Spontaneous impression of a Japanese person

Past tense because nobody would use a sentence like that in the present tense. They would say “I am reading a book” or “I read books”. “I read book” in the present tense sounds like a caveman / Tarzan.

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@Slysoft Thank you for your answer and for the edit, I guess wouldn’t work here., should have been .

Thank you once more. As you rightly point out, the question mightn’t make much sense but just the act of asking it triggers an answer that unveils a bit of the underlying mind of the person answering it, thus serving its purpouse. It would be a kind of linguistic psychoanalysis. :yum:


This sounds weird to me because you don’t habitually visit Tokyo with your family now. Had you made it “Every Year” (Or every month, etc), then it would make sense for it to be present, since that’s a habit. Like this:


At least to me it sounds off otherwise, and would be better if you had the ている form if you want to use 今 :


Again, I could be wrong, so take my objection with a grain of salt. I’m just going by what sounds natural to me (given my limited experience with the language).

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Since we’re all language pedants here (:sweat_smile:) I’ll just mention that the correct word in this case would be ‘to peer’, which means something like ‘to see into (e.g. a room) or at a distance (e.g. on the horizon)’, and is possibly related to the word ‘to peek’.

The word spelled as ‘pear’ is always a noun, as far as I can think of – being the slightly oblong fruit that grows on trees, similarly to apples – and is pronounced the same as the words ‘pair’ and ‘pare’ (and so rhymes with the similarly-spelled animal called ‘a bear’).

‘A pair’ is the same as ‘a couple of things; i.e. two objects considered together’. And ‘to pare’ is ‘to cut away at’ especially in the sense of removing parts from a thing which are unwanted, e.g. to use a knife to cut and peel off the skin from a fruit.

Also, the noun ‘a peer’ (distinct from ‘to peer’) means ‘someone of a similar status’, such as a classmate in school.

Meanwhile, the homophone ‘a pier’ is a long dock or boardwalk, typically extending from land out over a body of water. You might go fishing on a pier, or someone might passive-aggressively tell you to, “Go take a long walk off of a short pier!”

So, for example:

[P.S.: Good question and follow-up discussion, BTW!]

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One of the particularities of English is the lack of T/V distinction, the usage of the same pronouns and conjugations for both polite and familiar settings. The level of politeness is usually carried through context or other non-grammatical markers. Taken both together, the ambiguity of politeness levels resolves itself naturally, in most cases.

Now, what would naturally come to the mind of a native English speaker when presented with a neutral sentence without any context? For example:

  • Do you want some bread?

  • I sent you an email with all the details.

  • I saw you yesterday at the mall.

  • Your daughter is so nice!

And, associated to this, would this spontaneous understanding be different between a spoken sentence and the very same sentence read in a piece of paper?

[I hope that you see my point, if a language lacks a feature it doesn’t necessarily mean that the native speakers feel obliged to “fill the blanks” in order to understand a sentence. We feel like we need a sentence like “家にいる” to either be present or future, and not both at the same time, because that’s how we think in our native languages, but I’m sure that for a Japanese speaker there’s no such friction. It’s just a non-past, out of context sentence and that’s it.]


Wow! All of that just from a typo :joy:.


Hello! I was curious about this too!! So I asked my Japanese partner about it. So this is his personal opinion.

appear to be future tense to him.

appears to be present tense.

He said the sightseeing could go either way so he wouldn’t be able to make a judgement about it.

also to note, maybe? he put a かな、 after he said all of it, but he’s a very direct Japanese person so the most vague he goes is putting a かな after most sentences.



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Thank you so much for your reply! It kind of sounds familiar :thinking: :yum:

I think I see your point though I can not fully grasp it as my mother tongue doesn’t have a lack of feature similar to Japanese (non-past, non-plural) or English (no T/V distincion, funny name :tv:) that I can think of.

( ところで, mother tongue in Japanese is 母語. Ain’t that somethin’!? Oh boy, how I love this language!)

This somehow reminds me of quantum mechanics: it looks like the possibilities exist in a quantum-like state in the mind of the native speaker, state that only collapses once the context is set.

( またところで, quantum in Japanese is 量子 (baby quantity), a word which I learned from @Jose7822 in the しりとり thread.)

From @superelf94’s answer, it seems that the actual sentence sometimes encapsulates its own context and thus triggers and unconscious collapse of the state. Or maybe the unconcious context is supplied by the person, as can be seen by the answer of Antarcticbear in HiNative, which differs from superelf94’s one.

You were indeed right. IMHO, this is evolving into quite an interesting thread, though in a different path that I first intended. Now we get to :pear: into the minds of the native speakers of two different languages. ¡Dos pájaros de un tiro!


It seems like it might just be up to the person who reads it. My reply is just how one person sees it. I will ask my fellow teacher of English (who is Japanese) about what she says. Her answers and my partner’s answers have differed before.

I assume the HiNative person just didn’t want to generalize the way they see the sentences for everyone. I’ll respond tomorrow evening or on Monday depending on how busy the weekend is


That typo has cost me dearly, hasn’t it? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


You get nothing for a pear… not in this game


I actually almost made the same comparison in my original post! I completely agree.

After all, in a sentence like 来る you miss a lot more than just tense indication, we don’t know the gender of the person that’s talking, whether the thing or person coming will be by foot or by car or if it’s not a physical thing (e.g. spring is coming). We don’t know if the thing is coming to do something and then leave, or if it’s coming and staying.

You may need to know all of this to translate into Russian for instance, which has grammatical gender and doesn’t use the same motion verbs for going by foot and going in a vehicle. Russian also distinguishes “abstract” and “concrete” motion verbs, which basically means that they don’t use the same verb for “going and then leaving again” vs. “going and staying”.

But in English we don’t worry about any of that, so it doesn’t bother us that it’s missing from the Japanese sentence unlike tense that feels like it should be mentioned because that’s what we’re used to.

If I give you a sentence like “I watched a movie yesterday” and ask you “what’s the grammatical gender of the person talking” you may be able to come up with some wild guess, but you probably wouldn’t have really thought about it if I hadn’t asked the question (and therefore precipitated the “state collapse”).


I would say probably the easiest way to solve these is just to pretend you’re Japanese. In order to do that, you need to say to yourself that present and future are 100% the same unless specified with other words. This is easier than it may seem.

*くる - 100% future, as it would logically be 来ている if someone were already somewhere.
*家にいる - 100% the same (future and present), but I would be inclined to think future, as there is no よ or similar structure that would indicate informing.
*あの店でビールを買う - Would assume an habitual action, as it seems weird to inform someone of this future action unless it’s important in some way.
*東京の家族 - Would 100% assume this is future, as referring to your family in Tokyo as being ‘in Tokyo’ when you yourself are already there too seems strange.


Thank you so much.

So that both the structure of the sentence itself (来ている vs くる, particle よ) and the information conveyed affect the person saying it and give away some “hints”, i.e. the sentence carries a basic context within it.

ところで, @Jose7822 you may be almost Japanese after all. :wink:


The good thing about Japanese is that a lot of words don’t really make sense unless the listener already knows what you are talking about. So when you find yourself not understanding something, it’s usually suffice just to ask yourself ‘what is the most obvious here’, because if it wasn’t obvious, the speaker would tell you.

Take this with a grain of salt though. My (Japanese) wife often says things I have no idea about unless I ask her to clarify. This may not be a Japanese problem though, it may be a me problem :sweat_smile:.



Made me smile. I bet it feels nice saying (that) doesn’t it :wink:


Guilty as charged. :sweat_smile:


It also might be the caveman/Tarzan in the past tense though.

They wouldn’t be great English teachers.

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