Studies in the Japanese Language
Online ISSN : 2189-5732
Print ISSN : 1349-5119
Meaning and Function of Non-Finite Forms of Verbs in Durative Aspect: Comparing Shiteite and Shiteori Forms
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2016 Volume 12 Issue 1 Pages 18-34


There are two types of non-finite forms of verbs in the durative aspect in Japanese, namely, shiteite and shiteori. These are marked forms as opposed to the shite and shi form respectively. This paper examines the grammatical properties of these two similar forms by investigating examples of usage in texts.

Both these forms indicate the simultaneity of two or more events in mutual relation with the aspect of a finite verbal predicate to which non-finite forms are subordinate.

There is a certain sentence pattern in which only the shiteite form can be used. The syntactic features of this type of sentence are as follows: the finite predicate has a perfective aspect, the subject of two verbs is the same, and the shiteite form indicates an action or state as a situation where the main event occurs incidentally (but is not defined as a conditional meaning).

This fact suggests that the two forms have distinguishable functions as a component of a sentence. The shiteori form is used more frequently to express the paratactic relation of two events as a second verbal predicate. The shiteite form is used to express a subsidiary relation to the finite verbal predicate, indicating a subordinate event circumstantial to the occurrence of the main event, although it can also be used in a paratactic structure.

This subsidiary function of the shiteite form in a sentence is different from that of the shite form, which is a more basic form of the non-finite forms of verbs. The shite form can be used to modify the main event by indicating the manner of action, losing its aspectual meaning as an independent event; however, the shiteite form cannot play this role because it has an independent aspectual meaning, although both shiteite and shite act as a subsidiary component in the sentence.

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