(1) 明日、家へ帰って、母が作ったおいしい料理を食べます。

why is it 作った when it’s a future event? If I wanted to create a clause meaning 'delicious food my mother makes', it would be 母が作るおいしい料理. Does changing 作った in (1) to 作る make any sense? Or is it grammatically wrong?

EDIT: I read my own draft question wrongly and transferred it wrongly to stackexchange. I intended to ask this:

And in

(2) 私の家は郊外にあります。町までちょっと遠いですが、電車が走っていますから、便利です。

Why is it 走っています and not 走っていました? (I think I just solved this on my own. 走っていた + から implies 走っていた causes 便利, which clearly isn't the case)

  • Isn't the first sentence equivalent to the English "I will eat the food that my mother made."? The future tense of "will eat" should not affect the fact that mother already made the food in the past. It's the same thing.
    – Lukman
    Jul 30, 2011 at 3:37

2 Answers 2


The first sentence here forms an excellent question, because it highlights the issue of tense in subordinate clauses, which can be counter-intuitive coming from an English background.


The English mind looks at this and thinks about the verb 作る relative to the time when this statement is made. Since we're talking about a future event, it would seem to make sense that the verbs (even in subordinate clauses) should match up and be in future tense. But the Japanese mind thinks about 作る relative to the time when the main action takes place. Since the main action is 食べる, at the point when 食べる takes place, the food will have already been made, so 作った, not 作る, is correct.

For another example, consider the following:



These are both valid sentences, but they mean different things! The first, because 行く is non-past, means you will buy a camera before going to Japan (because at the time とき, the action 行く has not happened yet). But the second, because 行った is past, means you will buy a camera after having arrived in Japan (because at the time とき, the action 行く has happened).

  • Basically, since "て" form can convey any tense, the sentence means "tomorrow, when I (will) go home, I will eat the meal that my mother will HAVE MADE for me". Past in the future, piece of cake.
    – Axioplase
    Jul 30, 2011 at 7:21
  • I might be wrong, but because the verb is 行く, I don't have the same interpretation. For me, the first narrator buys a camera in Japan, and the other one after the trip. That's because when I say "〜に行った", it means that I'm not there anymore. The second sentences reads to me almost as "日本に行った後、デジカメラを買います". What do you think?
    – Axioplase
    Jul 30, 2011 at 7:24
  • @Axioplase: In Japanese, 行く encompasses only the action of going from point A to point B. Therefore it ends once you have arrived at point B, not once you have returned from B back to A. To say that you will do something after you have gone to and returned from Japan, you can use 日本に行ってきたとき or 日本から帰ったとき. Another interesting one is the ~ている form of 行く: 彼は日本に行っている does not mean "he is going (on the way) to Japan", but "he has gone to Japan [and is still there]" (or in other words, "he went to Japan, and the state expressed by that action still continues"). Jul 30, 2011 at 12:13
  • @Derek, well, of course, "行ってきた" sounds way more natural, but still, that's what I understand instead of way you explained. I wonder why I have this bias then…
    – Axioplase
    Jul 31, 2011 at 23:48

Isn't that, "Tomorrow, I return home and eat the delicious food my mother made." ? In English, it's past-tense, too. If she was making the food still, you could use 作る instead.

Also, if you're thinking of it as the food she has historically made, I could see it making sense in both languages, too, but English would definitely lean towards present tense.

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