In my grammar book, it says that てくる is used in two ways:

1) It is used with verbs that indicate a process that takes time to complete (e.g. 太る ---> 太ってきた = started to gain weight).

What is the difference between this and the 〜masu stem form of a verb + 〜始める? Don't they both mean begin?

2) It is used with a non-punctual verb (I don't know what that is) to indicate a continuation of sth. up to a current point in time e.g. 今までたくさん本を読んできました.

I don't understand the difference between using 読んできました and 読んでいました. In the above sentence, 読みました (read/have read) seems more fitting than either of them (Up to now I have read quite a few books).

  • し続ける means that you take over something that has already existed, which していく doesn't particularly refer to. Your grammar book has a problem in the point that it only refers to non-essential parts of graduality usage, which is just one of three main usages (non-subsidiary / directional / graduality).
    – user4092
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 23:30

1 Answer 1


「(私は)太ってきた」 means that you've got to notice you've gained more weight than before and you are still gaining weight. The change already began. It has attained a certain level, and is still proceeding.

「(私が)太り始める」just means that you started to get more weight, and you notice it at an early stage. You've got just enough weight that you can notice the change.

「今までたくさん本を読んできました」means that I've ever read many books up to now.

「来ました」lays weight on an attainment.

「今までたくさん本を読んでいました」means that I used to read many books up to now. This message can imply now I can't read as many books as before for some reason. Or after this message you can also say 「これからもたくさんの本を読み続けます」.

「いました」 lays weight on experience or custom.

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