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Why is ていた form used to talk about present states?

zuotengdazuo

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Thank you. Good night.
Again, isn't it just an example of AときB where B is a state (e.g. 家に着いたとき、弟はテレビを観ていた。)?
But this example 家に着いたとき、弟はテレビを観ていた。is 発見, right? And you said the bold part in 十香が呼ぶと、影になっていた廊下の先から、ゆっくりとした足音が響いてきた。and 瞬間ーーいつの間にやら開放感に溢れていた教室の外から、折紙が現れる。are the same usage as the watching TV example, if I understand correctly. But now you say they are not 発見.:unsure:
(You previously said 駅前には今もビルが建っていた。is 発見)
Do I misunderstand 発見 or something else?
 

bentenmusume

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It seems to me that you are needlessly overcomplicating things.

Honestly, I would suggest that you try to get out of this habit of feeling like you need to analyze every single -ていた form verb you encounter and figure out exactly which function ("background", "発見", etc.) it is, and rather just understand it as the past continuous form, which can have different (but related) nuances depending upon the context of the sentence, the nature of the verb, etc. etc.

I don't normally like to make comparisons with English, but I feel compelled to in this case because you seem to be ascribing some arcane, mysterious properties to the -ていた form when it shouldn't really be all that confusing.

Take 家に着いたとき、弟はテレビを観ていた。
Is it not possible to understand this simply as "When I arrived home, my brother was watching TV."? Perhaps there is a nuance of "discovery", but a large part of that comes from the context of the sentence. (The speaker has just arrived, and is thus observing what is going on at home for the first time in that moment.)

With 十香が呼ぶと、影になっていた廊下の先から、ゆっくりとした足音が響いてきた, I don't know why you feel a need to interpret that as 発見, as the speaker is not necessarily observing the darkness of the hallway for the first time in that moment.

I couldn't find the original context for 駅前には今もビルが建っていた, but if the speaker is coming upon the building now and first taking notice of/expressing surprise at the building being there, then it just makes logical sense to interpret it as 発見. Meanwhile, you could conceivably get, at the beginning of a novel, something like:
駅前には、大きなビルが建っていました。そのビルには・・・
In this case, it would just be an example of the narrative past. "A large building stood (lit. "was standing") in front of the station. In that building..."

The point is that these are all extensions of the basic function/meaning of the -ていた form, not specific and arcane roles that are completely different from each other and therefore must be puzzled out and identified every single time you encounter a verb in this form.

There are, of course, times when Japanese verbs can function in ways that native English speakers wouldn't expect them to, but honestly, I don't feel like any of your examples fall into that category. If even relatively straightforward instances of the -ていた form are causing such confusion or frustration, I think you need to take a step back and find a way to simplify your thought process about all this.
 

Toritoribe

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But this example 家に着いたとき、弟はテレビを観ていた。is 発見, right?
No. Think about a case, for example, 家に着いたとき、弟はテレビを観ていた。だが、私はすぐに自分の部屋に入ったので、弟が家にいることさえ知らなかった。. The speaker even didn't realize that his/her brother was at home, i.e., he/she didn't know his/her brother was watching TV at the time. Thus, 観ていた can't be 発見 here, since it's just a description of a past event. Indeed 観ていた could have a nuance of 発見, as bentenmusume-san pointed out, but it totally depends on the context after all, and the nuance is not provided by ~ていた form (well, at least not only by it).

Just out of curiosity, do you think that 到着していた is also 発見 in 荷物が届いたとき、すでに倉庫に到着していた田中係長は手際よく荷物を運び入れた。?
 

zuotengdazuo

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Thank you both. Yes, you are right. I unnecessarily complicated the issue, sorry.
1. 十香が呼ぶと、影になっていた廊下の先から、ゆっくりとした足音が響いてきた。
2. 瞬間ーーいつの間にやら開放感に溢れていた教室の外から、折紙が現れる。
So for 1 and 2 (or other instances of “~ていた+noun”), I just need to think of the underlined parts as past perfect tense or 大過去 (the action in the ていた form had happened before another past action and the state resulted from the action in 大過去 continues (or may be over depending on the context)), which is the normal function of ~ていた, right?
Just out of curiosity, do you think that 到着していた is also 発見 in 荷物が届いたとき、すでに倉庫に到着していた田中係長は手際よく荷物を運び入れた。?
I don’t think it can be 発見 because the subject is 荷物, not a person. Right?
 

Toritoribe

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So for 1 and 2 (or other instances of “~ていた+noun”), I just need to think of the underlined parts as past perfect tense or 大過去 (the action in the ていた form had happened before another past action and the state resulted from the action in 大過去 continues (or may be over depending on the context)), which is the normal function of ~ていた, right?
Yes, but other than that, the past progressive tense is also possible.
e.g.
猟犬は、目の前を走っていたウサギを追いかけ続けた。
(走っている or 走る also work well instead of 走っていた.)

