ている (teiru) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Doing Something

Author Anna Baffa Volpe for article 'ている (teiru) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Doing Something'

Anna Baffa Volpe

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ている (teiru) Meaning Japanese Grammar - Doing Something

The form ~ている (- teiru) is translated in various ways depending on its function in the sentence.

Gerund is used to translate the form with the meaning of doing smething: the actions are performed at the moment of speaking and thus describes an action in progress.

This form also describes the state, the condition in which we find ourselves, as result of actions performed in the past.

In this post we learn more about the meaning of ~ている, how it is formed, and when ~ている is used through real example sentences.

How ~ている is formed

ている is composed of:

  • the て form of the verb and
  • the auxiliary いる
て form of the verb+~いる

In informal and colloquial speech, the form てる is often used and the vowel い is obmitted.

Example with the Ichidan Verb ()sleep



The cats sleep for a long time.

Example with the Godan Verb (あそ)play, enjoy oneself



Children are playing outside.

The Godan verbs vary the て form, depending on the final syllable, I recommend reviewing the rule first.

In this case, for example, the verb ends in and its form in て becomes んで + いる.

~ている expressing actions in progress

One of the common usages is with actions taking place at the moment of speaking and that are still in progress.


I am eating lunch.


I'm studying maths with a friend.

~ている expressing a continuous state

Another common and widespread use of ている describes the state one person is in. A past action generated the condition we are currently in.


Ms Yamada is married.

The translation is therefore not She is getting married, but expresses the condition in which the subject is in the current state: She is married.

(けっ)()(じょう)(たい) the resulting state of an action initiated in the past


Electricity is on.


My cell phone is broken.

The form is used with intransitive verbs and many verbs are defined as instantaneous as they do not refer to ongoing actions, they have no duration and the actions take place in an instant.


What is in your bag?

Yet another example:


I am back in Japan now.

The sentence can be divided into 2 parts:

  • 日本(にほん)(かえ)りました: I went back to Japan
  • (げん)(ざい)日本(にほん)にいます: I am currently in Japan

ている and habits

ている also describes actions that we perform in our daily routine, actions that are habitual for us.


I exercise every day.

The form is also used for ()()(しゅう)(かん) past habits.


When I was in my twenties I used to go to the disco a lot.

Examples of ~ている


What channels do you watch on TV?


He is watching an interesting movie.


My brother is playing soccer now.

Comment on a movie on YouTube:

久々に: 'hisabisa ni' adverb meaning 'long time ago'


It's been a long time since I've seen it. It's nostalgic.