Japanese Language and Culture

Progressive

Production Rules:

Rule Meaning
Infinitive (Plain Nonpast Indicative) [て-stem] & いる
[te-stem] & iru
to be [doing]

Inflection Examples:

Infinitive (Plain Nonpast Indicative)
食べる
taberu (to eat)
食べている
tabete iru
話す
hanasu (to speak)
話している
hanashite iru
歩く
aruku (to walk)
歩いている
aruite iru
泳ぐ
oyogu (to swim)
泳いでいる
oyoide iru
呼ぶ
yobu (to call)
呼んでいる
yonde iru
飲む
nomu (to drink)
飲んでいる
nonde iru
死ぬ
shinu (to die)
死んでいる
shinde iru
作る
tsukuru (to make)
作っている
tsukutte iru
待つ
matsu (to wait)
待っている
matte iru
洗う
arau (to wash)
洗っている
aratte iru

Irregulars:

Infinitive (Plain Nonpast Indicative)
する
suru
(to do)
している
shite iru
来る
kuru
(to come)
きている
kite iru

Usage Notes & Examples:

  1. Progressive is used similarly to the English progressive "[to be] doing", as in "I am working now". It can also express habitual action in the same way as the English, for instance "I am studying Japanese" would be "Nihongo wo benkyou shite imasu." Just as in English, it can mean being engaged in the activity right now, or being in the middle of a long-term continuing process, depending on the context.
  2. The progressive is also used to express a continuing state for "instantaneous" verbs such as "shiru". An example is the verb "aku" used to describe a store as being open. One says "omise ha aite imasu" rather than *"omise ha akimasu" when one means "the store is open". What this literally means is, the store was closed at one point, at an instant of time it was opened, and it continues to be in that state: "the store is in the state of being open," sort of.
  3. In this state-based usage, depending on the verb and context, the progressive can take on a perfective (completed action) meaning under certain circumstances. For instance "inu ga shinde iru" "the dog has died."

Expressions

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