The source sentence says: “On monday nights it was closed.” But why not 閉まっていた then? Since it happened in the past. I think 閉まった might also work to describe that the place closed, but I guess that would sound better were it written along with a concrete time, like 10 p.m.

Here’s yet another sentence that confuses me:


So does this mean “I can’t believe he would do/is going to do such a thing or that he did it already, and now I can’t believe it? I found this sentence as an example sentence in a dictionary, so I can’t provide any context, but wonder how it could be interpreted.

Please bear in mind I’m also not a native English speaker.

  • 3
    The first example seems to be a mistranslation, unless they intentionally used the literary present.
    – aguijonazo
    Feb 21, 2022 at 8:00
  • I thought so, I was afraid I was just missing something regarding the ている usage, because they seem to be a native speaker. But the second sentence is puzzling to me as to what interpretations could be possible given the context. Feb 21, 2022 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


I suspect the difference in the first case may not be a difference in literal meaning as much as a difference in how English vs Japanese speakers tend to view and express certain situations, and may be a matter of context. The Japanese sentence is saying that as a general situation, it is always closed on Monday nights. However, if the surrounding events that are being described are things that happened in the past, it is common for an English speaker to also phrase that sort of situation in a past tense as well, even if it may also be true in the present and in general, for example:

I wanted to go to my favorite restaurant, but on Monday nights it was closed, so I went to the place down the street instead.

This doesn't mean it isn't also closed on Monday nights now too (it probably is, because it's a general condition), and indeed you probably could phrase it in the present tense too, but it's just that (at least to many people) it sounds better in English when expressed with matching tenses to all of the surrounding text instead. (but this is often not as strong a factor in Japanese)

For the second passage, I think it's important to understand that the する in that sentence is essentially part of a subclause modifying なんて, so it is more a descriptive qualifier than referring to an actual occurrence.

In this sort of situation where a verb is modifying something that comes after it, it is sometimes useful to view the non-past (する) form as somewhat similar to the gerund (-ing) form in English, that is:

彼があんなことをするなんて信じられない -- "Something like (なんて) him doing that sort of thing (彼があんなことをする) is unbelievable (信じられない)"


But why not 閉まっていた then?

There is no reason not to say "閉まっていた".

So does this mean “I can’t believe he would do/is going to do such a thing or that he did it already, and now I can’t believe it?"

Most probably "would do" (past) instead of "is going to do" (future):


"I (currently) can't believe he would do that (thing he did already)"

The following is essentially the same, and may be easier to process:


"I (currently) can't believe he did that (thing he did already)"

Note that there is a subtle difference in the nuance between the above two examples, which may start to get subjective and require a long answer.

As you mentioned, there is also a low probability to mean:

"I (currently) can’t believe he is going to do such a thing

But in that case, it most probably would be explicitly stated in the sentence:

  • "彼が今からあんなことをするなんて信じられない。"
  • "彼がこれからあんなことをするなんて信じられない。"
  • "彼が将来あんなことをするなんて信じられない。"

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