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  5. "おてあらいに行きます。"


Translation:I am going to the restroom.

June 21, 2017





I answered "I will go to the bathroom" and i believe it should be accepted. Am I wrong?


I don't believe so; that should be correct


Is the Japanese sentence in the present progressive form? How exactly does the progressive form work in Japanese, anyway?


The translation is wrong it isn't in the present progressive tense in Japanese. Just the present tense


I think the translation is actually correct here. -ます form is used to denote general present tense (usually referring to habitual actions) or future tense. I would argue that "be [verb]ing" is often used to show intent for future actions, so it should be perfectly acceptable.

Present progressive tense in Japanese generally uses the verb form -ています/-ている, although casual speech often drops the い


Present progressive tense indicates a continuous action, whereas simlle present tense captures a moment of time.

They used present tense in the question, which translates to "I go to the bathroom," which carries the intent to go - a moment of time - but not the ACT of physically moving.

However, their translation is in present progressive "I am going to the bathroom," which indicates the continuous act and movement within time.

So, their translation for the question is incorrect.


I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. The way you've presented your argument feels like an oversimplification to me, from a translation standpoint and a grammatical standpoint.

First of all, it's important to realize that, while we call -ます "simple present" form and -ている "present progressive" form, their functions don't map exactly to English "simple present" tense and "present progressive" tense. So your failure to indicate, for example, "They used present tense in the [Japanese] question", makes me think you haven't fully grasped this concept.

I hope you will excuse a more advanced example to help me illustrate this: The "present progressive" form - ている can also be used when constructing English "present perfect" tense translations.

・今、日本語の勉強をしています ("Now, I am studying Japanese." - present progressive tense)

・2007年から、日本語の勉強をしています ("I have studied Japanese since 2007." - present perfect tense)

・長い間、日本語の勉強をしています ("I have been studying Japanese for a long time." - present perfect continuous tense)

Thus, it is incorrect to assert that, because the Japanese sentence uses present tense, the English translation must also be in present tense.

Further, your definitions and examples of "simple present" and "present progressive" tenses don't sit well with me, an English native speaker (and for a time, an English teacher in Japan, albiet an assistant teacher f(^_^;).

"Simple present" tense doesn't describe intent, as you mentioned, and does describe actions, specifically habitual/recurring actions. In a sense, rather than capturing "a moment of time", I would say that it is irrespective or outside of time. "The sun rises in the east." "Cake tastes good." "I go to the bathroom." In these statements, time is irrelevant; the fact that something occurs is important.

On the other hand, time is important for "present progressive" tense. It describes actions which are currently occurring, but this is regardless of whether they are continuous or not. We have "present perfect (continuous)" tense in English to indicate the continuous nature of an action. Consider the following:

・It is starting. (Present progressive - we are concerned with what is happening now)

・It has started. (Present perfect - we are concerned with the current result of something that happened in the past)

・It has been starting. (Present perfect continuous - we are concerned with something that happened in the past and is still happening.)

Okay, so at this point, you're probably thinking "Jeez what a long reply" (and you'd be right, sorry about that), but also "okay, present progressive is for currently occurring actions like "I am going to the bathroom" but the Japanese sentence doesn't describe that, so you're wrong anyway" (and you'd be premature to think I'm finished, sorry about that).

This is the reason for my song and dance about "form" versus "tense" earlier. I think this is the main oversimplification in your reply; you equate "go" (or the base verb) with "simple present tense" and "am going" (or is/am verb-ing) with "present progressive tense". While that can be, and most commonly is, the case, using "simple present form" and "present progressive form" for different tenses is also very common practice in English.

What I was trying to say in my earlier comment is that, in English, "present progressive form" is often used to denote "future tense", as in the following example: I have to end my response here because I'm waking up early tomorrow.


While I don't disagree with the semantics, I don't think such an argument is valid given the beginner nature of this course. It's true that you don't always need to match the tense to match the meaning, but at this level I think recognizing what tense is being used and matching that is more important since this course is designed for beginners who are just learning how to conjugate various tenses.

Even if one of the two sentences comes out strange, I think it's preferable to use the same tense to avoid unnecessary confusion and to reinforce conjugation structure. I think it's better to leave nuance out of what is essentially an introductory class.


@PStrotman I hear where you're coming from, and believe me, I know the example I gave is outside the scope of this course.

I'm not so much arguing for Duo's translation (おてあらいに行きます = "I am going to the restroom"), as much as I am arguing against the assertion that it is an incorrect translation. I don't claim to be an expert at language education (or any education, for that matter), but personally, I don't think compromising accuracy to this degree for simplicity's sake is the best approach in the long run, especially when OP wants to know "How exactly does the progressive form work in Japanese, anyway?"


Josh I love the long reply.

Not only did I have the same critic and made the same mistake you replying to.

But being long out of school those linguistic terminology used to frighten me. Pretty cool how you have cut it down.

Thanks a lot for the time it took. Even the emoji is pretty cool.


The "-masu" form of a verb can indicate both present and future tense. 行きます (ikimasu) can carry the meaning of "I go" or "I am going to go"/"I will go".

In this case, "I am going to the restroom" is the shortened version of "I am going to go to the restroom". Your friend might stand up and say おてあらいに行きます (otearai ni ikimasu). They haven't left the room yet to go, but they are telling you where they will be going.




The "o" in お手洗い is usually just written in kana.


Is otearai more polite than toire?


That's an interesting question. I'm not a native speaker so I couldn't tell you conclusively, but as far as I know, トイレ sounds a little more childish or uncouth, rather than being less polite.

It's an interesting dynamic though, because generally, using 外来語 gairaigo or foreign words tends to be seen as fashionable, but using お with a predominantly kanji word is also somewhat dignified or fancy. I'm interested to see which one wins out.


In speech, おてあらい is preferred. In writing, トイレ is more common. Signs often say トイレ.


Does トイレ (toire) really sound childish? I've never gotten that impression. お手洗い (otearai) is definitely more polite.


Hmm, yeah "childish" definitely isn't the right word. As @Jesse319162 put it, "unpolished" is probably more apt. Though I did try to convey that idea by saying "a little more childish". As in it isn't outright childish, just slightly more so than お手洗い.


I imagine (having never been to Japan, so take this with a grain of salt) that トイレ is not necessarily childish, but just a bit more... unpolished. Kind of like “toilet” vs “bathroom” or “bathroom” vs “restroom” in English.


Why not "(I) go to the loo"?


I said "I'm going to go wash my hands", which is technically correct, and often the intended use of otearai vs toire, right?

Still wrong, but whatev.


Otearai is a noun that refers to place, not an action. It's possible that you are going to the "otearai" to wash your hands, but that's not specified in the Japanese sentence.

If you want to specify that you are going to wash your hands, you could say 手を洗いに行きます (te o arai ni ikimasu).

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