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I can't really think of a sensible context to be honest. Let's say I want to say that I can eat right now but I don't know for how long I'll be able to, so I use the progressive form.

Is there a difference in the meaning between these forms:

食べていられる

食べられている

As for ことができる construction, which verb should be conjugated to progressive in such case?

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Is there a difference in the meaning between these forms:

食べていられる

食べられている

I would like to ask you, do you mean by "progressive" to mean "to keep eating"?

In that case, the upper 食べていられる would be good, though it a bit sounds without any limit IMO.

The lower would sound to Japanese as either

1 the honorific expression

or

2 the passive expression

IMO, which would fall would depend on the prior or latter texts.

Probably another "form" of the "progressive style" would be,

食べ続{つづけ}ける事{こと}ができる, meaning, to keep eating.

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  • 「食べていられる」 -- The progressive 「食べている」 ("be eating") is given the potential modality. The resulting expression is parallel to "be able to be eating" or "can be eating". Example:

こんな状況でよく食べていられるな。 "How can you be eating in a situation like this?"

  • 「食べられている」 -- The potential 「食べられる」 ("be able to eat" or "can eat") is given the progressive aspect. The result is parallel to" be being able to eat". Example:

体調がよくなったので、今はちゃんと食べられている

"My health has improved, so I am being able to eat well right now. " (Awkward, admittedly, but illustrates the point, hopefully.)

There are in fact multiple possible readings (three, as far as I can tell) for the stem 「食べられ」 in 「食べられている」, including passive and honorific, and potential is one of them.

  • Do you think it might be better (from a meaning perspective, not a proper English perspective) to translate 今はちゃんと食べられている to so now I am in a state of being able to eat well. I wonder if the verb 食べられる is considered a stative verb and thus does not receive a progressive meaning when followed by いる. What are your throughts? – G-Cam Jan 15 '18 at 3:14
  • @G-Cam Looking at "I am being able to eat well right now" again , it makes less sense to me now. Weirdness aside, what can it be taken to mean? What added nuances does it have, compared to the non-progressive version? Maybe a temporary nature of the state and/or a bit of intentionality on the part of the subject, latter of which would mean the English is unsuitable for the Japanese, in terms of meaning. With that said, I think "so now I am in a state of being able to eat well" is pretty close – goldbrick Jan 16 '18 at 12:39
  • Japanese Wikipedia says 可能動詞 (verbs in potential form) are stative verbs, without qualification. Since "be ...ing" and the progressive "...ている" have different semantics, with the usage of both being internally varied, and corresponding verbs in the two languages have different aspectual profiles and dynamics, it feels impossible to satisfactorily reconcile the two systems both grammatically and semantically at once. I agree that "ている" doesn't really impart progressivity to 食べられる. I think it serves to limit the time frame of the state to the present. – goldbrick Jan 16 '18 at 12:40
  • Found a similar discussion here which I think supports this answer. Just search for 「食べていられる」on the page. Still confusing to me though. – purayeru Jan 25 '18 at 10:12
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Let's say I want to say that I can eat right now but I don't know for how long I'll be able to, so I use the progressive form.

Kentaro's answer was was good. I would just suggest a couple other possibilities: 今しばらく食べ続けられる or とりあえず食べ続ける事ができる.

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