Language | wellsaid

Introducing auxiliary verb patterns that connote change

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Special To The Japan Times

Kaze-ga daibu suzushiku natte-kimashita. (The wind has become much cooler.)

Situation 1: Mr. and Mrs. Okubo are at home, standing in the garden in the evening.

夫: お盆を過ぎてからは、夜の風が大分涼しくなってきたなあ。

妻: ええ。夜はずいぶん、しのぎやすくなってきたわね。

Otto: O-bon-o sugite-kara-wa, yoru-no kaze-ga daibu suzushiku natte-kita-nā.

Tsuma: Ee. Yoru-wa zuibun shinogiyasuku natte-kita-wane.

Husband: Since the Bon period has passed, the night wind has become much cooler.

Wife: Yeah. The evenings are getting a lot more bearable.

Today we’ll introduce two patterns using auxiliary verbs X(verb in te-form)+くる and X(verb in te-form)+いく, both of which connote change. Adverbs that express change, such as だんだん (gradually), 少(すこ)しずつ (little by little), どんどん (rapidly), often go with them. Y(noun)がXてくる shows that Y(someone/something) approaches the speaker from far away, as in 子供 (こども)が走(はし)ってきた (A child came running). This spatial expression can also be used for a temporal meaning, such as coming from the past to the present (see husband’s remark in Situation 1). Another example: 最近(さいきん)の少子化 (しょうしか)は、働(はたら)く女性(じょせい)の数(かず)が増(ふ)えてきたせいなのだろうか (Can the recent declining birthrate be due to an increase in the number of working women?).

Situation 2: Continued from Situation 1.

夫: これからは、昼間も少し楽になっていくだろうね。

妻: そうはいかないかも。例年、8月末から9月の頭にかけての残暑がきびしいし。

Otto: Kore-kara-wa, hiruma-mo sukoshi raku-ni natte-iku-darō-ne.

Tsuma: Sō-wa ikanai-kamo. Reinen, hachigatsu-kara kugatsu-no atama-ni kakete-no zansho-ga kibishii-shi.

Husband: It should also get easier during the day from now on.

Wife: I’m not so sure. The lingering heat from the end of August to the beginning of September is terrible every year.

Y(noun)がX(verb in te-form)+いく expresses that someone/something distances itself from the speaker, as in 子供(こども)が走(はし)っていった (A child went off running). Again, this spatial expression can be applied to the temporal meaning, as in from the present to the future. Example: 歳(とし)を取(と)っていくのは、 いやなものですね (Don’t you hate getting old?). The starting point can be in the past, as in: ローマ帝国(ていこく)は、徐々 (じょじょ)に滅亡(めつぼう)へ向(む)かっていった (The Roman Empire gradually headed toward its collapse).

Bonus Dialogue: Mr. Sere and girlfriend Yuri are on a date, talking about his transfer.

ゆり: セレの長期(ちょうき)出張(しゅっちょう)の日(ひ)が、だんだん近(ちか)づいてきたね。

セレ: 「長期」というほどではないよ。3カ月(さんかげつ)だから。

ゆり: セレは3カ月も私(わたし)と離(はな)れていても 寂(さび)しくないの?

セレ: 寂しいよ。寂しいけど…、3カ月なんて、すぐだよ。

ゆり: セレ、「去(さ)る者(もの)は日々(ひび)に疎(うと)し」ということわざを知(し)っている?

セレ: えっ、聞(き)いたこと、ないな。

ゆり: 「あんまり会(あ)わないでいると、心(こころ)が 離(はな)れてしまう」という意味(いみ)よ。

セレ: ええっ! ゆりは、そんなことを考(かんが)えているの? だめだよ、ぼくから心が離れるなんて!

ゆり: ちょっと言(い)ってみただけ。大丈夫(だいじょうぶ)よ、私たちはこの1年(いちねん)以上(いじょう)、2人(ふたり)でいろんな経験(けいけん)をして、絆(きずな)を深(ふか)めてきたんだから。

Yuri: The departure day of your long-term business trip is getting closer.

Sere: It’s not really “long-term.” The trip’s for three months.

Yuri: You won’t miss me being apart for three months?

Sere: Of course I will, but … three months is nothing.

Yuri: Sere, do you know the proverb “Out of sight, out of mind”?

Sere: What? No, I’ve never heard of it.

Yuri: It means that if you don’t see a person for a while, you’ll feel distant toward that person.

Sere: What? Yuri, is that what you’re thinking? No, you can’t feel distant from me!

Yuri: I’m just teasing you. Don’t worry, we’ve been through a lot together for over a year now, and that’s made our relationship stronger.

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