Confusion about the tenses


Please clarify more on the Japanese tenses as some confusion persists, for example, if I say, "we read" to mention that the action is in present, we say it as "わたしたちは よみます"。 Then again, if I want to say "We read", that is reading is already done in the past then it will be "わたしたちは よみました". A little confusing as to which one would be better to use and when ? Similarly, I wonder how to mention, if I have to say "We could read", if the action is pointing to an act in the past -> may be "わたしたちは よめました" or わたしたちは よみました" Which one is correct ? This is because "We can read" is written as "わたしたちは よめます", so it should be わたしたちは よめました Further, if I have to say that "We will be reading" or "We would read", then what would be the correct way to put it ?


Japanese doesn't have such a complex tense structure as English. It would be easier to understand if you just think that there are 3 tenses: past, present and future. The ending -mashita is the past form of -masu, always. Adding -masu to the stem form of a verb turns it into a potential verb, so "we could read" would be: watashitachi wa yomemashita, as yome is the stem of the verb yomu. The future forms are the same as the present forms of the verbs. The context helps you determine whether the speaker is talking about the present or future. For example, "we will be reading" - in Japanese you need to add a time structure: watashitachi wa + time structure (i.e. juunenkan ni) + yonde imasu. Note: "te" form + iru/imasu gives the verb a continuous form as in will be reading/have been reading/am reading.


Thanks, that makes it a lot easier to understand!


Shivam san, To use your example of "読む" (to read): 読みます- present simple form 読んでいます- present continuous/ -ing form 読みました - past form 読めます- ability/ can read. You use the present simple form (ますform) to talk about an action you do frequently. E.g. 彼女は毎日本を読みます。 She reads every day. You would usually use the て+います to talk about something that you're currently reading (haven't finished or to describe what someone is doing right now). A: あれ、まいこさんは? B:まいこさんは 今 雑誌(ざっし)を読んでいます。 A: Oh? Where is Maiko? B: Maiko is reading a magazine at the moment. You use 読みました(past tense) to talk about a book you've just finished. A: 最近面白い本を読みましたか? A: Have you read an interesting book lately? And finally, you use the 読めます form to describe your ability to read. A: あなたは漢字が読めますか。 A: Can you read Chinese characters?

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