2

This question is in response to an answer given here

言っていた Conjugation

It is my understanding that ~ている in general is used to show that the state reached after the verb has been initiated is continuing. This manifests itself in English as the present progressive or the present perfect.

帰っている ⇒ I returned and am currently in the state of having returned.

歩いている ⇒ I started to walk and am currently in the state of walking.

Logically extending this understanding to ~ていた, I come up with it meaning that an action occurred in the past, it continued for a period, and then the state ended.

帰っていた ⇒ I returned, was in the state of having returned for a bit, and now I am no longer in that state.

歩いていた ⇒ I started to walk, continued for a bit, and then stopped.

Based on this understanding, I would have assumed that 死んでいた does not make sense as it would imply that the dead person is no longer in the state of being dead. However, the linked post includes 死んでいた (translated as "He was dead") as an example suggesting that it is perfectly acceptable. In English, stating "He was dead" really only makes sense if the discussion taking place is about the past. Therefore I reason as follows.

Consider the following

人A: 鈴木さんを知っていますか。
人B: 知っていました。

vs.

人A: 鈴木さんを知っていましたか。
人B: 知っていました。

vs.

人A: 鈴木さんを知っていましたか。
人B: 知っています。

Are these conclusions correct. If not, would you please be kind enough to explain my errors?

  1. This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past but is currently not acquainted with him.

  2. This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past and does not make any implication about the current state of his acquaintance.

  3. This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past and is still currently acquainted with him.

  • May I ask where your "consider the following" examples came from? – BDawg Sep 21 '16 at 18:00
  • @BDawg I made them up so they could easily be ungrammatical. – G-Cam Sep 21 '16 at 20:06
  • @G-Cam Okay, just making sure. I have an answer almost ready for this question, but I want to verify some of it first. – BDawg Sep 22 '16 at 14:40
4

When asked ~さんを知っていますか, you'd reply 知っています, not 知っていました.

A: 鈴木さんを知っていますか。
B: 知っています。/ 知りません。


When asked ~さんを知っていましたか, you'd normally reply 知っていました.

A: 鈴木さんを知っていましたか。
B: 知っていました。/ 知りませんでした。*

~さんを知っていましたか is usually said in the sense of ~さんを[以前]{いぜん}から/[前]{まえ}から知っていましたか. You'd ask this when your interlocutor knows that person already. For example, if an actor has become famous recently and everybody knows him now, then you might ask ~さんを知っていましたか? "Did you know him (before he became famous)?" Or, you and your friend met 鈴木さん, and later that day you might ask your friend 鈴木さんを知ってたの?"Did you know Suzuki-san (before we met him today)?" So I'd say the 知っていました(か) means #3 "This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past and is still currently acquainted with him."

You'd also ask 知っていましたか or more casually 知ってた? "(It was new to me but) Did you know that?" when you've just heard something new to you and wonder if others already knew it. (Compare: 知ってる? "You know what?") For example, if you were talking with your colleagues and one confessed 「俺、去年離婚したんだ。」 and left the room, then another colleague would ask you 「知ってた!?」(← This actually happened to me... my colleague said it in Kansai-ben 「俺、去年離婚してん。」 though.)

*知りませんでした (for the first person) means "I didn't know (but I know now)." When used for the third person it could have a different meaning.


A: 鈴木さんを知っていましたか。
B: 知っています。

You might also reply this way to mean 以前から知っています "I have known him for a while." For example, some incident occurred in your town and your neighbor 鈴木さん was involved in it, then you might ask your other neighbor 鈴木さんを知ってましたか "Did you know Suzuki-san (before the incident)?" and get a reply ああ、(以前から)(よく)知ってますよ.


The phrase 結婚していた "~~ was married" can be used to mean まだ結婚していた "~~ was still married (at some point in the past but is not married now)" or もう/すでに結婚していた "~~ was already married (at some point in the past and is married now)" or "~~ had already been married before some point in the past (and may or may not be married now)".

