3

I'm trying to say I remember his ex-girlfriend's name.

私は彼の元彼女の名前を覚えます。

私は彼の元彼女の名前を覚えています。

As I understand, the last sentence is in present progressive tense, i.e. an action that is ongoing. But I don't think I'm remembering his ex-girlfriend's name makes sense.

So in this case, does the first sentence mean I will remember his ex-girlfriend's name? And does the last sentence mean I remember his ex-girlfriend's name?

  • "I will remember it later" translates to (後で)おぼえておく and "I will still remember" does to (まだ)おぼえている. In short, おぼえる per se doesn't mean to remember. – user4092 Jan 15 '16 at 11:09
5

In Japanese, the て+いる form does not necessarily represent present-progressive (as such a concept doesn't really exist in Japanese in the first place); in many cases, it describes a resultant or enduring state. In this case, the verb is "to remember/learn," so using the て+いる form implies a "state" of having already learned something (and remembering it). The translation of the first sentence would probably be something like "I will learn his ex-girlfriend's name," while the second one could be translated as "I remember his ex-girlfriend's name" (this is what you wanted in this case).

There are definitely cases where て+いる can be translated as present-progressive, but rather than being the specified purpose or meaning of the form, it's more like that just happens to be the realization of that particular verb in that form. For a more in-depth look at what is really happening with this form, I've found this page helpful: http://homepage3.nifty.com/park/aspect.htm

5

覚える means to memorize something, and 覚えている means that someone remembers something.

Your first sentence means I will memorize his ex-girlfriend's name.
If you want to say ''I will memorize and will not forget her name'', you can also say 覚えておく/覚えておきます.

覚えます is also used when you say the feature or the nature of someone (e.g. 彼は人の名前をすぐ覚えます。), however, your first sentence is too limited, so nobody thinks you're speak about your own nature.

Your second, the last sentence is natural as a translation for I remember his ex-girlfriend's name. It's not the progressive tense. ''Verb + ている'' is not necessarily progressive tense, can be resultant state. Some verb are used for both progressive and resultant, others are used for only progressive, the others are used for only resultant.

We think 勉強している is to be studying at a glance, but how is it in a sentence そんな簡単なことは、ずっと前に勉強している? Its 勉強している is not present progressive tense but rather present perfect tence in English.

By the way, people who are living...live in western Japan (more west than Okayama, Tottori, and Shikoku area) distinguish these two verb + ている by using different form like 書きよる (be writing) and 書いとる (have written or be written).

The form of the verb can be different between Japanese and English.
For example, 住んでいる is not to be living but just to live, 着ている is to wear cloths, or to be wearing cloths on in some context.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.