I am learning Japanese via Glossika. I have now come across a construction which I do not really understand and cannot find an explanation online.

The sentences in question are always of the form

て-form of a verb + になります。


日本語 を 勉強し 始めて に なります。

(slightly altered to not use the concrete sentence from Glossika)

Here are orignal examples (as well as a similar one I found online)

  1. あなた は 先生 に なって どのぐらい に なります か?

  2. 英語 を 勉強し 始めて 半年 に なります

  3. 日本 に きて どのくらい に なりますか?

Can someone explain the usage of になる in this case. I know that this means 'to become' but so far I have only seen it used either with nouns or adjectives.

  • Could you maybe "use the concrete sentence from Glossika"? It looks like you might have altered the original sentence a bit too much.
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 21:40
  • Ok. These are two examples 1. 英語 を 勉強し 始めて 半年 に なります。 2. あなた は 先生 に なって どのぐらい に なります か?
    – wood
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 21:45
  • 1
    Ah, good. It seems that you for some reason left out 半年 & どのぐらい in "て-form of a verb + になります". Can you figure out by looking at examples what goes between the te-form and になります?
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 21:57
  • Ok, so if 半年 is what this what makes the sentence correct, I still do not understand it quite cleary or would it literally translate as 'I have begun studying english and?? it has a become half a year' Still not clear to me how to interpret the usage of the て-form
    – wood
    Commented Jan 22, 2017 at 22:00

2 Answers 2


There are two key concepts to understanding this sentence: the て form, and なる.

Function of -て

Firstly, the -て form of the verb is used to string events together, usually in sequential order:

I ate breakfast, and then took a shower.

When the second phrase expresses a passage of time, it describes how long it has (or had) been since the first phrase happened:

It's been a month since school started.

Thus, we can understand the first part of your example as:

(I) started learning English... (and then something else happened).

To a native English speaker, this kind of construction for telling time looks strange (yet logical), but it is very common in Japanese.


As for なる, it still is used with a noun here. なる is only used with adjectives and nouns. In fact, to use it with a verb, you have to turn the verb into a noun with よう or こと so that you can attach に. For example:

I became able to play the piano well

So in the second part of your (full) example, なる is used with the noun 半年, to indicate the passage of time:

It becomes a half year/half a year passes

The original sentence

So, putting these concepts together, we can decipher your sentence:

I started studying English, and then it became half a year. (lit)
I've been studying English for half a year.

  • ピアノをひけるになった。 >> You meant to type ひけるようになった, no?
    – chocolate
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 4:14
  • @Schokolade Yes, I did. Thank you for catching that!
    – Blavius
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 4:28

In the expression:

「Verb in て-form + (length of time) + に + なる/なります」,

「~~になる」 does not mean "to become ~~".

Instead, it means "(length of time) has passed".

When using this expression in asking questions regarding how much time someone has been doing something, you just replace the (length of time) by 「どれくらい」 or 「どのくらい」 and attach a 「か」 at the very end of the question.

This should explain the structures and meanings of all of the example sentences you have listed above.

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