Let's use the word 壊す (Transitive) and 壊れる (Intransitive) For Transitive verbs in Japanese, it seems fairly easy to say "it is being broken" vs "it was and currently still is broken". 壊している - "Breaking" 壊してある - "Broke and still broken"

Now, from what I understand, intransitive verbs differ when in the ~ている form, they indicate present state. 壊れている - "Broke and still broken"

How can we get the "Breaking" meaning here for the intransitive?

1 Answer 1


What [V て-form]-いる means highly depends on context, and that’s regardless of whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. For example, 食べる is a transitive verb but 食べている could also refer to a state of someone having eaten something, either in the sense that the action is already completed or the person has an experience of doing the action in the past.



Given the right contexts, 壊している could also be used in similar ways.



The first usage is rarer with a verb like 壊す because Japanese tends to express its result focusing on the thing broken rather than the person’s action that caused it, even when that action was deliberate, and therefore, tends to use an intransitive verb (壊れている) or the passive form of a transitive verb (壊されている) with the thing broken as its subject.

[Vt て-form]-ある is different. It’s not easy to imagine a situation where 壊してある sounds natural. Someone would have to deliberately break something and intentionally leave it broken for some purpose.

壊れている is normally understood as meaning that something is already broken because 壊れる normally refers to an instantaneous change of state, rather than a process. If something disintegrates over a period of time, 壊れている could also refer to an ongoing state.

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