Japanese 160 - The present continuous and past continuous

The present continuous verb tense (or present progressive) connotes an action that is ongoing/has not been completed. They are eating lunch is an example of a sentence using this verb tense. In Japanese, verbs are conjugated to the present continuous with the pattern て-form + いる.

The present continuous can be negated by negating the いる ending.

The past continuous is formed by simply putting the いる ending in the past tense.

You will find that the present continuous is often used in situations in Japanese where it would not be used in English and vice-versa. One of the most common examples of this is with the verb , which means to know. When making sentences like I know the answer or What do you know about computers?, you normally use the present continuous in Japanese.

Sometimes the present continuous is even used for actions that are already completed. For example, this is the case with the verbs 行く and 来る.


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