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I found this example sentence in grammar book:

門の前に車が止まっています。 A car is parked in front of the gate.

I was told that instead of 止まる, 停まる would be a more accurate fit for "parked". Does that mean the original would mean- "A car is stopped in front of the gate."?

Furthermore, I was told that the correct way to translate the original English sentence would be

門の前に車が停まっています。

Looking at that, I wondered the right way to say: "A car is being parked in front of the gate."

These are the responses I got from Japanese natives. Please tell me if all of them are correct translations or which one is the most accurate.

A car is being parked in front of the gate.

門の前に車が停まろうとしています。

門の前に車が止まろうとしています。

門の前に車が停められつつあります。 (*written language)

門の前に車が止められつつあります。 (*written language)

門の前に車が駐車しようとしています。

門の前に車が今ちょっと停まっています。

門の前に車が停められようとしています。

I guess I am confused because it is my understanding that -ろうとしています can mean "trying to -" as well is "verb-ing". If 門の前に車が停められつつあります is the most accurate way to translate the sentence, what would be the most common, colloquial way?

Bonus question- are any of these examples of げんざいしんこうけい 【現在進行形】?

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2 Answers

Here is a partial answer.

停めようとしています does not only mean trying to park, but also being about to park, i.e. the parking process is still on-going (e.g. the car is backing up into the parking slot).

停まっています means the car is parked (and not moving).

駐車する is a slightly more formal way of saying 停まる.

As for 停まる vs. 止まる, the first is more of a holding, stopping (like a train stopping), whereas 止まる means physical non-motion. Depending on the context, both have their place.

Parking lots often use 停まる, because for the parking lot, a customer is stopping his car there, before he moves on. An external observer, like in your example sentence, just notices that a car is parked (i.e. not moving) in front of the gate, in which case 止まる is the better choice.

Stop me if I am getting to pedantic, but since the car is parked in front of a gate, it is most unlikely that it is parked in a parking lot (after all a gate is for going through, not for parking in front of it). Thus 停まる is almost certainly the wrong choice, because 停まる implies stopping at an intended spot for stopping (again, like the bus is expected to stop (停まる) at a bus stop).

Bonus question: The terminology 現在進行形 is used for the present progressive tense, which does not exist as a tense in Japanese and thus does not apply to Japanese (although the Japanese equivalent would be っている). So the sentence "A car is being parked in front of the gate" is the only example of the 現在進行形. See the Japanese Wikipedia article http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/進行形 for the progressive tense (進行形). (No direct link: SE seems to dislike Unicode URLs...)

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Does that mean the original would mean- "A car is stopped in front of the gate."?

No, if you were told that, the person that told you that is wrong. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will see a little triangle ▽停まる besides the 停 form. This means that the 停まる form is 常用外. Here is a little snapshot from my windows ime showing this:

enter image description here

Note the *常用外.

However, many people mix this up because 停 is used in words like 停止, バス停, etc. This means your first example 止まる is perfectly fine and there is no difference in meaning. Given the above, I would say 門の前に車が止まろうとしています。is most appropriate for your translation.

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Nice, I didn't know 停まる was 常用外. Probably better this way, since there are too many とまるs floating about already... –  Earthliŋ Aug 23 '12 at 3:35
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