The quick or short Language Questions Thread (not grammar)


Oooh thank you! The scene makes more sense now, haha.


Why the heck is “さま” at the end of so many sentences when I read Japanese dictionaries entries? I cannot figure it out.


Did you check a dictionary for 様 itself?



Yes I have, but I don’t understand how that would fit/work.


If you have a definition for an adjective, it’ll be something like “the state of having [x] property” or something, no? That’s a normal definition in English.


逆さま is the example I’d use for this. It means literally “a reversed state.” For something to be upside down, the side that is usually UP must be DOWN. However, unlike the English phrase and translation given on WK, this phrase can any state in which the wrong side is the opposite. This includes:

  1. Top side on the bottom (or bottom on the top).
  2. Left side on the right side (or right side on the left side).
  3. Front side facing backward (or back side facing forward).

It is, quite literally, the “opposite state.” I prefer “inverted” as a translation, and use such when reviewing in WK. Of course, when seeing the term in reality, it’s much easier to use a different translation when context is clearer.


This is a Wanikani question I have. Say I encounter the kanji 水星 and get it wrong since I don’t recognize 星. Now if I encounter the same kanji later in the same review session, or the same kanji in a vocab word, am I supposed to mark it wrong? Once I come across 止まる, didn’t know the reading so I got it wrong. Then I get 止める a few reviews later and marked it right, but I feel dirty about it to this day…


How would you say “I already (did something)”?

Example, “I already paid” or “I already ate”


If someone asks you if you ate, and you ate a little while ago, are done eating, and won’t eat for a while, then


is the most appropriate response.

This might seem a bit perplexing if you haven’t learned all the uses of ている yet, but if you have questions on that we can hash that out.


Not 食べた?

Surely もう食べている = I’m already eating


It’s context dependent.

EDIT: Just as a note, I am aware that it’s more accurate to call the form ending in た the perfective aspect, rather than past tense, but out of convenience I use only past tense here.

Yes, if you are currently eating, もう食べている is appropriate as a response and it means the action of eating is continuous.

The past tense here implies that the action just finished. Like, you put the last piece of food in your mouth less than maybe 2 minutes ago. Really not much time can pass. (This doesn’t apply to all uses of the past tense, but it applies here, for instance if you reference a specific time like 1時に食べた, it has to be past tense, because then you’re talking about the instance of eating and not the state of having eaten)

Maybe somewhat counter-intuitively, the past tense then becomes less appropriate the more time goes on, and もう食べている then changes to mean that the state of having eaten happened and continues to persist into the present.

Another example:

Let’s say a pen falls off a desk. ペンが落ちた is only appropriate for a very short period of time before ペンが落ちている becomes the accurate way to describe it.

If you ever want to emphasize that the action is continuous in one of these seemingly ambiguous situations, ているところ means unambiguously that the action is currently happening.

食べているところ can only mean “I am actively eating.”

ペンが落ちているところ can only mean “the pen is actively falling, it’s in the air and moving toward the ground”


Thanks a lot!


@Leebo explained this greatly on the Japanese end, so I’ll add my English grammar end. :smile:

The problem here is the English lack of expressing state and the Japanese lack of English verb tenses. ている not only expresses the present continuous tense (I am eating) but also the present perfect tense (I have eaten) because, in English, we express the resultant state (outside of stative verbs) using the present perfect tense or perfect participle.

I am eating (食べている) expresses the ongoing state.
I have eaten (もう食べている) expresses the resultant state (an action that already occurred is still effects the present).
I am in a state having eaten (もう食べている) is the literal manner of expressing the present perfect tense.

The same works for past continuous and past perfect.

I was eating (食べていた) expressing the previous ongoing state.
I had eaten (食べていた) expresses the the past resultant state (the effects of an action that had occurred continued until previous time subject to conversation).
I was in a state having eaten (食べていた) is the literal manner of expressing the past perfect tense.

The is also an issue mainly derived in the divide between American/British English as well as former/casual English. Should we want to express that a pen fell off a desk, most properly we should say, “The pen has fallen off of the desk.” However, it is much easier to simply state, “The pen fell off the desk,” because we usually have the context of whether or not its a current or past issue (if you were telling a story vs if you pointed at the pen having fallen).


I think もう食べている sounds strange as a response. Can you give some like initial questions that would have that response be natural to say over just stating it using 過去形?

I also don’t think if you use 過去形 it has to be a very recent action. Even if its like an hour later and you meet a friend and they ask ね、何か食べようか? and you respond with ごめん、もう食べちゃった。seems natural to me.


