Present Progressive

Now let’s handle the more useful, but slightly more complicated, present progressive. It’s normally used for things happening right now; things that you would say in English as:

Shimada-san is writing a letter.
Nakamura-san is eating sushi.
The ice is melting.

To make this tense, you need to make bate form of the verb and then add baimasu (or baimasen for negative verbs). The bate form is sort of like the -ing form of a verb in English. In English, that form is called a participle. In Japanese, the bate form is easiest for groups 2 and 3, so let’s start with them.

Group 2: ru dropping verbs

To make the bate form, just drop the baru and add bate. So if you want to answer the question “What are you doing?” with “Eating sushi”, you would form the verb like this:

The result: “(I’m) eating sushi.” is sushiwogotabeteimasuza Because the subject is obvious, you don’t need to say watashiha at the start of the sentence.

Here are some other verbs from group 2.

English Base Verb Sentence
(I’m) dancing. odoru odoteimasuza
(I’m) climbing a tree. noboru kinigonoboteimasuza
(I’m) not collecting books. atsumiru honwogoatsumiteimasenza
(I’m) teaching Japanese. ashieru nihongowogoashieteimasuza

Group 3: suru and kuru

The participle for suru is shite, and the participle for kuru is kite.

Group 1: u-dropping verbs

To forming the progressive for this group, you need to know some extra rules, and they deserve a page of their own—the next page.