Learn JLPT N5 Grammar (te iru)

Meaning

ongoing action or current state

How to use

Verb (て form)いる
いない
います
いません
jlpt N5 grammar ている teiru flashcard meaning

Learn Japanese grammar: (te iru). Meaning: the progressive tense of a verb which shows that something is currently happening or ongoing.

There are a couple different ways it can be used, including:

  1. Progressive tense – currently doing
  2. Continuous – have been doing
  3. Present situation – what do you do now?
  4. Habitual actions – frequently happens
  5. The current state / State / condition / appearance of subject
How to conjugate progressive form (te iru)

This grammar point requires you convert the verb to て-form. After you do that, all you do is add いる at the end. In case you need it, here is a reminder on how to conjugate て-form. If not, skip ahead to the examples.

EndingDictionaryChanges to...て form

Progressive tense basic examples

Example a)

(miru) to look; to watch
(mite iru) looking; watching; seeing

Example b)

(yomu) to read
(yonde iru) reading

As you can see, each verb changes to a current/continuous state of doing.

However, as introduced in the beginning of this lesson, there are 5 different ways this grammar can be used. Let’s dive into each one in more detail below..


Meaning 1) Progressive tense – currently doing (te iru)

jlpt sensei learn ている (teiru) grammar

This is the most basic meaning, which shows that you are currently doing something at this moment.

Example 1.1)

hiru gohan o tabe teiru.

currently eating lunch now.

Example 1.2) Negative form

shukudai o yatte inai.

currently not doing homework.

ていない is the negative version of ている.

Example 1.3) Polite form

okaasan to denwa o shite imasu.

I am currently on the phone with my mom.

ています is the more polite version of ている.

Meaning 2) Continuous – have been doing

jlpt sensei learn ていない (teinai) grammar

This meaning shows that you are currently doing something and have been doing so up until now.

Example 2.1)

sensei no hanashi o kiite iru no?

Are you listening to what the teacher is saying?

Have you been listening to what the teacher is saying?

Example 2.2)

go nenkan nihongo o benkyou shite imasu.

I have been studying Japanese for 5 years.


Meaning 3) Present situation – what you do now

jlpt sensei learn ています (teimasu) grammar

This meaning shows what you are doing now in general, not just this particular moment.

Example 3.1)

omoshiroi hon o yonde iru.

I am reading (currently or in general) an interesting book.

This example can either mean currently at this particular moment or currently as in “lately”. It depends on the context of the conversation.

Example 3.2)

nihon de nihongo o benkyou shite imasu.

I am studying Japanese in Japan.

This example is more obvious that it is not just in this particular moment, but rather describing one’s current situation.


Meaning 4) Habitual / frequent actions

jlpt sensei learn てる (teru) grammar

This meaning shows habitual behavior or can be used when talking about something that frequently happens.

Example 4.1)

mainichi, neru mae ni manga o yonde iru.

I read manga every day before I sleep.

Example 4.2)

itsumo jitensha de tsukin shite iru.

I always commute by bicycle.


Meaning 5) State / condition / appearance of subject

jlpt sensei learn grammar lesson

This can be used to describe the current state of something, what something looks like, or that something was left in a certain state.

Example 5.1)

kare wa otou-san to nite iru.

He looks (seems) like his father.

Example 5.2)

doa ga aite iru.

The door has been left open.

This translates to the door is open, but the focus is also on the fact that the door has been left open.

Example 5.3)

kyou wa shokudou ga totemo konde iru.

The cafeteria is very crowded today.

Note that this example (and others) may cross over multiple categories. This is the same as the progressive tense, that it is “currently” crowded, but at the same time this is also describing the state of something, so it applies to both meanings.


Extra Study Notes

In summary, ている (te iru) has numerous meanings, including:

  1. Progressive tense – currently doing
  2. Continuous – have been doing
  3. Present situation – what do you do now?
  4. Habitual actions – frequently happens
  5. The current state / State / condition / appearance of subject

Often in conversation the い will be dropped to become てる. This is only for casual conversations.

JLPT grammar ている (te iru)  - Learn Japanese

Vocabulary List

KanjiKanaEnglish
話すはんすto speak
書くかくto write
泳ぐおよぐto swim
飲むのむto drink
遊ぶあそぶto play
死ぬしぬto die
切るきるto cut
買うかうto buy
持つもつto have; hold
するto do
来るくるto come
行くいくto go
見るみるto look
読むよむto read
昼ご飯ひるごはんlunch
食べるたべるto eat
宿題しゅくだいhomework
お母さんおかあさんmother
電話でんわphone
先生せんせいteacher
はなしstory
聞くきくto listen
年間ねんかんyears
日本語にほんごJapanese (language)
勉強べんきょうstudy
面白いおもしろいinteresting
ほんbook
読むよむto read
毎日まいにちevery day
寝る前ねるまえbefore sleeping
自転車じてんしゃbicycle
通勤つうきんcommute
かれhe
お父さんおとうさんfather
開けるあけるto open
今日きょうtoday
食堂しょくどうcafeteria
混んでいるこんでいるcrowded

Vocabulary items are displayed based on the order they appear in the grammar lesson.

View all JLPT N5 Vocabulary Lessons

JLPT N5 vocabulary list

View all JLPT N5 Grammar Lessons

JLPT N5 grammar list

Recommended JLPT N5 Books

Nihongo So-matome: JLPT N5

This book covers everything you need to pass the JLPT N5 in just 6 weeks! (Kanji, Vocabulary, Grammar, Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension)
See price on Amazon

GENKI I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese

This is the best all around book for beginners learning Japanese in English. I used this in my first year studying Japanese. I found it to be far better and easier to use than the many other books I was using.
See price on Amazon

Jlpt N5 Japanese Lauguage Proficiency Test Official Practice Test

This is the official practice test of the JLPT N5. I highly recommend doing at least 1 practice test before taking the real test.
See price on Amazon

Jlpt N5 Japanese Lauguage Proficiency Test Official Practice Test (NEW 2018)

This is the new version of the official JLPT N5 practice test. If you've already taken the old practice test, this is a good option to practice with some different questions.
See price on Amazon


Join our subscription list to get the latest lessons / content