Expressing the Present Progressive Tense & Resultant States Using the -Japanese Te Form :What are you doing right now? Why, reading this article of course! Today, we’re going to learn how to express what is happening right now by using the ~ている (-te iru) form in Japanese. We’re also going to explore one more usage of the -te iru form called “resultant state.”   

배우다 JLPT N5 일본어 – 일본어 동사 활용 “I buy a book”
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Whatchu Doin’?: Expressing the Present Progressive Tense & Resultant States Using the -Japanese Te Form

To express what is happening right now, we use what is called the present progressive tense. In English, it looks like this:

I am reading.

The sentence formula looks like this:

제목Linking Verb-ing Verb
나는am 독서

First, let’s review a few common Japanese 동사 to get us started. We’ll begin with the U-동사.

Japanese U-Verbs

일본어로마자영어
음료 む노무음주
作 る쓰 쿠루make
쓰다카쿠쓰다

Now, let’s try some Ru-동사!

Japanese Ru-Verbs

일본어로마자영어
食べ る타 베루먹다
見 る미루see / watch / look 
教 え る오시에 루teach

Now, the irregular 동사.

Japanese Irregular Verbs

일본어로마자영어
하는서두해야 할 것
오는쿠루왔다
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Conjugating Verbs into the -Japanese 형태

Now that we’ve familiarized ourselves with some common 동사, let’s make the first step in creating the present possessive tense. We will conjugate the above 동사 into the –형태.

With U-동사, conjugating into the -테 form is a bit tricky. You first start by lopping the last 히라가나 character off the end. You then replace it with the characters according to the chart below. (Note: These are only for U-동사!)

U-Verb 활용 Chart (일본어 형태)

-う、 -つ、 -る-u,  -tsu,  -ru -って-tte
-む、 -ぶ、 -ぬ、-mu,  -bu, -nu-んで-nde
-く-ku-いて-ite
-ぐ-gu-いで-ide
-す-su-して-shite

Here are the U-동사 from earlier conjugated into their –형태.

U-Verbs (일본어 형태)

일본어로마자영어
飲む  ➡️ 飲んで노무  ➡️  논데음주
作る  ➡️ 作って쓰 쿠루  ➡️  tukuttemake
書く  ➡️ 書いて카쿠  ➡️  kaite쓰다

With Ru-동사, it’s easy! There’s no chart to learn from, you just remove the last 히라가나 character and replace it with -て (-테)! 

Below are the Ru-동사 from earlier conjugated into their -테 형태.

Ru-Verbs (일본어 형태)

일본어로마자영어
食べる  ➡️ 食べて타 베루  ➡️  tabete먹다
見る  ➡️ 見て미루  ➡️  mitesee / watch / look
教える  ➡️ 教えて오시에 루  ➡️  오시에 테teach

And, finally, the irregular 동사 are conjugated like this!

Irregular Verbs (일본어 형태)

일본어로마자영어
する  ➡️ して서두  ➡️  해야 할 것
来る  ➡️ 来て쿠루  ➡️  왔다

Creating the Present Progressive Tense

Now that we have successfully conjugated our 동사-테 form, we’re ready for the final step: simply add いる (이 루) to the end!

U-Verbs (Present Progressive형태)

일본어로마자영어
飲んで  ➡️ 飲んでいる논데  ➡️  nonde irudrink  ➡️ is/am/are drinking
作って  ➡️ 作っているtsukutte  ➡️  tukutte irumake  ➡️ is/am/are making
書いて  ➡️ 書いているkaite  ➡️  kaite iruwrite  ➡️ is/am/are writing

Ru-Verbs (Present Progressive형태)

일본어로마자영어
食べて  ➡️ 食べているtabete  ➡️  tabete irueat  ➡️ is/am/are eating
見て  ➡️ 見ているmite  ➡️  mite irusee / watch / look  ➡️ is/am/are seeing / watching /  looking
教えて  ➡️ 教えている오시에 테  ➡️  oshiete iruteach  ➡️ is/am/are teaching

Irregular Verbs (Present Progressive형태)

일본어로마자영어
して  ➡️ している똥  ➡️  shite irudo  ➡️ is/am/are doing
来て  ➡️ 来ている연  ➡️  kite irucome  ➡️ is/am/are coming

Now, let’s create some sample sentences to express what is happening right now using the present progessive tense! (Note: In formal speech, 이 루 된다 이마스.)

예 :

私は飲んでいる。
Watashi wa nonde iru.
I am drinking.
彼女は食べています。
Kanojo wa tabete imasu.
She is eating.

If you want to express what is NOT happening right now (the negative state), 이 루 된다 이나이이마스 된다 이민.

예 :

学生は書いていない。
Gakusei wa kaite inai.
The student isn’t writing.
先生は教えていません。
Sensei wa oshiete imasen.
The teacher isn’t teaching.

In the next two examples, we use the 동사 쓰 쿠루 (make) and 미루 (watch). When we want to say we are making and we are watching, we add a を (우와) after the direct object. 

彼はケーキを作っている。
Kare wa keeki wo tsukutte iru.
He is making a cake.
私達は映画を見ています。
Watashi-tachi wa eiga wo mite imasu.
We are watching a movie.

Resultant States

In Japanese, there is a concept called a “resultant state.” This means that a previous action was performed, completed, and the result of that action hasn’t changed. The resultant state is also expressed using the -te imasu form, which may cause some confusion for new learners. They may interpret a -te imasu sentence to mean an event or action that is happening right now (as we learned above). Let’s look at some common examples to show you what we mean.

There are clear skies now (The skies cleared up before, and they are still clear now). [NOT: The skies are clearing up now.]

私は覚えている。
Watashi wa oboete iru.
I remember (I remembered something before, and I still remember it now). [NOT: I am remembering.]
私は知っている。
Watashi wa shitte iru.
I know (I learned something before, and I still know it now). [NOT: I am knowing.]
コンサートは終わっています。
Konsaato wa owatte imasu.
The concert is over (They finished the concert before, and it’s still over). [NOT: The concert is finishing.]
今晴れています。
Ima harete imasu.
There are clear skies now (The skies cleared up before, and they are still clear now). [NOT: The skies are clearing up now.]
私達は結婚しています。
Watashi-tachi wa kekkon shite imasu.
We are married (We got married before, and we are still married to this day). [NOT: We are getting married right now.]
A: 今夜あなたはどこに行きますか?
B: 私はもう帰っています。
A: Konya 아나타 wa doko ni ikimasu ka?
B: Watashi wa mou kaette imasu.
A: Where are you going tonight?
B: I’m home already (I went home earlier, and I’m still home right now). [NOT: I’m already going home.]

There are many instances where the –te iru form takes on the resultant state. It may take some time getting comfortable with this, but if you stick with it, we guarantee you’ll get the hang of it. 

In summary

In summary, conjugating the 동사 into the –te iru form expresses the present progressive tense. The negative state of -te iru ~이다. -te inai. Be careful, though. Sometimes the -te iru form doesn’t express what is happening right now, but, rather, expresses that something has happened before and the resultant state hasn’t changed.

Now that you’ve learned how to use the present progressive and resultant state, it’s time to get out there and 연습! The only way to master your language skills is to get out there and 연습, 연습, 연습!  

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