I don’t think it can be 発見 because the subject is 荷物, not a person. Right?
Then, how about the following ones?

雨が降り始めたとき、傘を忘れていたのに気づいた。
会社に着いたとき、すでに倉庫に到着していた田中係長が手際よく荷物を運び入れていた。

"The subject is not a person" can be a key?
 

zuotengdazuo

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Thanks again.

Then, how about the following ones?

雨が降り始めたとき、傘を忘れていたのに気づいた。
会社に着いたとき、すでに倉庫に到着していた田中係長が手際よく荷物を運び入れていた。
I think 傘を忘れていた is 発見 but the two ~ていたs in the second sentence are not. Right?
"The subject is not a person" can be a key?
If "The subject is not a person" is not a key, what do you think is the key for 発見?
So for 1 and 2 (or other instances of “~ていた+noun”), I just need to think of the underlined parts as past perfect tense or 大過去 (the action in the ていた form had happened before another past action and the state resulted from the action in 大過去 continues (or may be over depending on the context)), which is the normal function of ~ていた, right?
Yes, but other than that, the past progressive tense is also possible.
And does the above holds true for the ~ていた at the end of a sentence in the narrative part in novel? I mean the ~ていた at the end of a sentence in the narrative part in novel is just either 大過去 (e.g. 家に着くと、窓が開いていた) or past progressive tense, right?
 

Toritoribe

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I think 傘を忘れていた is 発見 but the two ~ていたs in the second sentence are not. Right?
Yes, that's my intention.

If "The subject is not a person" is not a key, what do you think is the key for 発見?
I already wrote it.
it totally depends on the context after all

And does the above holds true for the ~ていた at the end of a sentence in the narrative part in novel? I mean the ~ていた at the end of a sentence in the narrative part in novel is just either 大過去 (e.g. 家に着くと、窓が開いていた) or past progressive tense, right?
It can be "present state" or "present progressive tense". As we have been talking about repeatedly so far, the past form is commonly used to descrive "the present event" in narrative part of novel (narrative past), as opposed to "historical present", no?
 

zuotengdazuo

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Thank you. Are you saying that ~ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel can be not only 大過去 (e.g. 家に着くと、窓が開いていた) or past progressive tense, but also "present state" or "present progressive tense" (it can be any of the four, depending on the context)?

But it seems all the examples of this kind of ~ていた I have asked about in different threads are referring to the past, not present?
For example, do you think 波紋ができてい and まるでゴーストタウンのようになっていた in the thread below are present state?
 

Toritoribe

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Are you saying that ~ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel can be not only 大過去 (e.g. 家に着くと、窓が開いていた) or past progressive tense, but also "present state" or "present progressive tense" (it can be any of the four, depending on the context)?
Yes.

But it seems all the examples of this kind of ~ていた I have asked about in different threads are referring to the past, not present?
For example, do you think 波紋ができてい and まるでゴーストタウンのようになっていた in the thread below are present state?
Those are both "narrative past". The present event/scene is described in the past form. If those are 士道's spoken words, it should まるでゴーストタウンみたいになってる! and 波紋ができてる!, respectively, and まるでゴーストタウンみたいになってた! and 波紋ができてた! don't work well (波紋ができた! is OK as discover or completion, though).
 

zuotengdazuo

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Thank you very much.
Those are both "narrative past". The present event/scene is described in the past form. If those are 士道's spoken words, it should まるでゴーストタウンみたいになってる! and 波紋ができてる!, respectively, and まるでゴーストタウンみたいになってた! and 波紋ができてた! don't work well (波紋ができた! is OK as discover or completion, though).
You seem to say those two sentences are examples of the ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel referring to “present state”. So do you have any examples of ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel referring to “present progressive tense”?
And when we come across a ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel, how do we tell if it is 大過去 (e.g. 家に着くと、窓が開いていた), past progressive tense, present state or present progressive tense? (Are there any other clues than context?)
And when ていた is used in a relative clause modifying a noun, why can’t it be present state or present progressive tense?
 

Toritoribe

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You seem to say those two sentences are examples of the ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel referring to “present state”.
That's what I meant.

So do you have any examples of ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel referring to “present progressive tense”?
ティーカップを回収していた。

You would be able to find countless examples in your books, I believe.

And when we come across a ていた at the end of sentence in narrative part of novel, how do we tell if it is 大過去 (e.g. 家に着くと、窓が開いていた), past progressive tense, present state or present progressive tense? (Are there any other clues than context?)
No, I don't think so. Isn't the context enough? How do you do when reading English books? Do you read with checking the tense of each sentence?