死んでいた "~~ was dead" can just mean (その時)死んでいた "~~ was dead (at some point in the past)", as in 私が調べたときには、確かに死んでいました。"When I checked the body, the person/animal etc. was surely dead". It can also mean すでに/もう死んでいた "~~ was already dead (at some point in the past and is dead now)" or "~~ had already died (before some point in the past)".

1

~ている in general is used to show that the state reached after the verb has been initiated is continuing

The (te-form) + いる structure always refers to state at a point in time. The structure doesn't say anything about continuing or not continuing. The verb, however, may describe an action that results in some particular state. For these verbs, the final state is always used as the meaning for the present tense of (te-form) + いる.

For 帰っている, the end state involves being at the destination to which we were returning. Another simple example could be 入っている, which describes the state of being within.

This wikipedia entry claims that it depends "on the transitivity of the verb". Intransitive verbs seem to be the most natural fit, but an intransitive verb isn't always resultative. For example, both 行く and 向かう are intransitive verbs, but 向かう doesn't have a resultative state.

By choosing a similar word/phrasing that is lacking a resultative state (or just using a different structure), we can better convey a progressive meaning. So, to demonstrate, here are a few different ways to work around the resultative meaning of 「彼は学校に行っている」 - "He is at school"

  • 彼は学校に行くところ - He is (in the middle of) going to school
  • 彼は学校に行く途中 - He is on the way to school
  • 彼は学校に向かっている - He is going (lit. heading towards) school

(some of these borrowed from here)

Now, on to your other examples...(Note: This part is from my own intuition as a non-native speaker. I encourage any confirmation and/or corrections)

人A: 鈴木さんを知っていますか。

人B: 知っていました。

"This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past but is currently not acquainted with him."

I would think Person B is saying she knew Suzuki and the rest is implied because of the context. That is, Person B seems to have intentionally changed tenses to avoid saying that they currently know Suzuki. If only Person B knows that Suzuki is dead/no longer around, this also makes sense.

人A: 鈴木さんを知っていましたか。

人B: 知っていました。

"This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past and does not make any implication about the current state of his acquaintance."

Person A is specifically asking if Person B knew her in the past (when is unclear). Person B confirms this (and doesn't say anything specific about the current state). Of course, if they both met up with Suzuki and Person A initiated this conversation right after Suzuki left, it wouldn't make any sense if Person B didn't know her anymore.

人A: 鈴木さんを知っていましたか。

人B: 知っています。

"This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past and is still currently acquainted with him."

Person A is again specifically asking if Person B knew her in the past. Person B replies with "I know her". Depending on the context of the conversation, this could be an unnatural answer. I would imagine it would be okay if we again assume that they both met up with Suzuki and Person A initiated this conversation right after Suzuki left. Or, Person B could know that Suzuki is still around/alive, while Person A does not.

  • 2
    The explanation in the wiki page is wrong. Both 食べている and 入れている can be interpreted either resultative or progressive. Transitivity doesn't matter in this regard. – user4092 Sep 23 '16 at 6:13
  • @user4092 Thanks, I was assuming this to be the case but couldn't confirm that the transitive verbs were actually used in this way. This helps – BDawg Sep 23 '16 at 17:05
0

http://www.geocities.jp/niwasaburoo/24asupekuto.html この虫は死んでいます。

This insect is dead. ... is already dead. ... has died. ... had died.

So 死んでいた must be further back in time.

was dead, was already dead, had died, had recently/already died,

but it's possible that there is a complete overlap for possible uses.


1q. 鈴木さんを知っていますか。

2q. 鈴木さんを知っていましたか。 ( Did you know ... ? )

--- These questions can (could) mean the same thing.

One would not say 1q if he's dead or gone away.

One is more likely to say 2q if he's dead or gone away.

  1. This states that Person B became acquainted with Suzuki at some point in the past but is currently not acquainted with him.

I agree.

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