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I've been unclear about this for a while and a recent question on this site prompted me to ask for clarification.

Consider the sentence, 犯罪が増えている. In this sentence, is it implied that the increasing has stopped? In other words, does 増える represent an instantaneous state change between some smaller amount and some larger amount or does it represent a process that can continue?

If 増えている represents a progressive process and this implies that the increasing in continuing, is it grammatical to include an amount? Is 「三倍増えている」acceptable and if so, what does it mean given that the increasing changing?

If it is ambiguous, how could it be clarified?

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It depends on contexts.

If it's accompanied with 今まさに (right now), it's progressive, though you may want to conjugate it into 増えていっている or てきている.

三倍に増えている is interpreted as "it has tripled" and it's not sure how it went since then without extra information.

  • Thank you for your answer. Usually when I see 増える used with quantities, it is used without the に. Is there a particular reason that 三倍 requires に or is that just how it is? – G-Cam May 3 '18 at 21:45
  • 三倍 "san bai" means "three times" ... the に represents "by", and should accompany amounts or percentages. "by 300 percent", "by three times the prior measure". Your Japanese, 「三倍増えている」, without に , is good enough in speech, where particles are often dropped. In writing it might pass as well, but inserting に is more grammatical. – ericfromabeno May 4 '18 at 1:39
  • 3倍増える sounds like how it increases is three times larger, i.e increasing 30% this time where it was 10% last time. – user4092 May 4 '18 at 3:00
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犯罪が増えている by itself, with no other information supplied, indicates an ongoing phenomenon. "増える", the act of "increasing", either in English or in Japanese, is something that can happen instantaneously or over time, depending on the context.

増えている CAN be used when including amounts, but in such cases it does not conjure an image of "continuing increasing (past this point)" that you might thing would be implied by the "ている" form. Instead it conjures an image of "has been increasing, up to and including to this present time" and as such, it can be translated most naturally as a simple past tense verb. "Crime has increased by 20 percent over the last 10 years." I can't remember having ever heard it used in this manner though. Simple past or present perfect continuous forms are more appropriate.

...Though I think 増える might be more appropriately used for physical increases, such as amounts of objects, or weight.. rather than intangible things like numbers of crimes, or political approval, for example.

  • Would someone knowledgeable explain why this answer might have been downvoted? – G-Cam May 3 '18 at 21:42
  • I honestly don't know why it got so many downvotes. I can say that I don't have a linguist background like most of the high quality answers on this site. My understanding of Japanese comes from a few years of study followed by almost 20 years (so far) living in Japan. Maybe my answer misses a nuance that I'm not aware of. I do wish downvotes were always accompanied by some sort of memo. Would be helpful. – ericfromabeno May 4 '18 at 1:35

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