I was revising the grammar for ていく and got this sentence from the Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar.


The meaning the book gave was that "It will get colder (and continue to be that way) from now on."

When it mentions "continue to be that way" does it mean it will:

1) get colder and remain at that level of coldness OR

2) continue to get colder and colder (increasing level of coldness) until the end of the process (Edit: removed this extra text)

I am leaning towards option 2 because in that particular sentence, I read that you can replace ていく with てくる to mean the exact same thing. And since てくる also indicates the beginning of some process.

Hope someone can give an input to clarify if I am misunderstanding it. Thanks.


I found this page ( https://www.tomojuku.com/blog/teikutekuru/ ) mentioning three different meanings the form 〜て いく can have:

  • (2.1) direction

  • (2.2) continuity

  • (2.3) change

This might cause ambiguity in some cases, which the context can sometimes help remove.

I would say that both meanings "change" and "continuity" could apply to your sentence, so both of your interpretations 1 and 2 can be correct.

(Obviously, temperatures could not get colder and colder infinitely, as there is a physical absolute limit, but can decrease continually over a period of time).

  • It's hard for me to see how interpretation 1 can apply to this sentence, as it seems that with this 〜くなっていくpattern, the whole point of adding いく is to indicate that the change will be ongoing and progressive for some indeterminate (though not infinite) period of time. And the link you provided actually seems to support this view. Can you elaborate on why you think the "continuity" meaning is possible here? – Nanigashi Oct 24 '20 at 17:53
  • @nanigashi It was surprising to me too, but if you read section 2.3 in the link I provided you will find the almost exact same sentence as the one from interpretation 1,given to illustrate the case of a change (that is not necessarily continuous, but will happen in the future): "(3)変化している (例)寒くなってきましたね。 (例)これから、どんどん暑くなっていく。 この「いく」「くる」も、動詞本来の意味を持っていません。 「いく」「くる」を用いることによって、 変化していることを表します。 " – wip Oct 24 '20 at 23:55

It's 2), "continue to get colder and colder over time". Unless I'm missing something, adjective + くなっていく always refers to a gradual change.

By the way, to mean 1), you can say something like (急に)寒くなってその寒さがしばらく続く.

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