1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "My little brother is reading…

"My little brother is reading a difficult textbook."


June 21, 2017



私の(わたしのmy)弟(おとうとyounger brother)は  難しい(むずかしいdifficult) 教科書(きょう か しょtextbook) を 読んで(よんで) います。




Is it also sometimes common to say oto ha instead of watashi no oto ha?


It is otouto* Japanese often says only otouto/imouto, since its implied in the sentence you are talking about your family. Just remember some contexts can mean something different. Its pretty much unlikely to ask about your brother age for someone who is not your family for example, in this case, you were asking for someone else's age.


when should we use で and て in the "でいます" structure? Thank you in advance!


it depends of the te form of the verb

you have to replace the ending kana with one of the follwing endings

~く > いて ~ぐ > いで

~す > して

~む んで ~ぬ > んで ~ぶ んで

~つ ~う > って ~る

if there is a い or え before the る then ~る> て irregulars 来る > きて する > して

i hope it was helpfull english isn't my native language


when should we use で and て in the "でいます" structure? Thank you in advance!

Basically, verbs that end on〖む〗like 「飲む」or 「読む」conjugates to「~んで」. Hence you have the 「飲んで」and 「読んで」.

Check out the following article for a complete rundown of the TE-form:



Why not 弟は難しい教科書を読んでる ? It accepts it as 弟は難しい教科書を読んでいる but I understood the い after -て was optional, and it is in every other exercise.


That's exactly the answer I used as well, and I don't think it's wrong, since by not using honorifics, you are most likely referring to your own brother, and that the い in the continuous form is completely optional.

Seeing that this answer is still rejected 4 months since this comment, I'm not optimistic that it'll be accepted, but I'll report it either way.

If anyone knows what went wrong in our sentence, please let us know. Duo doesn't tell us the mistakes with our sentences, and it'll be extremely helpful if someone could help nudge us in the right direction.


Meanwhile, my little brother(actually my 2nd cousin but we're close enough) is playing fortnite and FIFA on his tablet.


Seems like 僕 (ぼく) is not accepted, it has to be 私 (渡)


Can i use 読みます instead of 読んでいます.


That would change the meaning from "is reading" present continuous/progressive
to "reads" (habitual) or "will read" (future)

私の弟は難しい教科書を読んでいます - My little brother is reading a difficult textbook
私の弟は難しい教科書を読みます - My little brother reads difficult textbooks / My little brother will read a difficult textbook


Can't I write "a difficult textbook o my younger brother wa is reading" in that order? It was marked wrong.


You mean?:


You can but it's a very unnatural order. You should just stick to what's normal.


Can anyone explain why DL thinks the following answer is wrong? 私の弟は難しいの教科書を読んでいます.


The "no" is superfluous


See, this is why I get frustrated when Duolingo refuses to accept 始まっています for "class is starting" but requires 読んでいます for "brother is reading"


This is because they are different types of verbs;

Unlike "read" which has a beginning, middle and end, "Start/begin" is an instantaneous action; either it has or it has not. 始める describes a point of transition from not acting to acting, the ている form then describes the resulting state of that transition. 始まっている the class "has started" and as a result is still ongoing and has not ended.

The same with 知る "Know" which is closer to "To find out"
The plain form describes the transition from not knowing to knowing and after that transition has completed you are 知っている. You found out and are now in an ongoing resulting state of knowing.

An explanation from KeithWong9 on the discussion page for that sentence:

begin is an instantaneous verb and it is not an action. It has no duration and it behaves differently than action verbs.

  • 始まっている=始まった=has begun
  • 始まる=will begin

When we say "is beginning," it means "is going to begin very soon" and the Japanese translation is 始まろうとする

始まろうとしています is closer to "It is going to start."

And my question is - what is the difference between "It is starting" and "It is going to start"?

始まる is an instantaneous verb and there is no transition in between. It is either before start or after start, can't be in the process of starting. If you are saying something like "starting an engine" with a transition, you cannot use 始まる and must use a different verb e.g. 起動(きどう)する.


I can see that's the case for something like a class, but what about an engine or a computer that has an obvious "starting up" phase...or is that a different verb? (Also I'd suggest that when we say "Class is starting" in English we actually mean it's technically already started, but nothing significant has occurred yet, e.g. just greetings/introductions/preparatory instructions.)


"start (an engine)" would use 掛かる
Or the noun/suru verb 始動・しどう "starting (machine, engine)"


So how would you say "Duolingo's lesson is starting. Please wait for it to load."? Would that be a different verb & not some conjugation of 始まる?


As it is loading and has not actually started yet it would be the equivalent of 'about to start/about to begin', 始まろうとする・始まろうとしています


I guess that's fair & will probably make sense as I learn more tenses. Part of the problem is that it really is a very different tense in English. "Is starting" is present continuous, which is reserved for actions that are continuing into the present & have not been perfected (i.e. completed) yet. While the Japanese "始まります" may be a good way to express the English phrase "Class is starting," the English phrase seems to be a poor fit for a Japanese concept if that involves an instantaneous action. Most English speakers would probably use the present perfect phrase "class has started" to convey something that has undergone a state change like starting. The fact that Duolingo will not accept "Class has started" or "Class starts" (an awkward phrase but one you could see in third person narratives) makes this much more obviously jarring.


Is the "私の" part really necessary? I thought Japanese implied that you're talking about yourself unless otherwise stated.


Not only that, 弟 on its own (vs 弟さん) would pretty much only ever mean my little brother, so it would seem especially redundant in this case. Anyway, it's definitely accepted without it.

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.