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I've been reading manga by myself for some time, and I've been noticing sentences where the て-form takes the role of a past tense marker (that is, the role of the た-form). At first I was letting it slide, but it keeps appearing in more and more cases and it's bugging me.

To put you an example, this is the most recent case I've stumbled upon (it's a girl talking about her experiences after visiting a game center):

パンチングゲームしてたら、プロボクサーがパンチの打{う}ち方{かた}を教{おし}えてくれ!それで打{う}ったらすごい気{き}持{も}ちよくて

I'm far from being an expert, but given the usage of the 〜たら conditional and the fact that she is talking about past experiences... wouldn't be more correct to use the た-form and say:

パンチングゲームしてたら、プロボクサーがパンチの打{う}ち方{かた}を教{おし}えてくれ!それで打{う}ったらすごい気{き}持{も}ちよかった

One possibility I thought of, is that she's using the て-form as a conjunctive form that would eventually lead to a final verb that would genuinely be in the た-form. Like, for example:

…を教{おし}えてくれ、それで彼{かれ}の顔{かお}を打{う}っ

But she stops talking (a friend replies to her), she doesn't say more things about her visit to the game center, that final verb in the た-form doesn't appear. And it doesn't appear either in the other cases I've come across.

So... I don't know anymore, I hope you could help me!

3

Your intuition is mostly on point.

One possibility I thought of, is that she's using the て-form as a conjunctive form that would eventually lead to a final verb that would genuinely be in the た-form.

This is the general idea behind ending sentences with the て form - that there is some omitted remainder of the sentence, left out because it was obvious to the listener, irrelevant, or for some other reason. That said, in practice, it's not always true. Sometimes people just end sentences like that.

The second and third examples in this answer are also worth looking at, but to address your post specifically:

パンチングゲームしてたら、プロボクサーがパンチの[打]{う}ち[方]{かた}を[教]{おし}えてくれて!

This is less of an omission and more of the train of thought that she is trying to express not really being over. The next sentence is pretty much a continuation of the same idea. It may help to think of this more as a pause in speech than the actual definitive end of her sentence.

それで[打]{う}ったらすごい[気]{き}[持]{も}ちよくて!

The sentence is not really over in the strictly grammatical sense, but there's no real way to know where it was going from here, if anywhere at all. I suspect the mangaka just wrote it this way to reflect a common speech pattern.

Note that this pattern can also be used to explain something, like:

Aさん:なんで遅刻しましたか?

Bさん:大雨のせいで交通事故があって。。。

In this case, the idea is that the sentence would have ended with "遅刻しました。" but the speaker didn't feel the need to say that, given the context.

Additionally, it can also be used to give the other person a chance to interject with an acknowledgement that they are listening, such as うんうん or そうか, like:

Aさん:昨日暑すぎて早く家帰りたいと思ってね

Bさん:うんうん

Aさん:でも実際帰ったら、冷房が壊れて家もめっちゃ暑かった!大変だったよ!

  • Thank you for answering! So, given that Japanese speakers have a strong tendency to leave sentences unfinished... I guess one could say that the て-form could work like a wild card in card games and take the role of any other grammar form? (as long as it's a sentence ending) – A. Iron Jan 14 '18 at 19:02
  • "Wildcard" might be a little bit strong. It's true that theoretically anything can come after the て/で, but unlike a wildcard in games, you don't get to choose. The listener/reader is going to fill in the remainder of the sentence with whatever they feel is appropriate, based on common sense or context from previous or following sentences. Accordingly, using it in a way that people are not used to hearing it used is likely to cause a misunderstanding. Also, note that as the other answer mentioned, it's a very casual speech style. – Mindful Jan 15 '18 at 2:14
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The constant use of the て ending is common among some younger people to try to sound casual or tough. The first て usage would be grammatical (if there were a comma instead of an exclamation point), while the second is not. ヤンキーっぽい. ゲーセンの子のマネをしないように。 For your last example, instead of それで (consequently), I would use それから.

  • Thank you for answering! I know the difference in meaning between それで and それから, but I left それで in my last example because I found it kind of funny ("...he taught me how to punch, and therefore I punched his face!") – A. Iron Jan 14 '18 at 20:17
  • You're welcome. The reason I mentioned it is because there is no consequential relationship (cause & effect) between someone teaching you how to punch and you punching them. If they had kicked you in the leg, then それで punch them in the face. – BJCUAI Jan 14 '18 at 20:40
  • "...there is no consequential relationship (cause & effect) between someone teaching you how to punch and you punching them". Yup, that's why I found it funny, because you don't expect somebody to think that those two actions are consequential and act that way unless she's a fool. Sorry if it doesn't translate that well into Japanese... – A. Iron Jan 14 '18 at 22:30
  • I appreciate the attempt, but humor can be tricky even between people raised in the same environment. Applying it to another language and culture is a whole other can of worms. Hang in there, though. – BJCUAI Jan 16 '18 at 1:52

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