A very warm welcome to you reader, we hope you are well and ready for some awesome Japanese content. Today we are going to be looking at the past form verbs ありました and いました。These verbs are not only terribly useful for your Japanese, but they are also quite easy to understand too. If you are a complete beginner or looking to brush up on some of the basics then this is definitely the lesson for you.

We will set the lesson up into the following sections so you can get a good idea of what’s to come. If you feel like you need to skip ahead or refer back, this should make things easier. 

  1. What do arimashita and imashita mean? 
  2. How do you conjugate these verbs and make sentences? 
  3. Lets look at some examples of using ありました and いました
  4. How to practice and really master the grammar.
  5. Summary 
ASK any questions about Japanese!

 What do arimashita and imashita mean? 

ありました and いました are the past form verbs of あります and います。ありました and いました both mean “There was” or “I had a”. The only difference is that ありました is more for objects that are not alive like books, food, and time. いました is used when your are talking about living things like, friends, people, pets etc. 

These verbs are one of the most commonly used sets of verbs so they are super essential to master as soon as you can. 

If you want to say things like:

I had a friend
There was a book

Then you can use いました and ありました to do just that. 

It represents the idea that things have existed. We are now going to have a look at conjugating these verbs and how to string some basic sentences together.

How do you conjugate these verbs and make sentences? 

So before we start learning how to put sentences together and actually use arimashita and imashita we are first going to need to learn a bit about the other forms and how they are conjugated. ARU and IRU the dictionary form of arimashita and imashita, sit into verb group 3. There are 3 different types of verb groups in Japanese and group 3 has only these 2 verbs within it.

So when it comes to learning their conjugations you have to essentially just remember all of the patterns. There aren’t really any set rules. The table below shows all of the dictionary and masu forms in both past and present tense.

Arimasu ありますThere is (Polite
Imasu いますThere is (Polite) (Living thing) 
Arimashita ありましたThere was (Polite
ImashitaいましたThere was (Polite) (Living thing) 
AruあるThere is 
Iru いるThere is   (Living thing) 
Atta あったThere was 
Ita いたThere was  (Living thing) 

Let’s now take these verbs and see how they work with sentences. Pay close attention to the use of Imashita and Arimashita and what they are marking, Remember Arimashita is for things that are not alive and Imashita are for things that are.

HITO GA IMASU ひとがいますThere is a person
HITO GA IRUひとがいるThere is a person
HITO GA ITA ひとがいたThere was a person
HITO GA IMASHITAひとがいましたThere was a person
PEN GA ARIMASUペンがありますThere was a pen
PEN GA ARU ペンがあるThere is a pen 
PEN GA ATTAペンがあったThere was a pen
PEN GA ARIMASHITAペンがありましたThere is a pen 

When using this structure it is important to note the use of the particle が which is most comonly used before ある and いる。

We are now going to have a look at some example sentences to help you gain a further understanding on the usage of arimashita and imashita. 

Lets look at some examples of using ありました and いました

Take a look at these sentences and pay close attention to the examples with living things vs objects.

おかね が ありましたか
Okane ga arimashita ka 
Did you have money? 
まちに としょかん が ありました
Machi ni toshokan ga arimashita 
There is a library in my town 
ケーキがありました
Ke-ki ga arimashita 
There was a cake 
お父さん が いました
Otousan ga imashita 
My father was here 
いぬ が いました
Inu ga imashita 
I had a dog / There was a dog 

Pay close attention to these 5 sentences as we are now going to look at some ways you can practice what you have learnt today to really master the grammar and start using it for yourself. 

How to practice and really master the grammar.

So now you’ve learnt all the basics with arimashita and imashita we now need to look at setting up a fantastic study routine to ensure you really master it. This is an absolute essential grammar point for your Japanese. Without the understanding of these 2 verbs and applying practical usage you won’t get very far!

Start by reading the examples that we have given today. We want you to really take it all in and read them aloud multiple times until you know them off by heart. Once you have this pattern mastered you will then need to write out 5 – 10 sentences of your own every day for the next 3 – 4 days. This way you will absolutely internalize the grammar point and have it at your disposal for the rest of your life. 

Make sure you are writing these examples and speaking them too as it is important to pick up on both patterns. Remember to also use a good spread of いました and ありました

ASK any questions about Japanese!

Summary 

In summary this is such an important lesson for you to grasp to make sure you re read it if necessary. Remember to practice your example sentences and create as many examples as possible for yourself. 

Practice also the different tenses as this will be useful when moving onto other verb forms later.

We really hope that you have enjoyed today’s online Japanese grammar lesson from BondLingo and if you have any more questions or suggestions around others please get in touch. Until the next online Japanese lesson, バイバイ。

Learn Japanese Online with BondLingo

Learn Japanese Online with BondLingo

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