You could hear 食べた, and you could use it, but it means something closer in time to the eating than 食べている and isn’t really answering the concept of “I have eaten” in the same way.

I’ll also note that adding しまう kind of puts it into a different category as well, so it’s not quite the same thing.


I guess maybe I’m not understanding the English then…

しまう in that case would be presenting the idea that oh i have already eaten so i cant eat now, i am full.

What does the, “I already ate” actually mean in English then if not, “oh I can’t eat now cause i already did and now im full”???

Also what kinda question would you respond to with もう食べている。?


Remember this isn’t “did you eat”, but rather “have you eaten”. It’s your state of having eaten we’re talking about.

I forget if you’re not a native English speaker, so maybe that’s confusing.

「お腹すいた!まだ食べていない?」 I’m hungry, have you eaten yet?
「いいえ、もう食べている」Yes, I’ve eaten.

Note, the English isn’t a literal grammatical translation, but a natural one

Let’s look at another one and switch the た and ている and see what happens.

「昼ご飯もうたべている?」 Have you eaten lunch?
「うん、食べている」 Yes, I have

「昼ご飯もう食べた?」Did you eat lunch?
「うん、食べた」Yes, I did.

So the conversations feel very similar, but they ask different things, one of which we weren’t discussing from the original question in this thread.

Another ている example

「私が帰るまで食べるの待ってて!」 Wait for me to get home to eat!
「もう食べてる。笑」I already ate lol

Also, anyone notice this is the “not grammar” topic, lol.


So let’s say I just returned to the 職員室 after 給食. Because I was only in the 食堂 for about ten minutes, they would ask,「もうたべたのか?」. In reply, I could easily say reply with the same, 「もうたべました」. Given the circumstance, the time traveling across the school is negligible, so the past tense is fine. Let’s translate that to English:

“Did you already eat lunch?” “Yes, I already did.”

I don’t know how you perceive this conversation, but it is strange to me. Why? “Did you already eat lunch” to me sounds like a leading question (either they plan to invite me to lunch or confirm I ate before doing something else.

Now change the wording:

“Have you already eaten lunch?” “Yes, I already have (have already eaten).”
“Have you already finished eating lunch?” “Yes, I already have (have already finished [eating]).”

Depending on your region, are three statements may be able to contain the same meaning. In formal English, however, only the last two methods can perform the resultant state. These last two statements would be translated to 「もうたべているのか」and 「もうたべています」.

As for しまう. This indicates one of two things: either something was done accidentally (not relevant here) or something was done completely. In the case of もうたべちゃった, the focus is on the fact that whatever eaten was eaten completely. It focuses on the object of the verb.

もう食べている, on the other hand, indicates that I have finished eating and have no intention of continuing. It focuses on the topic of the verb.

もう食べた exclusively provides that I ate something with no further context (which is why it is usually assumed to be recent.

The easiest way to solidify this is with are verbs that are naturally stative in Japanese.

For example, 死ぬ and 持つ.

The classic 「お前はもう死んでいる」does not translate as “You are already dying,” but “You are already dead.” You can say 「彼はも死んだ」, but this translates as “He already died.”

持つ is “to hold” as a standard verb but turns into the stative English verb “to have.” when functioning as resultant state.

「彼はそれを持っている」can be BOTH of the following:
“He is holding that.”
“He has that.”

「彼はそれを持った」is “He held that” and CANNOT be “He had that.”

EDIT: Indeed it did turn into a full-blown grammar discussion. Though the initial question, while actually a translation request, is essentially a grammar question at its core (unless they didn’t know how to say “already”).

EDIT EDIT: This paper does a great job explaining it (in my opinion).


I would like to know what your sources are for しまう being the object of the verb only.

you can 100% say 食べちゃった to your friend to say you dont want to eat now, because you already ate, but it not mean you completely cleaned your plate. What was completed was your like need to eat, you have completely satisifed your need so now you dont need to eat again.

After checking with several Japanese people, I think it seems unnatural to use 食べる+いる in this way.

They said that the 食べている、sounds more like 食べ始めて、今もまだ食べているところ

So It might have the meaning of have eaten, it seems just more natural to say, もう食べた。

Another usage of 食べている they mention is habitual usage. 毎日、ご飯を食べている。


Is that something I said?

Well, send your Japanese people to fight my Japanese people, because I checked everything I posted just now with a native before posting it. Some of those little conversation snippets were written by her.

Anyway, there’s lots of sources on this, StackExchange, HiNative etc. ている is ambiguous and context dependent, but it has one meaning with regard to the question asked here.

EDIT: I just reread this and it sounds pretty aggressive, but that wasn’t my intent. Not trying to start a fight.