Pronuciation and Function of "Shite/Shiteru"

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by Moogle, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. Moogle

    Moogle Member

    Canada / English / French / Vietnamese
    Konichiwa my friends! I have been learning more Japanese but I have run into a problem. I am in Taiwan now and with some guide who knows a bit of Japanese but he isn't good at English so it's hard for him to help me in Japanese then translate it to English for me to understand.

    These are my current questions:

    In some words, when typed out - you do not sound out the "u". For example:

    Desu (DESS) in O-Genki Desu-ka? (Oh-Genky-Dess-Ka?)
    and "Gozaimasu" (Go-Zye-Ee-Mass) "Ohayou Gozaimasu".

    However, what about this word:
    "Shiteru". Is it supposed to be said as: "Shi-Tair-Rue" rather than "Shitar"?

    Also, what does "Shite / Shiteru" mean? I am so confused. It's used so often but I can't decode it.

    Nani o shite imasu ka? - What are you doing?

    Nani = What?
    O = signify object?
    Shite = ???
    Imasu = Verb to do? (unsure)
    Ka = Turns it into a question.

    Hope you can answer this! Thanks in advanced.

  2. fitter.happier

    fitter.happier Senior Member

    London, UK
    As far as I know, the "u" in ~してる (shiteru, though shiteiru would be more correct) must be pronounced.

    何をしていますか。 (nani o shiteimasu ka?): what are you doing?

    「しています」 (shiteimasu) is the progressive form of 「する」 (suru, to do).
    In more detail, you just have to "conjugate" a verb in its -te form 「する--->して」 (suru ---> shite), adding 「いる」 or 「います」 (polite form).

    That's all.

    Here's an example:
    何を読んでいますか? (nani o yondeimasu ka?): What are you reading?
    新聞を読んでいます。 (shinbun o youndeimasu): I'm reading the newspaper.

    The -te form of 「読む」 (yomu, to read) is 「読んで」 (yonde). In order to get the progressive form, all you have to do is add 「いる」 or 「います」.
  3. divisortheory Senior Member

    San Francisco, CA USA
    United States, English
    The only time you do not pronounce the u is after s. Even then, you actually do pronounce it, it just sort of "runs together" with the s. It's hard to explain. I think a very formal speaker would pronounce "desu" with a strong sounding "u" just like in "ru". But, over time Japanese have sort of run the two sounds together.

    This is not really specific to u though. shi sometimes does not pronounce the "i". For example, "shiteru" often sounds like "shteru".

    In general, I think you can use these rules of thumb:

    -If su comes at the end of a word, it is ok (but not necessary) for the u to be silent. If the u is emphasized the word sounds more formal.
    -If shi does not come at the end of a word, it is ok (but not necessary) for the i to be silent. If the i is emphasized the word sounds more formal.

    To answer your other questions, "shite" does not really mean anything by itself. It is a conjugation of the word meaning "to do", and its meaning depends largely on everything else around it. "shiteru" means, loosely, "am doing". But again, japanese is heavily context based, and can easily mean something else depending on context.
  4. Moogle

    Moogle Member

    Canada / English / French / Vietnamese
    Thank you to both of you for responding so well!

    I really learned a lot.

    If you feel that you should help me with one more thing, then go ahead.

    Does "imasu" make things present tense or something? Because it doesn't seem like a word itself.

    Arigatou Gozaimasu.
  5. fitter.happier

    fitter.happier Senior Member

    London, UK
    「いる」 (or 「います」) can either be an auxiliary verb (that you can use to form the present continuous tense, as in ~している) or a verb itself. In that case, it means "exist", and it only applies to people and animals. For inanimate objects, the right verb to use is 「ある」 (aru), or 「あります」 (arimasu, polite for aru).

    A very simple phrase using imasu could be:
    机の下に猫が六匹います。 (tsukue no shita ni neko ga roppiki imasu): there are six cats under the table.

    By the way, you should open a new thread if you still have doubts about imasu :)

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