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While reading a book on grammar, I read the following:

Context: Shima and Hastushiba Electric's racing team manager Ono are relaxing at a bar after a test run at the track and discussing their chances of victory, when rival Solar Electric's driver Inagaki sits down.

Inagaki: あ、小野さん、来てたんですか。
Ono: や。

Explanation: [...] kite iru is literally "has come," but it's usually better thought of as "is/are here"; it never means "is [in the process of] coming," which is expressed in other ways.

What "other ways" can a verb that normally describes a continuation of state describe a continuation of action? What about something like 死んでいる ("has died and is still dead") vs 死んでいるところ ("the process of dying")?

What other ways?

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You seem to already know this, but ところ is a way to treat a change-in-state verb as a continuous-action verb. It's explained in detail here.

Options include:

  • 来ているところです。 (using ところ)
  • 来る途中です。 (using 途中)
  • 向かっています。 (using another verb)
  • 今来ています。 (using 今)
  • 今向かっているところです。 (you can combine them)

As shown above, what the book is saying is not entirely correct. 来ている can mean both "has come" and "is coming" depending on the context. For example, it's valid to say the following:

A: 小野さんがいませんが。
B: 小野さんは今来ています。 Mr. Ono is coming now.
(Saying 今 is important)


台風が来てるよ。 A typhoon is coming. (rather than "A typhoon has come")

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