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Do you study Japanese now?

hirashin

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Hello, native English speakers,
I think you can say (a1) and (a2), but how about (b1) and (b2)? Do you ever use them?
(a1) Are you studying Japanese now?
(a2) Is Tom studying Japanese now?
(b1) Do you study Japanese now?
(b2) Does Tom study Japanese now?

Hirashin
 
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TGI-ECT

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This is only a matter of the tense being used in the conversation. All four of those questions could be quite correct, but they would be used if the context of a given conversation matched the tense of the question. (Except for the use of the pronoun and proper noun.)

Now, if I were to actually be conducting a lecture here I would not provide the context, I would ask you to do that so I could check to see if you really understand my answer.

If you wish to provide the context for each of those four questions, hirashin, I will be around later to check to see if you understand my answer and wanted to turn this into a sort of finite Net lecture.

If you don't wish to do so, maybe somebody else would like to try.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, TGI-ECT.

A native speaker says both "Are you studying Japanese now?" and "Do you study Japanese now?" are the same. What do you think? Does it depend on the context? If you see someone holding a book about Japanese, which should be used?
 

Buntaro

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A native speaker says both "Are you studying Japanese now?" and "Do you study Japanese now?" are the same.
In my opinion, your friend is wrong.

Does it depend on the context?
No.

If you see someone holding a book about Japanese, which should be used?
Only the first one.

But I am wondering if this is okay in British English. Let me check. Unfortunately, we can't really say something is wrong until we have verified it is wrong in both British English and American English. (I have mistakenly jumped to this conclusion many times.)

Hirashin, is your friend British or American?
 
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TGI-ECT

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Okey-dokey, this is getting interesting.

So a person is holding a book. But what is the reason for the exchange between that person holding the book and the other individual? That is your context.

Examples:

Book Holder: 'I found a book I used to use to study Japanese.'
Other; 'Are you studying Japanese now? / Do you study Japanese now?' - - - (Both would be just fine, as far as I can understand what my brain is seeing as I type this.)

Book Holder: '? ? ?' - - - (I sincerely apologize! I can't seem to come up with a situation where the 'ing' form alone would be an answer.)

I am going to post this, even though I have obviously messed up here. Maybe it is too early or I need more coffee.
 

TGI-ECT

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Okey-dokey, hirashin, I am sorry I sort of left you in the lurch here yesterday. I caught myself off-guard, as well. Frankly, with my medical condition being what it is I suppose it is sometimes the horrid medicines I have to take that cause me to get lost at times. Or I simply didn't think about my post properly before I started it.

By the way, I still have to give consideration to more specific tense related situations to be able to provide a proper answer, but there is something else that has come to mind.

Buntaro .made a reference to the language used in different nations and that is valid in some respects, but then I found many years ago that them folks in Boston seemed to be speaking English like the English spoke a hundred years before those years I had to spend in Boston, and over the river.

My point is that even within a nation itself there can be problems of a sort of language used. While Buntaro .is correct in giving thought to that in a teaching situation, such as this, there should also be the thought expressed not to get too hung up on that.

What would be a better point is what purpose you have, hirashin, in asking your question?

Just for everyday language? Or something more specific?

The reason why that could be important to ascertain is because if you have something other than simply day-to-day and person-to-person communications in mind, then possibly we will be heading down the path of formal language usage and that path is strewn with potholes. Just ask any professional script writer in Hollywood and they'll inform you that specifics can sink a writer, if they don't get it right.

Now, if you are simply asking for the purpose of day-to-day style communications, that is a very loose situation. And I am afraid I sense it has been getting looser since about 10 or so years back when this Internet really started to take off because it seems the average native speaker of English has started to lose touch with proper grammar and it also seems there is more and more leniency toward the use of non-standard English. "Non-standard" meaning bad grammar.

If that is the case --- day-to-day / person-to-person / not so strict --- then your two questions inasmuch as tense is concerned aren't a matter to be too concerned about. I already made note of the pronoun and proper noun, though.

So what I have now provided is an excellent post for you to study all sorts of weird language/vocabulary I have used and that gives me time to give other matters related to your question more thought.

I also suspect that we will now draw in some other folks that might have some thoughts about this idea of day-to-day communications not having to adhere to so very strict guidelines, IF your target is to simply be understood.

An illustration, if I may: I'd bet that when a group of English teachers leave their classrooms and go have a coffee break and speak amongst themselves you are going to hear some very not-so-strict language usage during that chit-chat. In fact, it is usually the individuals that use super-proper language that stick out and eventually are sort of worried about as to whether they are "normal".

In a loose day-to-day / person-to-person / small group situations the grammar can get loose, but you can still be easily understood, if you are not using a dialect the others can't understand. So when you ask usage questions we, that might want to try and help, might should ask the reason for the question(s).

