I apologize if I am beating a dead horse with this question but is this correct?

なっている: have (already) become

as opposed to

なっていた: had become

so often the meaning of なっている can be thought of as "is" while なっていた can be thought of as "was" ?


ある朝目覚めると私は有名になっていた。 One morning I awoke to find myself famous〔イギリスのロマン派三大詩人の一人 George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) の名言。 One morning I awoke to find myself sacked.(気が付いた時には首になっていた)のようにして使われる。〕

いずれこうなっていたと思いますよ。 This would have happened one way or the other.

(does it work for the latter example?)


なんでこんな遅い時間に買い物に行くの」「閉店まぎわにスーパーに行くと割引になっているんだよ」 "Why do you go shopping so late?" "Things are discounted if you go to the supermarket just before closing time."

「ゲーセン」として知られるゲームセンターは、若者の人気のある遊び場所となっている。 The game center known as "Gehsen" is now a recreation spot for young people.

  • Perhaps your question should include all comparisons for なる. I.e. to compare なる with なっている, なった with なっていた, なる with なった and なっている with なっていた.
    – Flaw
    Nov 24, 2011 at 13:11

2 Answers 2


For non-durative verbs1, ~ている can mean the state persists from a point in the past up to present (As opposed to repeated action which it can also mean for some non-durative verbs). For this use ~ていた means the state persisted between two points in the past. Which to use is depending on which type of timeline you are referring to.

"X" on the diagram indicates where(when) you are with respect to the event at the point of making the statement.

When using ~ている:

------------------------------>[State Start]----------------->(Present)X

When using ~ていた:

[State Start]----------------->[State End]---------------->(Present)X

1: Non-durative(Punctual) Verbs are verbs that represent momentary/instantaneous action. When used with the auxiliary verb いる, they represent a continued state after the action was done or the action repeats.


死んでいる ("be dead" as opposed to "die again and again")

跳んでいる ("Jumping repeatedly" as opposed to "Jumped and state persisted")

  • 1
    you say 死んでいる = ("Died") but does not " 彼は死んでいる。" mean "he is dead." (?) doesn't " 彼は死んでいた。" mean "he died." (?)
    – yadokari
    Nov 24, 2011 at 4:20
  • @yadokari You ask a very good question. But I'm not sufficiently prepared to answer it. Perhaps your question could be related to japanese.stackexchange.com/q/3600/542
    – Flaw
    Nov 24, 2011 at 6:02
  • @yadokari Actually I'm having quite a hard time assigning correct English parsing to the Japanese. "He is dead" is stative while "He died" focus on the completion of action.
    – Flaw
    Nov 24, 2011 at 10:35

I believe this to be the case for 死ぬ, though I think there's a lot of overlap in the following states. Note that 死ぬ could be "to die", "dies", "going to die" etc but for the purposes of this question I'll leave those out:

  • 死ぬ -> die/will die
  • 死んだ -> died
  • 死んでいる -> is dead/will be dead (the present or future state of being dead)
  • 死んでいた -> was dead (the past state of being dead)

Therefore, if I understand correctly for なる:

  • なる -> become/will become
  • なった -> became
  • なっている -> has become/will have become
  • なっていた -> had become

Has/will have become:

"Why do you go to buy things at this sort of late hour?" "If you go to the supermarket just before closing time things will have become discounted."

The game center known as "Gehsen" has become a recreation spot for young people.

I think it would have (become):

When something has the pattern of こう/そう~ていたと思う it becomes "I think it would have...this/that way", for example:

I think it would have become this way anyway.

I think that when I was young, scientists would have said this kind of thing.

Had become:

One morning I awoke to find that I had become famous.

  • Isn't "become" or "will become" simply なる ?
    – Flaw
    Nov 24, 2011 at 13:08
  • I originally wrote "will have become" but replaced it with "will become" as I thought it was incorrect, but I'm starting to think that it might have been right in the first place. I'll leave it as "will have become" for now.
    – cypher
    Nov 24, 2011 at 13:30
  • This answer is just based off my observations at Space ALC, I'm not 100% sure that it's correct. I've found if I retranslate a sentence with になっていた it seems "had become" works in a large number of cases. There are some exceptions where it doesn't work, e.g. 弱くなっていた -> "had been becoming weak", どうなっていたか分からない -> "who knows what could have happened" etc.
    – cypher
    Nov 24, 2011 at 23:08
  • ...and 死にかけている is "dying". @cypher could you tell me your lang8 account if u have one? maybe i could study from it.
    – yadokari
    Nov 28, 2011 at 4:07

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