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て- Form VERB + いる as “has VERB-ed” (Resultant State)

て- Form VERB + いる as “has VERB-ed” (Resultant State)

Here is where the Japanese language becomes a bit precarious for non-native speakers, showing itself to be a language of aspect more so than a language of tense. While the grammatical construct て Form VERB + いる can be used as “is VERB-ing” (as aforementioned), it can also be used as “has VERB-ed”, making it into somewhat of a contradictory construct, in regard to tense. The emphasis in this form is on a change in state of being as a result of something occurring.

Example(s):

その店 は開きました。
Sono mise wa hirakimashita.
(That store opened.)

その店 は開いています
Sono mise wa hiraite imasu.
“That store is open.” / “That store has opened (and is remains open).”

彼がアメリカから来ています。
Kare ga America kara kite imasu.
“He has come from America (and is currently still here).”

*Notice how this should not be confused with, “He is currently on his way coming here from America.” The implication is that he has already arrived and is more so in the process of visiting, not coming.

ジョージ·ワシントンを知っていますか?
George Washington wo shitte imasuka?
(Do you know George Washington?/Have you gotten to know George Washington?)

*Similarly, notice here that this sentence should not be interpreted as “Are you in the process of knowing George Washington?” But rather, “Do you know George Washington?” implies that you have already completed the process of knowing, or more grammatically correct, getting to know George Washington. The phrase知っている is highly common in conversational Japanese and it being a fine example of this grammatical construct should serve as a proper reminder of how て Form VERB + いる can mean both “is VERB-ing” and “has VERB-ed”.

*Similar to 知っている, there are many verbs that when conjugated in the て Form + いる are implicitly interpreted to mean the “has VERB-ed” form of て Form VERB + いる as opposed to the “is VERB-ing” form. Some examples are 消えている, which means “has disappeared/vanished/gone out”, and 終わっている, which means “has finished/ended”. In a sense, this makes it easier to distinguish between the two forms by having certain verbs that can mean only one of the two forms, but as a result, it is the accountability of the learning speakers to encounter these cases and keep them in mind.