Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 2: 10/17

~ていた

Was doing ~

Structure

Verb[てい+

Details

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    Standard

  • 使用域

    一般

About ていた

To convey that '(A) was happening', or that somebody 'was doing (A)' in Japanese, ていた (or ていました) will be used. ていた is a construction which uses the conjunction particle , and the ichidan verb いる (to exist), in its past tense form いた.
  • シャワー(こわ)ていたから2日間(かかん)シャワー()びれなかった
    Because the shower was broken, I was not able to take a shower for 2 days. (Was in the state of being broken)
  • 昨日(きのう)夜遅(よるおそ)までカラオケ(うた)ていたので、のど(いた)です
    I was singing until late last night at karaoke, so my throat hurts. (Was doing karaoke)
  • (むかし)パーマかけていました
    In the past, I used to have my hair permed. (Was getting perms)
  • (まど)()ていました
    The window was smashed. (Was in the state of being smashed)
Sometimes ていた is used to express things that are still ongoing, but the speaker is not sure about, or would like to politely advise the listener about. This is very similar to the way in which English uses '(A) was doing (B)'.
  • (ちち)さんその椅子(いす)(すわ)ていたから、こっち(すわ)りな。
    Dad was sitting there, so sit here please.
In this example, although the action of 'sitting' is not finished, we can imagine that the speaker is suggesting that 'dad was sitting here, and he still is, but he just went to get a drink'.
The same kind of sentence could be used when the speaker has walked away from where their dad was sitting, and doesn't actually know if he is still sitting there or not.

Examples

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  • 勉強(べんきょう)ていたけど(いま)(やす)んでいる

    I was studying but am taking a break right now.

    • 音楽(おんがく)()ていたから電話(でんわ)()こえなかった

      Because I was listening to music I couldn't hear the phone.

      • 昨日(きのう)()ごろ()ていた

        Yesterday around one o'clock I was sleeping.

        • 時間(じかん)椅子(いす)(すわ)ていたから、お(しり)(いた)

          I was sitting for as much as four hours, so my butt hurts.

          • (かあ)さん(かえ)って()(とき)(わたし)(はん)(つく)ていた

            When my mom came home I was making food.

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            ていた – Grammar Discussion

            Most Recent Replies (4 in total)

            • mrnoone

              mrnoone

              Hey

              Yes! This is the correct way of using the community forums! Feel free to ask as many questions as you want

            • Kurei

              Kurei

              As always clear and complete. Thank you very much!

              As you inferred the lack of an example that used て+いました was one of the reasons why I thought it may not exist. The other was that I didn’t get any warning about it being too polite.

              Then I’ll be less worried the next time I override an answer marked wrong due to a formality mismatch.

              I think I got too spoiled by all the “too polite” “more polite” and expected it always.
              Also, sorry for making you write all the explanation of the levels of politeness.

              P.S. I’ll be using these grammar points p...

            • Howl_UK

              Howl_UK

              On a slightly related note. Can ている also mean ‘will be doing’ (in the future) or can it only mean ‘am doing’ or ‘resultant change has happened and continues to remain in that state’?

              i.e. 明日本を読んだりケッキを食べたりしている
              Tomorrow I will be doing things like reading a book and eating cake.

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