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Edit: The link provided by @broken headphones has helped resolve my する/している problem (I think). I have one problem remaining though. Given @Sonny365TANAKA's answer that 彼女は長い髪の毛です is not grammatical, if 田中さんは神妙な顔だ is grammatical then what is the difference? Translating directly to English, why can I say "Tanaka is a meek face" but I cannot say "She is long hair". Both describe a person's features and both sound strange to me.

End edit

田中さんは神妙な顔だ。
田中さんは神妙な顔をしている。
Tanaka has a meek face.

Describing facial expressions confuses me. Firstly because of the use of "is" rather than "has" i.e. literal translation of the first sentence is "Tanaka is a meek face". I can live with that.

Is there any difference in meaning/nuance between these two sentences. How do I interpret している? Is it "is making", "has made", or simply "is/has".

Does the way I phrase it change depending on whether I'm talking about the current state of the face or an enduring feature. e.g.

Tanaka has a meek face (and it is always like that. It's just his character)
Tanaka has a meek face (because he's just done something shameful)

Am I right that these issues occur with other aspects of describing a person? For example I saw these two sentences in some example translations:

彼女は長い髪の毛です
私の髪は長い

My instinct tells me that the second one is incorrect even though that is how you would expect to translate it.

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    Your adjective choice of 神妙な makes this a difficult question to answer. Are you really of the opinion that some people INNATELY have a 神妙な顔? If so, I think the majority of Japanese-speakers would disagree. – l'électeur Jan 8 '17 at 10:25
  • @l'électeur Please feel free to use any adjective of your choice. That's just the one that made me start thinking about the question. Perhaps 'meek' isn't the best translation, but I certainly know people that I could describe as permanently meek-looking. – user3856370 Jan 8 '17 at 10:31
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Example-1
田中さんの様子はどうだ? How are they? (focus on the shot)
田中さんは神妙な顔だ。 Mr.Tanaka is on his good behavior. (on his p's.)

Example-2
田中さんはどうしている? Let me know how they are doing? (focus on the scene)
田中さんは神妙な顔をしている。I'm not sure the proper English, but it could be "Mr. Tanaka puts his poker face."

NG: 彼女は長い髪の毛です。
acceptable: "彼女は長い髪の毛の人です。", OK: "彼女は髪の毛の長い人です。" or OK: "彼女の髪の毛は長い。"

OK: 私の髪は長い。

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