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太郎が今ヨーロッパに行っている。 ‘Taro is now in Europe (as a result of having gone there).’

太郎が去年ヨーロッパに行っている。 ‘Taro is the one who has the experience of having gone to Europe last year.’

Can the latter mean the same as the former saying he went to Europe and has stayed there since?

What makes the latter different in meaning while both say ヨーロッパに行っている? Is it because of 今 and 去年?

What if both sentences have no indication of when it happened? That is 太郎がヨーロッパに行っている? What could this mean?

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    @Shurim it looks to me like this is a question about the distinction between two possible continuation of state cases, as opposed to continuation of an action vs continuation of state. The linked question is definitely relevant, but maybe not exactly the same. – Mindful Dec 30 '20 at 7:55
  • Thanks a lot! That was a very instructive and informative thread. I appreciate very much. No doubt, It does help me consolidate what I had learnt. Having said that I can’t see how it specifically answers my questions. I have read the thread again and again. I still can’t relate it to what I have asked. Perhaps it might dawn on me later, but not at this stage though. – Healer Jan 5 at 1:52
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Let me use は instead of exhaustive-listing-が to make things simpler.

太郎は去年ヨーロッパに行っている。
(Literally: "Taro has travelled to Europe last year.")

Basically you cannot tell where Taro is now only from this sentence. He may be still in Europe now, or he may have already returned to Japan, or he may be in Africa now. The interpretation purely depends on the context. If the previous context is "Where is Taro now?", then this sentence means he is still in Europe now. If the previous context is "Has anybody ever been to Europe?", then this sentence is about his experience in the past.

On the other hand, the meaning of 太郎は今ヨーロッパに行っている also depends on the context. It can mean either "He is in Europe now" or "He is on his way to Europe now".

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  • I’m not sure how replacing が with は affects the meaning of the sentences. I had learnt that ~行っている means either someone has arrived and is still around as well as for any repetitive or habitual action like what any ~ている verb does. So are 来ている and 帰っている as I came across the latter in the recommended thread. However I have never learnt any ~ている verb that refers to something that one has had experience of. If that is possible, how would it compare to ことがある then? – Healer Jan 5 at 1:57
  • You suggested that it could depend on context. However where I got this example sentence, faculty.washington.edu/ogihara/papers/Ogihara_handbook.pdf (22) b. & d., seems to be definite with what it means. I wouldn’t say I fully understand everything written there, especially in terms of aspect. That’s probably why and where I’ve got lost. – Healer Jan 5 at 1:57
  • @Healer ことがある has only one function, to neutrally describe one's past experience. ている can describe a similar thing, but it implies that experience is somehow important in the situation at hand. For example ハムレットを読んだことがありますか is just "Have you ever read Hamlet?", but ハムレットを読んでいますか sounds like it's a prerequisite of today's lecture. Some academic books use が more often than usual because it's simpler from a linguistic point of view, but in real natural sentences, は is used unless you really want the exhaustive-listing-が. As I said, (22)b is ambiguous. – naruto Jan 5 at 2:16
  • Thanks for your comment again! I had realized that ことがある has only one function and the one in question is not and that's where my question is. I don't understand why you said "Let me use は instead of exhaustive-listing-が to make things simpler." How does it affect the grammar in this context? Thanks! – Healer Jan 8 at 2:37
  • I have read japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/24324/… and I can't see the necessity of changing が to は for the grammar structure I have in question. Perhaps I still miss something. – Healer Jan 9 at 2:03

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