I think ていた/ている is often used in the following context.

A:Bla Bla Bla

Another context

A said something to B before he left, but B didn't hear it.
B: Aさん、何か言った?Cは聞いてた。Aさんはなんて言っていたのかな?
C: ええ、今の聞いていなかったの?

I think てた/てる might refer to a particular period or time, but I wonder if た is possible in the same context.

Will 聞いた and ボーッとした ever be used here?

  • 聞いて(い)た focuses on whether or not the person was "paying enough attention" to what was being said while 聞いた focuses on the fact that he "obtained" the information given. – l'électeur May 3 '14 at 3:43
  • Thank you, Tokyo Nagoya. confirms some of my suspicions. I was thinking about the same thing, but I finally got convinced that the choice might be language dependent. E.g. we prefer simple past for exactly the same reason when speaking Chinese. Then my questions becomes “Will you ever say 聞いた and ボーッとした in this context?” If only more than 80% speakers say “no”, then I think it's a marginally unacceptable expression and asking for the difference might be meaningless. – Yang Muye May 3 '14 at 13:51

聞いてた sounds like "Are you listening?" 聞いた is closer to "Did you hear about that?"

  • Thank you for your answer. So 聞いた can never be used in the same context? It seems that both English and Chinese tend to use "heard". So I wonder if 聞いた sounds natural and can be used here. – Yang Muye Apr 28 '14 at 17:58
  • And how about ボーッとした? – Yang Muye Apr 28 '14 at 18:08
  • @YangMuye what do you mean by English tends to use "heard"? We have both to hear and to listen basically along the lines he's suggesting. "Did you hear the news?" ニュースを聞いた? and are you listening to me? 聞いている. – virmaior Apr 29 '14 at 11:39
  • @YangMuye ていた indicates that an action lasted for a period of time in the past. た merely means that an action occurred in the past. In the dialog, ていた is better because it reflects that B was not paying attention the whole time A was speaking. – abcs Apr 30 '14 at 0:05
  • @virmaior, I'm sorry it looked misleading. I meant to say “didn't hear” is often used in the context I gave (especially in the second one) and I can't think of a good reason not to use it in Japanese. Maybe it just doesn't need any reason. – Yang Muye May 2 '14 at 14:45

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