2

What's the difference between

きのう、いちじかんほんをよみました。

and

きのう、いちじかんほんをよんでいました。

?

What would be the equivalent English translations for the two sentences?

1

With action verbs like 読む{よむ} the -ている form becomes -ing in English.

昨日{きのう}、一{いち}時間{じかん}本{ほん}を読み{よみ}ました。
I read a book for one hour yesterday.
昨日{きのう}、一{いち}時間{じかん}本{ほん}を読{よ}んでいました。
I was reading a book for one hour yesterday.

  • Is it just me or would 一時間本を読みました sound a little odd? I feel like if you specify a period of time that you should probably use ~ていた instead of ~た. – sazarando Jun 15 '16 at 9:23
  • 1
    @sazarando Both sentences sound just fine to me. – naruto Jun 15 '16 at 11:45
  • @sazarando If you focus a point in time, past progressive form is appropriate like あなたが電話をくれたとき、私はお風呂に入っていました( I was taking a bath when you called me.). If not, I think both are used as same meaning. – Yuuichi Tam Jun 15 '16 at 13:02
  • (Excuse me if this is a dumb question but) what's the difference of "read a book for one hour yesterday" and "was reading a book for one hour yesterday"? – Chocolate Jun 17 '16 at 9:13
  • @chocolate Excellent question. Without any further context both sound identical to me. If I think harder, maybe "was reading a book" sounds more like you are re-living the moment, whereas "read a book" is just a plain, boring statement of fact. How do you think they differ in Japanese? – user3856370 Jun 17 '16 at 16:05

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.