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.”   

Learn JLPT N5 Japanese – Japanese Verb Conjugation “I buy a book”

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:

SubjectLinking Verb-ing Verb
Iam reading

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

Japanese U-Verbs

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
飲むnomudrink
作るtsukurumake
書くkakuwrite

Now, let’s try some Ru-verbs!

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Japanese Ru-Verbs

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
食べるtaberueat
見るmirusee / watch / look 
教えるoshieruteach

Now, the irregular verbs.

Japanese Irregular Verbs

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
するsurudo
来るkurucome

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Conjugating Verbs into the -Japanese Te Form

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

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

U-Verb Conjugation Chart (Japanese Te Form)

-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-verbs from earlier conjugated into their –te forms.

U-Verbs (Japanese Te Form)

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
飲む  ➡️ 飲んでnomu  ➡️  nondedrink
作る  ➡️ 作ってtsukuru  ➡️  tukuttemake
書く  ➡️ 書いてkaku  ➡️  kaitewrite

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

Below are the Ru-verbs from earlier conjugated into their -te forms.

Ru-Verbs (Japanese Te Form)

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
食べる  ➡️ 食べてtaberu  ➡️  tabeteeat
見る  ➡️ 見てmiru  ➡️  mitesee / watch / look
教える  ➡️ 教えてoshieru  ➡️  oshieteteach

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

Irregular Verbs (Japanese Te Form)

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
する  ➡️ してsuru  ➡️  shitedo
来る  ➡️ 来てkuru  ➡️  kitecome

Creating the Present Progressive Tense

Now that we have successfully conjugated our verbs into the -te form, we’re ready for the final step: simply add いる (iru) to the end!

U-Verbs (Present ProgressiveForm)

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
飲んで  ➡️ 飲んでいるnonde  ➡️  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 ProgressiveForm)

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
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oshiete  ➡️  oshiete iruteach  ➡️ is/am/are teaching

Irregular Verbs (Present ProgressiveForm)

JapaneseRomajiEnglish
して  ➡️ しているshite  ➡️  shite irudo  ➡️ is/am/are doing
来て  ➡️ 来ているkite  ➡️  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, iru becomes imasu.)

Examples:

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), iru becomes inai and imasu becomes imasen.

Examples:

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 verbs tsukuru (make) and miru (watch). When we want to say what we are making and what we are watching, we add a を (wo) 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.

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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 anata 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 verb into the –te iru form expresses the present progressive tense. The negative state of -te iru is -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 practice! The only way to master your language skills is to get out there and practice, practice, practice!  

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