Context sentence: 入っています vs あります

I’m studying the WaniKani context sentences. One for 八つ is


The verb 入っています made me initially think to translate this as “Eight potatoes are going in the bag.” The given translation on WaniKani is “There are eight potatoes in the bag.” Wouldn’t that be better translated as 「ふくろには、じゃがいもが八つあります。」?

In this example, ~ている indicates the state the potatoes exist in. Which is to say, 入る is an instantaneous verb that in one moment causes a change of state from “not in the bag” to “in the bag”. So ~ている indicates not the continuing action of the verb being done, but rather the continued state of the verb having been completed.

You could just say あります, but 入っています conveys a subtext that they’re existing in a bag because someone put them there, while あります just says they’re existing there with no particular meaning.


Thank you Belthazar. I think I understand.

Is this phenomenon a specific property of certain verbs? That is, some verbs (like する I guess?) have te-iru forms meaning that the action is ongoing, whereas other verbs have te-iru forms meaning that the result of the action is persisting (like 入る)? Does this have anything to do with the transitivity of the verb?

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Aye, some verbs are continuous, and some verbs are instantaneous, though it’s not related to whether or not they’re する verbs. Transitivitiy is not related either - it’s simply what the verbs are.

For example, 結婚する is instantaneous, while 集中する is continuous. 止まる is instantaneous, 走る is continuous.

Note also that it’s not always the same as English. For example, “to know” is continuous - I have learnt a piece of information and I still retain it. However, 知る is instantaneous - it refers to the actual moment of gaining a new piece of information.


There’s no direct relation between a verb being punctual, stative, durative, etc. and its transitivity.


Are there any resources to look up whether is verb is commonly continuous or instantaneous?

I can’t seem to find one, though perhaps my search fu is just weak. It’s largely a matter of common sense, I think - i.e. stuff like eating, reading, walking take time, stuff like opening a door, breaking, dying all happen in an instant. The main caveat being there’s a handful of verbs that are continouous in English but instantaneous in Japanese, like know, understand, get angry.

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