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I'm trying to wrap my head around how to use 行ってきます in sentences, so if someone could show me a few examples of how to use it I'll be really grateful. So far from what I know, 行ってきます kind of means 'I'm going to do something...' in Japanese. But translated literally, 行ってきます means 'I'll go do something and come back', so I'm a little confused about which contexts we can use this grammar structure and which contexts we cannot.

For example, can I say '映画を見に行ってきた後で、カラオケに行きました'? Would this sentence translate roughly to 'after I went to watch the movie and came home, I went to Karaoke'?

Thanks!

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Yes, the literal translation of -てくる/-てきます is "I'll go do something and come back". This may sound a little weird to an English speaker because they usually don't see the need to say this explicitly. However, this subsidiary verb is something Japanese people use almost every day. Basically, you have to use -てくる whenever you go out for something for a relatively short time:

  • コンビニに行ってきます。
    I'll go to the convenience store (and come back here).
  • 2階の窓を閉めてきます。
    I'll close the windows on the second floor (and come back here).
  • スマホを取ってきます。
    I'll get my smartphone (and come back here).
  • 明日は宿題をやってきます。
    I'll do my homework tomorrow (and come back to school).

The parts in the parentheses are usually not explicitly translated into English. This is one of the things that must be expressed in Japanese but are optional in English. Please read this, too.

Can I say '映画を見に行ってきた後で、カラオケに行きました'?

If you went directly from the theater to karaoke, this sentence is incorrect. When there's no place to return to, -てくる makes no sense. You should simply say 映画を見た後でカラオケに行きました.

If you returned home (or to the office, base, etc.) after watching the movie for some reason, this sentence is technically correct. However, such behavior is not very common, so someone who hears this might find it a little puzzling. If the fact that you returned home between the movie and the karaoke is important, it would be clearer to explicitly say "映画を見てからいったん家に戻って、それからカラオケに行きました".

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  • Thank you so much! This is so helpful!!
    – Ruo Su
    Commented May 11 at 3:35

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