And when ていた is used in a relative clause modifying a noun, why can’t it be present state or present progressive tense?
In the sentence 十香が呼ぶと、影になっていた廊下の先から、ゆっくりとした足音が響いてきた。, isn't 影になっていた a present state?
 

zuotengdazuo

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Thank you again.
No, I don't think so. Isn't the context enough? How do you do when reading English books? Do you read with checking the tense of each sentence?
No, I don’t check the tense of each sentence. OK. I see your point.
In the sentence 十香が呼ぶと、影になっていた廊下の先から、ゆっくりとした足音が響いてきた。, isn't 影になっていた a present state?
OK. I see what you mean now. But according to post #55 and 54, you seem to agree that when ていた is used in a relative clause modifying a noun, the ~ていた can only be 大過去 or past progressive tense?
So I thought 大過去, past progressive tense, present state or present progressive tense were four different things.
So are you also suggesting that “~ていた+noun” can also be present progressive tense? If so, do you have any examples? (I may have come across some examples in my reading but I’m just not aware that they are present progressive tense.)
 

bentenmusume

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Sigh. You're still overcomplicating this.

To reiterate what I've already said, you need to stop thinking of all these different of the -ていた form as completely different distinct things that need to be puzzled out each and every time, and find a way to realize that they are all related.

The larger point is that the "past" tense in a novel, as a general rule, can be actual past, or it can be "narrative" past, where the past tense is used to narrate events that are, technically going on in the "current" timeline of the narration.

Honestly, I think you're confusing yourself unnecessarily by thinking that -ていた "can mean" or "is used for" present states or present progressive. It's still a past form, it's just that the past form is being used to narrate the "present" (i.e. current) timeline of a story, just like it commonly is in English.

As for "state" versus "progressive", surely you understand that this entirely depends on the nature of the verb, yes?

If the very first sentence of a novel is:
角を曲がって駅前に出ると、そこには大きなビルが建っていた。
...then that's a state, because 建つ is a stative/instantaneous verb. (i.e. 建っている can only mean "is standing [i.e. was built and is now in that state]", not "is in the process of being bulit")
If the first sentence is:
家に着いたとき、弟はテレビを観ていた。
...then that's progressive, because 観る is a durative/continuous verb (i.e. 観ている/観ていた here means "is/was watching")

You don't (or at least, you shouldn't) have to worry/stress out about whether it is "present" or "past" any more than you would if the first sentence of an English novel was:

I turned the corner and came out in front of the station, and a large building was standing here.
(or)
When I arrived at home, my brother was watching television.

If you saw these sentences in an English novel, would you be pulling your hair out thinking, "Oh no! Is this 'was standing' and 'was watching' present state, present progressive, past state, or past progressive?" Or would you be able to process it, simply and easily, as a story being narrated in the past tense? I highly, highly suspect it would be the latter.

Again, I'm not saying that Japanese verb tenses always function entirely like English. (The example from a while back with ゴーストタウンになっていた vs. -になった, for example, is an important distinction that can be difficult for second-language learners to grasp.) But you've seen and asked about countless examples of -ていた and "narrative past" at this point, many of which are (or should be) fairly straightforward. The only way you're going to overcome this mental block about -ていた and narrative past is by finding a way to abstract this concept in your mind and realize that it's not nearly as complicated as you're making it out to be.
 
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zuotengdazuo

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Thank you, benten-san. I get your idea.
Sigh. You're still overcomplicating this.
Sorry again. Actually the reason why I tried to apply the idea “background” to ~ていた in the first place is to simplify the issue, not to complicate it.
 

zuotengdazuo

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For instance, 時間を持て余す is not "to have much time". It more likely refers to a state "not to know how/for what purpose to use time". Thus, in your example, the subject didn't know how/for what purpose to use his strength/energy, but now the state is over, i.e., he knows how/for what purpose to use it.
Similarly, although the nuances are different, it works well all for 持て余していた力, 持て余している力, 持て余した力 or 持て余す力. However, 陽菜さんにもらう勇気 doesn't since it's used only for future.
Hi. I just have a small question about what was said as quoted above. You said the state "not to know how/for what purpose to use time" is over now. So isn’t 持て余していた力 the only correct version there? So why are 持て余している力, 持て余した力 or 持て余す力 also correct in that context?:unsure:
 
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Toritoribe

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As I wrote, the nuances are different. The subject has just realized how to use it right now, and he still has the power he wants to use fully. That's why 持て余している力 can work. The same goes with 持て余した力 vs. 持て余す力.
 

zuotengdazuo

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Thank you for the response.
The subject has just realized how to use it right now, and he still has the power he wants to use fully.
Yes, I know that. But doesn’t 持て余す mean “he doesn’t know what to do with excessive power”? If 持て余している力 is used, doesn’t that mean “he still doesn’t know what to do with excessive power” (but he knows now, actually)?
 

Toritoribe

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That difference is what I meant by "nuance".
 

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