【Difference】between ている (teiru), ていく (teiku), てくる (tekuru), てある (tearu), ておく (teoku), てみる(temiru)


What is the difference among all of them? Let’s have a look one by one.

てForm is required for the sentence patterns below.

Quick reference

  • ている:is/am/are doing something now
  • ていく:do something, then go
  • てくる:do something, then come back
  • てある:something has been done, so ready for something else
  • ておく:do something before something else happens
  • てみる:try to do something

ている (te i ru)


I am eating sushi.

ている (te i ru):is/am/are doing something now

ていく (te i ku)


I eat sushi. (then go)

ていく (te i ku):do something, then go

  • いく originally means ‘to go’.
  • Where do they go? It is their next destination.
  • It is sometimes good to translate ていく as ‘to continue’.

Ex: つらくても生きていく。(I continue to live even if it is hard.)

  • 私はうたっていく。(I sing then go.)
  • スカイツリーにのぼっていこう。(Let’s climb Sky Tree then go.)
  • かさをもっていきなさい。(Have an umbrella then go. = Take an umbrella.)

てくる (te ku ru)


I eat sushi. (then come back)

てくる (te ku ru):do something, then come back

  • くる originally means ‘to come’.
  • Where do they come back? It is usually their home, where they usually are.

  • 私はかみをきってくる。(I have my hair cut then come back.)
  • 気をつけて行ってきてね。(Go carefully then come back.)
  • 父は今日ゴルフをしてきた。(My father played golf today then came back.)

てある (te a ru)


I have eaten sushi. (so ready to leave Japan.)

てある (te a ru):something has been done, so ready for something else

  • ある originally means ‘to be’ or ‘to exist’.
  • What is ready? That depends on the context.

  • お茶がいれてあります。(The tea has been made.) – so ready for you to drink it.
  • 先生には話してあります。(I have spoken to the teacher.) – so ready for you to talk to him.
  • バナナは買ってあります。(I have bought bananas.) – so ready to make banana cakes.

ておく (te o ku)


I eat sushi. (before I leave Japan)

ておく (te o ku):do something before something else happens

  • おく originally means ‘to put’.

  • ちゃんとくすりを飲んでおきなさい。(Take medicine properly.) – before you get well.
  • たくさんトレーニングしておけ。(Train a lot.) – before the game next month.
  • 話しておきたいことがある。(I have something I want to talk about.) – before I die.

てみる (te mi ru)


I try to eat sushi.

てみる (te mi ru):try to do something

  • みる originally means ‘to see/look/watch’.

  • きのうチェスをやってみた。(I tried to play chess yesterday.)
  • 友だちのおやに会ってみた。(I tried to meet my friend’s parent.)
  • 新しいスマホを使ってみた。(I tried to use a new smart phone.)