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The いて I'm referring to is in the last line of the lyrics of a song called Don't you see!:

私をつかまえていて

So apparently つかまえて is the て-form of つかまえる. But why is there a いて at the end?

4

いて is the casual imperative of いる (the same as the て-form).

So it's now down to what つかまえている means. The て-form of a verb plus いる can have many different translations (and I'm sure you will find many applicable questions on Stack Enchange). I will attempt to distill it to its most general sense. The て-form plus いる conveys the state that the subject is in after having performed the verb.

The て-form plus いる usually translates to the present progressive or the present perfect in English. The best translation depends on context and the type of verb. You could ask yourself, "What is the subject doing after having initiated the verb?" or "What is the state of the subject after having initiated the verb?"

In the case of some verbs (verbs where the action continues after being initiated like 遊ぶ{あそぶ} play, する do, 寝る{ねる} sleep, 泣く{なく} cry, etc.), the state the subject is in is "still doing the verb". These situations are best translated to the English present progressive or variations having the same meaning (遊んでいる{あそんでいる}is playing, している is doing, 寝ている{ねている} keeps sleeping, 泣いている{ないている} continues to cry, etc.)

In the case of other verbs (verbs where the actions are momentary and result in a new state rather than a continuing state like 帰る{かえる} return home, 着く{つく} arrive at, 死ぬ{しぬ} die, etc.), the subject does not continue the verb but rather is currently in the state of "having done the verb". These cases are usually best translated as the present perfect in English 帰っている{かえっている} have returned home, 着いている{ついている} have arrived at, 死んでいる{しんでいる} have died.

So in your case, ask yourself, "What is the current state after the subject grabs hold of (catches, holds, seizes) the object?" The state is that she is "holding the object (or continuing to hold, keeping hold, etc.).

So making that into a command, you have

Keep holding onto me.

  • Do you mean the reason that it is written as 私をつかまえていて instead of 私をつかまえている is because the author wanted to present an imperative meaning? – Ian Y. May 24 '16 at 17:28
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    @Ian Y. Yes. The proper imperative would have been 私をつかまえていてください but it is acceptable in informal language to drop the ください. – G-Cam May 24 '16 at 18:50
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That いて is the te-form of the subsidiary verb いる, followed by て. This subsidiary verb adds the meaning of "keep ~ing" in this case, since 捕まえる is a verb that describes an action.

And a te-form at the end of a sentence can be a casual request.

So the whole phrase means something like "(please) keep hanging on me" (i.e., "don't let me go").

  • Could you please explain what "followed by て" means? – Ian Y. May 24 '16 at 17:26
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    @IanY. It means the 接続助詞(conjunctive particle)「て」 is attached to the 連用形(continuative form) 「い」 of the 補助動詞(subsidiary verb) 「いる」. – Chocolate May 26 '16 at 10:51
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    @Ian Y. To say something is in the process would be V-て form + いる. So it will be つかまえている。to change the いる into いて might means that there's additional words after it, but get dropped. In this case i assume it's -てください so maybe the whole sentence is 私をつかまえていてください。Which translates as 'Please keep holding me' or figuratively 'don't let go of me' – Alice28 May 26 '16 at 18:37

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