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When something is happening and another thing also happens or is happening in general in English, we can use Verb+ing form after "when" or "whenever" to express the idea, like the two examples below.

Example 1:

When/Whenever I am watching TV, my friend annoys me.

Example 2:

When/Whenever I am doing my homework, my younger brother is playing video games.


Question:

If I want to express the same concept in Japanese, do I use "する時" or "ている時"?

When/Whenever I am watching TV, my friend annoys me.

Example 3: 私がテレビを見ている時、友達が邪魔する。

Example 4: 私がテレビを見る時、友達が邪魔する。

When/Whenever I am doing my homework, my younger brother is playing video games.

Example 5: 私が宿題をしているとき、弟はゲームをやっている。

Example 6: 私が宿題をするとき、弟はゲームをやっている。

2 Answers 2

1

I want to expand a bit on this question's answer, which is very similar.

Example 3 is good. It means that when you are watching TV, your friend annoys you.

Example 4 means "right before I watch TV, my friend annoys me" (which is pretty nonsensical...)

Example 5 and 6 have a similar problem. Example 6 means "right before I do my homework, my brother plays games".

In general, if you are in a state when something else happens, use ている to specify that it is indeed a state. Otherwise, if the verb is an action, the meaning changes.

Edit: in response to the comment by a20, I've cited a source for my translations, A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, page 493:

DBJG, p 493

5
  • 4 is simply translated as "When I watch TV, my friend bugs me", I do not understand where you get the "right before" from.
    – a20
    Feb 2, 2022 at 12:33
  • My reference is A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
    – Riolku
    Feb 2, 2022 at 17:45
  • @a20 I've edited the post, how's this
    – Riolku
    Feb 2, 2022 at 17:48
  • @Riolku I found this example in the page 491 of the book. It is: 松本さんは朝ご飯を食べる時いつもテレビをみる(Mr. Matsumoto always watches TV when he eats his breakfast.)This means my example 4 can also mean When/Whenever I watch TV, my friend annoys me. I think it is wierd. Can you explain about this topic more?
    – vincentlin
    Feb 12, 2022 at 14:55
  • Honestly, I don't understand it enough. This sentence given is fine, but I don't know how it differs from 食べている... my guess is that the progressive tense gives more focus to the action of eating
    – Riolku
    Feb 13, 2022 at 5:18
3

Examples #3 and #5 sound natural for what you mean.

Example #4 is also fine if you are talking about what habitually happens, as opposed to a specific instance in which you are already watching TV and your friend disturbs you. I think you can say “When/Whenever I watch TV” in English for this sense, too.

While example #6 could also be understood as referring to a habit, it sounds a bit odd because of the progressive やっている. It sounds as if your brother is already in the middle of playing a game by the time you sit down to do your homework, and that happens every time you do so.

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