I'm so confused. Every book teaches that ます is used for the future, but also for the present.

e.g. 肉を食べません
1. I don't eat meat
2. I'm not going to eat meat.

But now I think that it has to be always 肉を食べていません for the present and 肉を食べません only for the future.

1. Right now I'm not eating meat (because right now I'm eating salad)
2. I'm generally not eating meat (because I'm a vegetarian)

--> So ます is never used except for the future? If not in what kind of sentences is it used to express the present?

  • 1
    I'm a little confused, because all of your examples are about negative sentences, but in the title you have ています, and then ます in the main post.
    – Leebo
    Jul 31, 2019 at 11:06

1 Answer 1


There is a great video explanation about this issue in Misa Ammo's channel

Maybe I should add the explanation here since it's a third party link. In short, ています and ている are used for actions you're performing right now (as you're saying them), while ます are for actions that you either have been doing for a while or will do in the future (present/future).

日本語を勉強します  =  I study Japanese (or I've been studying Japanese)

日本語を勉強しています = I'm studying Japanese (I'm studying right now as I'm typing this, which doesn't make too much sense)

The correct way in this case is the first form.

There is not a separated tense for future in Japanese, so express this, you have to say when you will do it:

今晩に日本語を勉強します = I will study Japanese tonight.
  • 1
    Your answer incorrectly oversimplifies the usage of ています. Specifically, 日本語を勉強しています can express habitual action - "I (have been and still) am studying Japanese" -- you don't have to be studying Japanese right now to use this phrase correctly.
    – henreetee
    Jul 31, 2019 at 15:37

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