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I know from looking at the title many of you are thinking "Frey, you should KNOW THIS by now." And to be honest I should, its just a matter of the more research I did only served to further confuse me.

Dialogue with sentence in question:

「たしかに今までは、そんな自分に気づかなかったでしょうね。平穏な暮らしをしている限りはわからないわ。身の危険が迫った時にだけ発現する能力だか」

My Genki I book says the following on ている

A verbal "te-form" when followed by the helping verb いる, means either of the following:

(a) an action in progress, or

(b) a past event that is connected with the present.

Which of these two senses a given verb is used in is to a large extend determined by the semantic characteristics of the verb. The verbs we have learned so far can be roughly divided into three groups based on their semantics.

(1) verbs that describe continuous states

(2) verbs that describe activities that last for some time

(3) verbs that describe changes that are more or less instantaneous

At first, I thought the している was being used as (b) a past event that is connected with the present. Considering how in context the past event was 平穏な暮らし, I thought option (b) was the correct choice as far as to what している meant in the above sentence and context.

My research to find a way to show the ている time construct through the usage of specific tenses in my native language, American-English - which I never formally studied the tenses of - has led to an extreme doubt in the accuracy of the ている being used as (b).

Looking around JSE Q&A for information on which of the above numbered options would work for する lead me to this question and this answer, the later of which has the following excerpt:

So as a verb it means "to act in a way that accomplishes [objective]"

And for ~をする since を marks the direct object, it means "do ~" (Because it's a direct object, doing ~ directly accomplishes ~)

する can also be used for describing some attribute:

私は長い足をしている to mean "I have long legs"(stative resultant ている form of する)

To accomplish "long legs", the simplest way is to simply "have" it.

Further research into the ている construct led me here, and to this question. Questioning the particle usage of を in the above was what might have led me to the question containing the above except in the first place. After all this research, I still have no clue whether する is a transitive/intransitive verb in the above, which according to my Genki II book will affect how the ている affects the verb, among other things.

As you can see I'm confused because of over-research into figuring out what the している is if its not option (b) from the above Genki I excerpt. If the correct option was in fact (b), please answer the following translation question:

As a native Japanese would read している and recognize that the 平穏な暮らしthat occurred far in the past is being connected to the present via している, what specific tense would work for describing 平穏な暮らしをしている限りは so that a English reader will have the same (or as close as possible) experience reading the translation as a native reader would when reading the original?

  • It seems like 限り would be important to understanding the sentence as well, no? – Leebo Sep 12 at 4:24
  • @Leebo 限り is a noun being used as a non-noun conjunctive in the above sentence. – Toyu_Frey Sep 12 at 4:38
  • Just wondering why it didn't come up in the question. 〜ている限り feels like a grammar point unto itself. – Leebo Sep 12 at 4:43
  • @Leebo Chocolate helped me understand it two days ago in a chat room. I regret not knowing two-thirds of the stuff I know now, back when I first came to this site (would have saved many people from headaches caused by my ignorance). – Toyu_Frey Sep 12 at 4:55
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平穏な暮らしをしている限りはわからないわ。
You won't notice it (=the ability) as long as you are leading an uneventful life.

This する is "to do". Although "to do an uneventful life" makes little sense in English, 平穏な暮らしをする makes perfect sense in Japanese. Basic "light verbs" like する, やる, かける, とる, ひく and so on have lots of unpredictable usages, and you have to remember which noun is used with which verb. See: What does する mean here? And of course this する is transitive. You should be able to tell it just by looking at を after 暮らし. A suru-verb like 勉強する is a different topic.

Next, this ている describes (a), an action in progress. Note that the previous sentence is about his past (気づかなかっ) but the main predicate of the sentence in question is in the present tense (わからない). This means this sentence is about a generic fact; it's about how an ability-owner is leading their life now, not how the protagonist has lived his life so far. In other words, she is saying "In general, anyone with the ability can notice their ability whenever they starts living a dangerous life".

Finally, this sentence has nothing to do with historical present. A general fact like "The earth is round" is described in the present tense both in English and in Japanese.

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