Japanese Verbs on Progress Action,
Habitual Action and Occupation -
Free Japanese Lessons: 22

In this lesson you will get to learn an important topic in Japanese verbs, which is て-form + います (te-form + imasu).

て-form + います (te-form + imasu) is widely used in many Japanese sentences.

And because it has many functions many people get confused on its applications.

Most of the time you have to read from the actual sentence to understand the context and what does it means.

I will introduce 3 of them in this lesson:

  1. Progress Action or Motion (~ing)
  2. Habitual Action
  3. One's Occupation

1. Progress Action or Motion (~ing)

You have already learned that past tense in Japanese verbs is used for events in the past which has already finished. For example...

  • わたしはゆうべテレビをみました。
    watashi wa yuube terebi wo mimashita

    Meaning: I watched TV last night.

The above sentence means the speaker has already finished watching TV, which occurred on last night. Now let's look at this sentence in present tense...

  • わたしはこんばんテレビをみます。
    watashi wa konban terebi wo mimasu

    Meaning: I am going to watch TV tonight.

From the above sentence, you can see that present tense is also used for future event in Japanese, as there is no future tense in Japanese verbs.

So how do you going to describe the action that you are doing now? Yes, I think you should have known by now. Use て-form + います (te-form + imasu).

  • わたしはいまテレビをみています。
    watashi wa ima terebi wo mite imasu

    Meaning: I am watching TV now.

In the above example, the speaker has started to watch TV in the past, is watching now, and is continuing to watch to the future.

It's like adding the "ing" to the verb. The speaker is in the middle of the action of watching TV, as shown in the following diagram.

Japanese Verbs: Progress Action

Let's make some sentences using te-form + imasu to show the action in progress in Japanese verbs...

  • Question: いまなにをしていますか。
    ima nani wo shite imasu ka

    Meaning: What are you doing now?
  • Answer: いまいぬとさんぽしています。
    ima inu to sanpo shite imasu

    Meaning: I am strolling with my dog now.
  • Answer: いまほんをよんでいます。
    ima hon wo yonde imasu

    Meaning: I am reading a book now.
  • Answer: いまえをかいています。
    ima e wo kaite imasu

    Meaning: I am drawing a picture now.

2. Habitual Action in Japanese Verbs

Habitual action is used to describe the same action which is repeatedly performed over a period of time. And the action is still continuing.

The Japanese verb sentences which associated with habitual action always include words like まいあさ (maiasa - every morning), まいばん (maiban - every night), まいにち (mainichi - everyday), いつも (itsumo - always), etc. For example,

  • わたしは まいにち にほんごをべんきょうしています。
    watashi wa mainichi nihongo wo benkyoushite imasu

    Meaning: I am studying Japanese every day.

The presence of the words まいにち (mainichi - everyday) indicates this is a habitual action. However if you are saying the following instead...

  • わたしは いま にほんごをべんきょうしています。
    watashi wa ima nihongo wo benkyoushite imasu

    Meaning: I am studying Japanese now.

The word いま (ima) indicates this is a action in progress, not habitual action.

3. One's Occupation

One of the functions of te-form + imasu is to describe one's occupation. You can use any of the following when you want to talk about somebody's occupation...

Profession を しています - (I am Profession)

Place で はたらいています - (work at/in)

Place(Company's name) に つとめています - (work for)

In "Profession を しています", you can replace "Profession" with the type of occupation you want to talk about.

You use this Japanese verb sentence structure to describe somebody is working as some profession. For example...

  • たなかさんはいしゃをしています。
    tanaka san wa isha wo shite imasu

    Meaning: Mr Tanaka is working as a doctor.
  • やまださんはせんせいをしています。
    yamada san wa sensei wo shite imasu

    Meaning: Mr Yamada is working as a teacher.
  • きむらさんはけいさつかんをしています。
    kimura san wa keisatsukan wo shite imasu

    Meaning: Mr Kimura is working as a Policeman.

In "Place で はたらいています", you are talking about the place where somebody is working. The "Place" here can be the country, the work place or the actual company name. Take note that the particle here is で (de).

  • たなかさんはびょういん  はたらいています。
    tanaka san wa byouin de hataraite imasu

    Meaning: Mr Tanaka is working at the hospital.
  • やまださんは ABC がっこう はたらいています。
    yamada san wa ABC gakkou de hataraite imasu

    Meaning: Mr Yamada is working at ABC school.
  • きむらさんはアメリカ はたらいています。
    kimura san wa amerika de hataraite imasu

    Meaning: Mr Kimura is working in America.

In "Place(Company's name) に つとめています", you are giving the actual company's name where somebody is working for. In this case, the particle used here is に (ni).

  • たなかさんは XYZ びょういん  つとめています。
    tanaka san wa XYZ byouin ni tsutomete imasu

    Meaning: Mr Tanaka is working for XYZ hospital.
  • いとうさんは Citibank つとめています。
    itou san wa Citibank ni tsutomete imasu

    Meaning: Ms Itou is working for Citibank.
  • さとうさんは Toyota つとめています。
    satou san wa Toyota ni tsutomete imasu

    Meaning: Mr Satou is working for Toyota.

In summary, these are the 3 basic functions for て-form + います (te-form + imasu) in Japanese verbs.

There are 2 Japanese verbs, いる (iru) and ある (aru), which cannot have te-form + imasu. Therefore there is no いています (ite imasu) and あっています (atte imasu).

Related Pages

Lesson 18: Verbs.

Lesson 19: Verbs Part 2 - Change dictionary-form to masu-form and nai-form.

Lesson 20: Verbs on give and receive.

Lesson 21: Verbs te-form.

Lesson 23: Verbs of Motion & How to Make Request in Japanese.

Lesson 29: Verbs on State Continuation.

Lesson 30: Verbs - Transitive and Intransitive verbs.

Lesson 31: Verbs on State Continuation Transitive/Intransitive.

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