THE “…TE IMASU” SENTENCE (1)
CONTENTS 1. In short: The first three meanings of the “…te imasu” sentence you learn (1) An ongoing action or phenomenon (2) A state of a thing or a person, and (3) A habitual action 2. A bit more: Two kinds of verbs deciding the meanings of the “…te imasu” sentence (1) The Verbs Expressing Lasting Actions (2) The Verbs Expressing Actions for Change (3) The classification of verbs 3. Bonus: The two more popular meanings of the “…te imasu” sentence (=> The “…te imasu” Sentence (2)) (1) A present state with a Verb of Going in One Direction (2) A past action/event in special circumstances 4. Summary (=> The “…te imasu” Sentence (2))
1. In short: The first three meanings of the “…te imasu” sentence you learn
Usually, the following three are the first meanings you learn of the “…te imasu”:
1. An ongoing action or phenomenon,
2. A state of a thing or a person, and
3. A habitual action of a person.
Can you tell which of the above meanings the following sentences have, one by one?
A. 雨が降っています。Ame ga hutte imasu. (It is raining.)
B. いまお茶を飲んでいます。Ima o-cha o nonde imasu. (I am drinking some tea now.)
C. いまたまごを食べています。Ima tamago o tabete imasu. (I am eating an egg now.)
D. 結婚しています。Kekkon-shite imasu. (I am married.)
E. めがねをかけています。Megane o kakete imasu. (I am wearing glasses.)
F. 時計がこわれています。tokee ga kowarete imasu. (The clock is bronken.)
G. 毎朝たまごを食べています。Maiasa tamago o tabete imasu. (Every morning I eat an egg.)
H. 時々友だちのブログをチェックしています。Tokidoki tomodachi no burogu o chekku shite imasu. (Sometimes I check my friend’s blog.)
A. an ongoing phenomenon
B. an ongoing action
C. an ongoing action
D. a state (of a person)
E. a state (of a person)
F. a state (of a thing)
G. a habitual action
H. a habitual action
Note that Examples C and G are the same except for “now” and “every morning”. The only things to tell us whether a “…te imasu” sentence shows an ongoing action/phenomenon or a habitual action are the adverbials and the context.
2. A bit more: The two kinds of verbs deciding the meanings of the “…te imasu” sentence
Please take a look back at the A-H sentences. Can you tell a difference in the characters of the verbs used in the sentences for “an ongoing action/phenomenon” or “a habitual action”, and the verbs used in the sentences for “a present state”?
(1) The Verbs Expressing Lasting Actions
First, here are the verbs used in the examples sentences for ongoing actions/phenomena and habitual actions:
A. 降ります hurimasu (to rain)
B. 飲みます nomimasu (to drink)
F. 食べます tabemasu (to eat)
G. チェックします chekku-shimasu (to check or see a possible update on a website or a blog on the Internet)
All these verbs describe an activity which lasts for a duration of time. It can be for three minutes, three days, or longer. We will call these Verbs Expressing Lasting Actions.
To put it in another way, if you use a Verb Expressing Lasting Action in a “…te imasu” sentence, it indicates an ongoing action/phenomenon or a habitual action, depending on the context.
(2) The Verbs Expressing Actions for Change
On the other hand, the verbs used in example sentences meaning “a state” are:
D. 結婚します kekkon-shimasu (to get married)
E. かけます kakemasu (to put [glasses] on)
F. こわれます kowaremasu (to get broken)
These verbs describe an activity which happens in an instant, as opposed to “for a duration of time”. Inevitably, it means, the action causes a change in the status of someone, something or the situation after it. The change could be from being single to married, from being without glasses to corrected vision, and from being intact and whole to broken or malfunctioning, and so on. We will call these Verbs Expressing Actions for Change.
If we use one of the Verbs of Actions for Change in the “…te imasu” sentence, it shows a present state. The reason is as follows: The “-te imasu” sentence with one of these verbs indicates the result of the change caused by it has continued until the present.
For example, “Tokei ga kowarete imasu.” means the clock got broken sometime in the past and the broken state has continued until now. As a result, if you focus on the present, “it is broken”.
It’s not that Japanese always go through this tedious thought process when they say this kind of expression. “Kowarete imasu” is just “broken”. But behind it is this idea and the feeling, so we thought it would be nice to share them with you.
(3) The Classification of Verbs
Not all verbs are classified cleanly into either of the two groups mentioned above. We will discuss this verb classification in [Link Coming Soon => The Verb Aspect].
[Continued to => The “…te imasu” Sentence (2)]
=> [Next Post] The “…te imasu” Sentence (2)
=> Pronunciation Tips for Popular Expressions with “te Form”
=> [Link Coming Soon] The Verb Aspect