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私たちはしばらく肉を食べていない。

We have eaten no meat for several days.

I don't get how you get the meaning of "have not eaten for several days" from "しばらく肉を食べていない." I can only see it being "we will not eat meat for several days." If it means "have not eaten for several days" why isn't it しばらく肉を食べていなかった? しばらく with ていない makes sense in past and future tense, but I don't get how it works with the present tense.

  • 3
    Side note: It's better to use "for a while" as a translation for しばらく, because しばらく can range from several minutes to several weeks, or sometimes even years. – mirka Sep 20 '15 at 11:00
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    I don't really understand what makes you render 〜ていない as future tense. – macraf Sep 20 '15 at 11:47
  • ている can be used to refer to the future, like in 放送局の前で待っているよ (I will wait for you in front of the radio station). classic.jisho.org/… – Joe Sep 20 '15 at 19:10
  • @Joe that strikes me as a bad translation. The tanaka corpus which jisho.org uses is littered with errors. – virmaior Sep 3 '16 at 4:26
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しばらく means "for a while" and the form 〜ている is used for progressive tense (as explained here for example) which corresponds either to present perfect or present continuous in English. In this context it is present perfect and both sentences (Japanese and English) match.

〜ている / 〜ていない are not used for future tense.

why isn't it しばらく肉を食べていなかった?

Because that's past (progressive) tense and English "have not eaten for a while" is present tense. Of course it is perfectly correct, but means "had not eaten meat for a while (when something happened)" or "had not been eating meat for a while".

  • Exactly. The adverb. +1. – Kentaro Sep 20 '15 at 11:52
  • I still don't see how it works. How can しばらく modify ている when it is used to refer to the present and as a state? しばらく in these contexts take the past into account, so I don't see why it would use present tense. In English, "for a while" would modify "eaten," but in Japanese, しばらく modifies ている. Under this logic, a sentence like しばらくここにいる would mean "I have been here for a while." – Joe Sep 20 '15 at 19:20
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    An adverb/adverbial phrase ("for a while", しばらく) does not modify an auxiliary verb ("have", いる) neither in English nor in Japanese. – macraf Sep 20 '15 at 20:20
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私たちは しばらく肉を食べていない。

We have eaten no meat for several days. (or for a while) --- could be 20 years. w w w

This could have all of the 3 elements.

  1. present perfect 

  2. general condition, habit 

  3. (past perfect?) or [ past Experience ]


For 「昨日 寝てない」 there are a few different possible interpretations.

  1. present perfect   「昨日から 寝てない」

  2. general condition, habit   「最近 よく寝てない」

  3. (past perfect?) or Experience

    3a.  Preparation, e.g. for a test.   ---------------   See: Meaning of 寝てない

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