).”

The interesting thing that happens with clothes is when there is a NOUN following the verb meaning "to wear." In this case, we can describe the "ongoing state" of wearing something using either V ている or V た, the simple past tense:


A:
あの黄色いマフラーを巻いているが私のお母さんです。
あの きいろい マフラー を まいている ひと が わたし の おかあさん です。
That person wearing the yellow scarf is my mom.
Literally: “that + yellow + muffler / scarf + を + is wearing (=”is winding; is coiling”) + person + が + I + の + mother + です.”


B:
あのマスクをしたですか?
あの マスク を した ひと です か?
That person wearing the mask?
Literally: “that + mask + を + wore (=”did”) + person + です + か?”
Note: Picture the type of mask a doctor or dentist would wear, not a mask that goes with a costume.

There are limits to using the past tense this way, however. You can't use "V たNOUN" when describing an action that is still in progress. You have to use "V ているNOUN" in that case.


So these are the same:
〇 マスクをしている
〇 マスク を している ひと
〇 a person wearing a mask
↓ ↓ ↓
〇 マスクをした
〇 マスク を した ひと
〇 a person wearing a mask


But these have a different meaning:
〇 歌を歌っている
〇 うた を うたっている ひと
〇 a person singing a song
↓ ↓ ↓
▽ 歌を歌った
▽ うた を うたった ひと
▽ a person who sang a song

I'd never really thought about all of this stuff from an analytical perspective until I needed to write this lesson.

So you're probably fine just going with the "get a feel for it naturally" approach. Worked for me, at least. ^_^




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