I was watching a Japanese Drama, and I have questions regarding the usage of Past tense (た) instead of Present Perfect (ている) in the following sentence.

In this Drama a person was looking for someone and as soon as he finds him (both are present in the frame and he just finds him) he says, 見つけた (I found him), rather than ている as in 見つけている (I have found him).

As per my understanding of the following articles on the Stackexchange, ている is used to show both Continuous Aspect and Present Perfect (More or less dependent upon whether the Verb is Punctual or Durative). When some fact of the past is related and is being talked about in relation to present Present perfect is used as per @Naruto san. Example 知る is used as 知っている, even though we have learned (known) about him in the past, however we use ている as the focus is not on the fact that we learnt it in the past but on the fact that whether we know someone or not i.e. present.

Likewise, why was not ている used in 見つける. As in this case as well, even though as soon as he found him the action was complete and it changed to past. However, the focus is on the present i.e. the fact that he found him, and not of that he found him in past, but just on the fact that he found him. So, in this case, as per my understanding of the following resources. 見つけている should have been used.


  1. Is my understanding correct?
  2. Should 見つけている be used instead of 見つけた, given the facts of the scene of the drama?

Resources used to gather this understanding:

a. When is Vている the continuation of action and when is it the continuation of state?

b. Usage of ている in Punctual Verbs in Japanese and the Concept of Present Perfect in English

c. Is 寝る a stative or active verb?

d. If Vて+いる isn't a gerund, then what is it?

2 Answers 2


I believe generally in Japanese immediately upon completing a task, you use the past tense.

Examples range from

  • やった
  • できた
  • 出来上がった (said almost immediately after preparing a meal to essentially say “dinner’s ready.)
  • みつかった

Perhaps if a fair amount of time has elapsed (like a day or an entire week—I suppose “fair amount of time” would depend on the urgency of the situation), it might make sense to say 見つけている. (An urgent situation might be a parent with Alzheimers who walked out of the house and no one know where they are.) But immediately after the accomplishing something, no.

  • Let us take an example, if we go by this reasoning. A boy is lost and if someone finds him he would use 見つけた, whereas, in case this another person (let us say the boy's mother call that person) now if he asks him the status of whether the boy is found or not, will he use 見つけている?
    – APK
    Nov 9, 2020 at 9:25
  • Sorry for the late response, it took me some time to figure out what you said, could you please deal with my query?
    – APK
    Nov 9, 2020 at 9:34

ている implies an ongoing action.

In English, you don't say "I'm finding someone", you say "I'm looking for someone". To "find something" means the action of looking for something is finished. The object is already found.

Likewise, in Japanese you say "友達を探している", not "友達を見つけている".

  • But ている also has a perfectual usage, and can work in both cases of Punctual (stative) and Duratvie Verbs as well. Check Resource link a and b. So, other than the continuous usage it also has a perfect tense use. E.g. 食べる is a durative verb, in common understanding 食べてる implies eating, but can also have a context of have eaten (even when used without もう (see resource link b for this one) @naruto san has explained why 食べてる can have a perfect aspect in his answer
    – APK
    Sep 29, 2020 at 7:34
  • "@APK Or it may be just a description of a past experience, but it's hard to distinguish.... 5年前に寿司を食べている sounds like he has eaten sushi, and it was 5 years ago, and this fact is somehow important now. – naruto Aug 1 at 0:06 " here is the quote of the comment wherein a durative verb 食べる (has a perfect aspect) it is a comment of Resource link B
    – APK
    Sep 29, 2020 at 7:49
  • Yes, ている can also be used to imply a continuous state, but this state does not apply to the word "find", which occurs one time and is permanent. It does not occur continuously like "eating" can, hence the example in my answer.
    – asa9ohan
    Sep 29, 2020 at 7:52
  • Here's another way to phrase it: One can "start eating" and "stop eating", but one cannot "start finding" and "stop finding".
    – asa9ohan
    Sep 29, 2020 at 7:54
  • But if we take the verb 送る as in to send, it also takes one time and is permanent (Punctual Verb) (as per resource link a), but it can have perfect meaning if we apply ている. So, why not in case with 見つける
    – APK
    Sep 29, 2020 at 7:55

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