I've been studying Japanese here in Tokyo from scratch for a good 2 months now. I've been struggling with daily conversation but I try to improve each day by studying.

Lately, I am trying to understand when to use ~te form + iru/inai vs masu/masen. Don't get me wrong, this post is not about asking help for conjugation techniques, but rather which one to use especially for conversations. To ~te or not to ~te, that is the question.

For example:

When people ask if I did homework, I know the correct way of saying "I didn't do it" would be やっていない. I was wondering why, or rather, what would be the difference if I responded with やりませんでした/やらなかった or やっていなかった? Because the way I see it, I was not able to do my homework which was given in the past (probably like yesterday for example), therefore I should use past tense. Also, why not plainly use やりませんでした/やらなかった. Why does it have to be in ~te form?

Another example I have is:

What would be the difference between けっこんした vs けっこんしていた? I know the first one means "I got married in the past", does the second one mean "I was married in the past.. but now I am not!" ~ kind of nuance?

I know this might be something very basic, but for someone like me, it's hard to grasp it. Any feedback is much appreciated. Thank you!


1 Answer 1


「宿題をやらなかった。」means not only "I didn't do my homework",but also "I didn't have the intention to do my homework".And it also means "I'm saying just the fact that I didn't do my homework yesterday".So that words are used when you wanna say "I didn't do my homework,but I"ll do it today".

「しゅくだいをやりませんでした。」is polite version of 「宿題をやらなかった。」.

「しゅくだいをやっていない。」means "I didn't do my homework,and I've not done my homework yet".And this wors let the other person imagine that he possibly could not do it for some reason.

「しゅくだいをやっていなかった。」means "I used not to do my homework(,but I do recently)"or"I didn't do my homework (,but I finished it a little while ago)".

About 「けっこんした/けっこんしていた」,your idea is correct.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .