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<< passive | polite >>

(pastverb)
    Meaning: Past Tense
    JLPT Level: 0
    Category: lesson
    Author: TaeKim

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Changing verbs to the past tense

We will finish defining all the basic properties of verbs by learning how to express the past tense of actions. I will warn you in advance that the conjugation rules in this section will be the most difficult you will learn in all of Japanese. On the one hand, once you have this section nailed, all other rules of conjugation will seem simple. On the other hand, you might need to refer back to this section many times before you finally get all the rules. A great deal of practice will also probably be needed until you can get familiar with all the conjugations.

Past tense for ru-verbs

We will start off with the easy category of ru-verbs. To change a ru-verb from dictionary form into the past tense, you simply drop the 「る」 and add 「た」. For the negative, have you noticed how 「ない」 often conjugates in the same way as i-adjectives and 「じゃない」? Yes, the rule is the same as the negative state of being and i-adjectives. You drop the 「い」 and add 「かった」.
To change ru-verbs into the past tense
  • Drop the 「る」 part of the ru-verb and add 「た」
  • 例)
  • 例)捨て捨て
Summary of ru-verb
PositiveNegative
Non-Past食べる食べない
Past食べ食べなかった

Examples

(1) ご飯は、食べた。- About meal, ate.
(2) 映画は、全部見た。- About movie, saw them all.

Past tense for u-verbs

Changing a u-verb from dictionary form to the past tense is difficult because we must break up u-verbs into four additional categories. These four categories depend on the last character of the verb. A table will be best in showing what I mean. In addition, there is one exception to the rules, which is the verb 「行く」. I've bundled it with the exception verbs 「する」 and 「来る」 even though 「行く」 is usually an u-verb.

Past tense conjugations for u-verbs
EndingNon-Pastchanges to...Past
す→したした


く→いた
ぐ→いだ
いた
いだ




む→んだ
ぶ→んだ
ぬ→んだ
んだ
んだ
んだ




る→った
う→った
つ→った
った
った
った
      
Exceptions
Non-PastPast
する
くる
行くった

Examples

(1) 今日は、走った。- As for today, ran.
(2) 友達来た。- Friend is the one that came.
(3) 遊んだ。- I also played.
(4) 勉強は、した。- About homework, did it.

Past negative tense for verbs

Once you've gotten that down, the rest is the same as before. Notice again that the negative of verbs always end in 「ない」. Just like the conjugations for negative adjectives and negative state of being, you simply replace the 「い」 with 「かった」 to make it the past tense.
To change verbs into the negative past tense
  • 例)捨て捨てな捨てなかった
  • 例)行かな行かなかった

Examples

(1) アリスは食べなかった。- Alice did not eat.
(2) ボブも行かなかった。- Bob also did not go.
(3) ジムがしなかった。- Jim is the one that did not do.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Tae Kim (kimchi314@yahoo.co.jp)
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