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The difference between た and ていた

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NoWayYesWay

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I was searching for the example usage for the word 荒れる in dictionary and I saw this sentence.

その船が荒れた海で揺れているのが見えた。

If I changed this sentence to

その船が荒れていた海で揺れているのが見えた。

Will it changes any nuance of this sentence (I think it will), because I think ていた is fit more well here since it states that the sea was going crazy at that moment and also gives a vibe of continuation.

I've had a problem dealing with る and ている so many times and also again with this one so, please help. Thank you in advance.
 

Toritoribe

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Well, actually, it's a bit complicated. The past/past progressive form doesn't always express the tense of the action in a modifying clause. It also can show the temporal order of the two actions; the one in the modifying clause and the one in the main predicate, like the difference between AするときB vs. AしたときB. Please refer to the following thread (a bit long, though).


As for your example sentence, 荒れた海, 荒れる海 and 荒れている海 all work well. One of the reasons is that 揺れている is more likely close to a state, not a punctual action.

荒れていた海 sounds like "the sea had been going crazy before that time, but the sea was not going crazy at that moment", probably because 揺れている is used.
 

NoWayYesWay

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Thank you very much and sorry for the very late reply, but now I come to have one more ていた usage that I don't understand.

03147ACC-2198-46AE-B183-E5300E80A01E.jpeg


In the first panel she said 身長(が)下がってた。after measured her height (school physical test I guess) which I think 身長が下がった。or 身長が下がってる。are making more sense for me.
 

Toritoribe

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The ~ている form expresses a result of change there, and the past tense is used because her height was measured in the past (身長を測った時、身長が下がってた). In other words, if it's said at the moment she realized that her height decreased, the present tense 身長下がってる is used.
 

NoWayYesWay

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I don't know where I got it wrong but from what I understand ていた is used to express the state that was happened and ended in the past but the result is still remain and ている is used to express the present state

このゲームがハマってた。express that he used to addicted to this game in the past.
このゲームがハマってる。express that he is now addicting to this game.

So, for me 身長下がってる。express that her height is now (in the state of) decreased (and now she's going to live with that height) and also in the third panel (lower left panel) she said 少なくとも伸びてはないってことだよね。but not 少なくとも伸びてはなかったってことだよね。even if these two sentences (身長下がってた。and 少なくとも伸びてはないってことだよね。) were said in the same circumstance (after her height was measured)
 

Toritoribe

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Sorry for nitpicking, but it's ゲームはまる.

Your understanding is correct if it's a general description of a current state. The past form expresses that the state is over now, just like 結婚していた means 今は結婚していない. The point is that she is explaining to her friends why she is depressed, and it's not a simple description about her current state.

Think about a situation where you are asked to check if a door is locked or not. After checking it, you would answer 閉まってた even though the door is still locked. This is the same reason as your example. The past form is used because it refers to the moment you checked it.

also in the third panel (lower left panel) she said 少なくとも伸びてはないってことだよね。but not 少なくとも伸びてはなかったってことだよね。even if these two sentences (身長下がってた。and 少なくとも伸びてはないってことだよね。) were said in the same circumstance (after her height was measured)
Because she is talking about her current state in the third panel. It's not that 伸びてはなかった can't be used, but the past form shows that she is talking about the moment when her height was measured, so it's not so appropriate for her purpose in this case.
 

NoWayYesWay

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Sorry for nitpicking, but it's ゲームはまる.
Thank you very much. In fact, I'm glad you did it :)

Think about a situation where you are asked to check if a door is locked or not. After checking it, you would answer 閉まってた even though the door is still locked. This is the same reason as your example. The past form is used because it refers to the moment you checked it.
I think I got it now. So, even if the door is now not locked the answer 閉まってた is still legit right? since that answer is refers to the moment I checked it. If that correct then please let me ask something more.

In this sentence その船が荒れた海で揺れているのが見えた。if I change it to その船が荒れた海で揺れていたのが見えた。will a nuance of the sentence change? I just don't understand why 揺れている is being used while the main verb 見える is in the past form, I understand now that 揺れている and 揺れていた both give almost the same meaning but refer to the different moment (and we don't know if the boat stop shaking yet in both cases)
 

Toritoribe

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I think I got it now. So, even if the door is now not locked the answer 閉まってた is still legit right? since that answer is refers to the moment I checked it.
Exactly! You got it right. For example, if they are requested もし閉まってたら開けといて "if the door is locked, please unlock it", the answer 閉まってた actually means 閉まってたから開けておいた "the door was locked, so I unlocked it", i.e., 今はもう閉まっていない/開いている "the door is now not locked" in this context.

In this sentence その船が荒れた海で揺れているのが見えた。if I change it to その船が荒れた海で揺れていたのが見えた。will a nuance of the sentence change? I just don't understand why 揺れている is being used while the main verb 見える is in the past form, I understand now that 揺れている and 揺れていた both give almost the same meaning but refer to the different moment (and we don't know if the boat stop shaking yet in both cases)
As I wrote "The past/past progressive form doesn't always express the tense of the action in a modifying clause" in my initial reply in this thread, the tense of a modifying clause doesn't have the same function/meaning as the tense of the main predicate like 見えた or 下がってた. 揺れている and 揺れていた are the same in meaning, and both refer to the same moment (when the subject saw the boat) in that sentence. (Well, actually, although 揺れていた is also OK, 揺れている is more common because of 見えた. This verb shows that the speaker's viewpoint is on the moment they saw it, and the boat was shaking at the time. On the other hand, the viewpoint is now (when they are speaking) for 揺れていた, so 揺れていた is also valid.)

Incidentally, please refer to the following example.

来週嵐が来れば、その船が荒れた海で揺れているのが見えるだろう。

揺れていたの can't be used here since it's the future tense, and the movement of the boat is not past even from the viewpoint of utterance. (On the contrary, all of 荒れた海, 荒れる海 and 荒れている海 work well also in this sentence.)
 

NoWayYesWay

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Ahh, is it that (船が)荒れた海で揺れている(のが)is expressing some neutral action (or state) "(the boat) that wavering because of the rough sea" so 揺れている is more natural and this sentence works well no matter what tense 見える is (as shown in both example その船が荒れた海で揺れているのが見えた。and 来週嵐が切れば、その船が荒れた梅で揺れているのが見えるだろう。)if that the case,

その船が荒れた海で揺れているのが見えた。

家から2km離れた駅まで行くのに、最初は分速80mの速さで歩き、...

Is the reason why 荒れた is being used in the first sentence and 離れた is being used in the second sentence are the same? if yes, why?
 

Toritoribe

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Sorry for the rate reply.
is it that (船が)荒れた海で揺れている(のが)is expressing some neutral action (or state) "(the boat) that wavering because of the rough sea" so 揺れている is more natural and this sentence works well no matter what tense 見える is
That's right. 揺れている doesn't express the present progressive tense. It's the state/action of the boat when the subject sees it.

Is the reason why 荒れた is being used in the first sentence and 離れた is being used in the second sentence are the same?
They are not the same. Unlike 荒れる, 離れる can't be used there, since 離れた is a state.
cf.
死ぬ人 vs. 死んだ人/死んでいる人
結婚する人 vs. 結婚した人/結婚している人
 
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