If you are studying for a test, that's a whole different ballgame. And that use of "ballgame" could be an interesting discussion when we think of this nation or that nation and so on.

Oh, by the way, Buntaro, how comes you be leaving them Down Under folks out of your thinking? That fancy actor fella that caused all that trouble for them New York gangsters might be unhappy about that. I wonder if we could get him to join our community.
 
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bentenmusume

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What would be a better point is what purpose you have, hirashin, in asking your question?
Hirashin-san has explained this before, but allow me to clarify on his behalf in case you aren't familiar with his past threads.

Anyhow, Hirashin-san is an English teacher teaching English to Japanese students at a Japanese school. His questions are primarily asked in the context of what would be appropriate or inappropriate to teach his students, or mark correct/incorrect on assignments, tests, etc. (That is to say, his primary goal is not necessarily to improve his own English fluency in everyday conversation.)

Because of this, overwhelmingly in-depth discussions about what would be natural or unnatural in various contexts in everyday conversation among native speakers, and so forth, are probably (not trying to speak for him) beyond the scope of what he's looking for.

Believe me, I realize that these distinctions can get very complex, but trying to simplify things and focusing the discussion on what is or isn't "correct" English (and yes, I understand sometimes this can depend on context) would probably be more helpful to him. (Sorry, not trying to be rude, just clarifying.)
 

TGI-ECT

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Uh oh, I had not properly briefed myself on those very good points about his purpose. Thank you.

BUT, I am going to propose that a good teacher never stops studying to perfect their own grasp of the subject they are teaching, no matter what that subject might be.

I am sort of hoping there that hirashin .wishes to improve and improve and then be able to teach some native speakers of English what is right and/or wrong.

Language teaching is a tricky-tricky-tricky business, no matter which language one may be teaching.

And it is probably obvious from that thought above that I used to teach teachers. One has to be a very strange sort to hold down that job for any length of time and luckily stay sane.

Of course, the truth is, I am not so sure I stayed sane. In fact, I went off and worked for the government for a spell and that could have pushed me over the edge even further.

Sorry, hirashin, for those unnecessary extras I placed into my post.

But I do hope you are a true sort of teacher and never stop studying.

And a thank you to you, jt_.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Buntaro, TGI-ECT and jt_. I've always been grateful to all the kind people here for teaching me and giving me useful information about English. (I hope this makes sense. If not, please correct my sentence)
 

hirashin

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But I am wondering if this is okay in British English. Let me check. Unfortunately, we can't really say something is wrong until we have verified it is wrong in both British English and American English. (I have mistakenly jumped to this conclusion many times.)

Hirashin, is your friend British or American?
I'm sorry I haven't answered your question yet.
Yes, he is British.

And I still don't get it.
Is it that in American English you never ask, "Do you study Japanese now"?
 

bentenmusume

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And I still don't get it.
Is it that in American English you never ask, "Do you study Japanese now"?
There are some good answers related to this in the other related thread (Does he swim VS Is he swimming), so I'll refrain from commenting here, but I just wanted to add the following:

Please try to keep in mind that even within "American English", there are multiple regional dialects, as well as just personal speech quirks and individual speaking styles, as well as differences between what different native speakers perceive as natural in different contexts.

Therefore, when you find native speakers disagreeing on something or unable to give a 100%, black-and-white, definitive answer, it's probably best to interpret it as a sign that the expression falls within something of a grey area. I understand that this can be frustrating (especially from your perspective as a teacher, since you have to make decisions on whether or not to teach something as proper English, whether to mark something as wrong or right, etc.), but sometimes language can be more complicated than that.

Anyway, hopefully joadbresさん and Buntaroさん's posts in the other thread will be enlightening.
 

hirashin

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Thank you, jt_ for sharing your view about language, which is based on keen insight. (I hope I can make sense. If not, someone please correct it.)

Are you a teacher, jt_ san ?
 

bentenmusume

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Hi, hirashinさん, and thank you for your kind response.

Your English is fine and the meaning is perfectly understandable. As a native speaker, I'd probably just say something like: "Thank you for the keen insight." or "Thanks for sharing your thoughts on language. I found it very insightful." or the like. But again, there's nothing particularly ungrammatical or confusing about the way you chose to phrase it.

Anyhow, no, I'm not a teacher (I'm a freelance translator and writer), but I did teach college-level Japanese classes as a graduate assistant back when I was in graduate school about fifteen years ago. Even though I don't do it regularly or as a profession anymore, I enjoyed teaching, and that's probably why I come back to places like this to post on the Learning Japanese forums.
 

hirashin

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Thank you, jt_ san. I'm glad you are here. I hope you will continue to help me when you have time.
 
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