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In A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, one of the uses of the te form is given as listing two or more verbs. An example is given, which is:

ジムは日本へ行って勉強しました。

This is translated as 'Jim went to Japan and studied (in Japan)'. My question is, can the sentence not be interpreted as 'Jim went to Japan and studied (but not necessarily in Japan)'? Does the te form allow both meanings?

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When you use the て-form to link sentences, you are implying that there is some relationship (other than just one thing happened after the other) between the clauses. -て must imply some sort of casual relationship.

The relationship can be weak (it is a weaker relationship than using から = "because", for example). But in your example there is some causal relationship between "went to japan" and "studied" so it would be strange to read that sentence as studied somewhere other than japan.

If you want to just say one thing happened after another thing (no relationship other than temporal), you can use -てから.

If you want to just list things that happened (in no order), you can use -たり, -たり, or -し, -し constructions.

As an example consider the following dialog:

A: What have you been up to this week?

B: Well, I worked, I played tennis on tuesday, drank beers with my friends, went to the movies,...

It would be incorrect to link the clauses in B's response with the -て form since they are just listing activities that they did this week with no temporal or causal relationship.

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I think it doesn't have the meaning of "Jim went to Japan and studied (but not necessarily in Japan)'.

It means "Jim went to Japan and studied (in Japan)".

  • And this is always the case with the te form? E.g if I replace 日本 with something else like パーテイ、would it mean 'Went to the party and studied (at the party)? So te form always implies the activities are linked in that way. – AMathsStudent1 Jul 7 '18 at 18:36
  • I think so, but "Went to the party and studied (at the party)" is odd, isn't it? パーティーに行って、酒を飲みました "I went to the party and drank(at the party)" is natural, isn't it? – Yuuichi Tam Jul 7 '18 at 18:45
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    @AMathsStudent1 This seems to be purely a question of contextual inference. Xて Y is mostly 'X and (then) Y', 'Y in an X manner', or 'X and Y simultaneously'; and the rest is left to the hearer to figure out. – Sjiveru Jul 7 '18 at 19:28

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