By now, you should be able to use 동사 in the present and future tense in Japanese. Today, we’re going to learn how to conjugate 동사 and create sentences in the past tense. In this lesson, we will focus only on the plain past form for casual situations.

JLPT N4 Summary of Japanese Verb 활용 forms | 일본어를 배우다 온라인

Japanese Verb Review

Before we begin with the past tense, let’s review some common 동사. In Japanese, there are three kinds of 동사: 동사, 동사, and irregular 동사.

동사 아르 동사 that end in an “” (as in “oo”) sound. Here are some examples of 동사.

-VERBS

일본어로마자영어
통과kayouto commute
建つ타츠to build
ある
아루to be/exist (non-living things)
住 む스 수to live (somewhere)
死 ぬ신슈to die
運 ぶhakobuto carry
yakuto grill/bake
급히isoguto hurry
壊 すkowasuto break

Ru-동사 아르 동사 that end with the 히라가나 character る (). However, keep in mind that sometimes 동사 ending in る can be considered 동사 (like ある above). Here are a few examples of 동사.

홍보

RU-VERBS

일본어로마자영어
いる이 루to be/exist(living things)
信じるshinjiruto believe
借 り る카릴 루to borrow

And, finally, these are the irregular 동사.

IRREGULAR VERBS

일본어로마자영어
하는서두to do
오는쿠루to come

Now that we’ve gone over some common 동사, let’s create a few sentences using the plain form!

私は来週から仕事の為に東京まで通う。
Watashi wa raishuu kara shigoto no tame ni Toukyou made kayou.
I will commute to Tokyo for work starting next week.
彼は占いの話を信じる。
Kare wa uranai no hanashi wo shinjiru.
He believes what the fortune-teller says.
彼女は博物館に来る。
Kanojo wa hakubutsukan ni kuru.
She will come to the museum.

홍보

Conjugating Verbs into the – 형태

In order to conjugate 동사 into the past plain form, you must first conjugate them into the –form. Conjugating 동사-테 form depends on the type of 동사 you are using.

u-동사, you remove the last 히라가나 character of the word and replace it with the characters according to the chart below. 

GUIDE TO CONVERTING -VERBS INTO THE -TE FORM

If it ends in……replace it with…
う ・ つ ・ るu           tsu   ruってtte
む ・ ぬ ・ ぶmu          nu buんでnde
いてite
いでide
수호してshite

Now, let’s take the u-동사 from earlier and conjugate them into their – 형태!

홍보

-VERBS (-TE FORM)

일본어로마자
  ➝ 通ってkayo  ➝ kayotte
  ➝ 建って고마워  ➝ tatte
  ➝ あって에이  ➝ atte
  ➝ 住んで수호  ➝ sunde
사망  ➝ 死んで  ➝ shinde
  ➝ 運んで하코  ➝ hakonde
  ➝ 焼いて당신  ➝ yaite
급류  ➝ 急いでiso  ➝ isoide
  ➝ 壊して코와수호  ➝ kowashite

ru-동사, you remove the final 히라가나 character る and replace it with て ().

RU-VERBS (-TE FORM)

일본어로마자
  ➝ いて나는  ➝ ite
信じ  ➝ 信じてshinji  ➝ shinjite
借り  ➝ 借りて카리  ➝ karite

And, finally, here are the irregular 동사.

IRREGULAR VERBS (-TE FORM)

일본어로마자
する  ➝ して서두  ➝ shite
来る  ➝ 来て쿠루  ➝ kite

Conjugating Verbs into the Past Plain Form (-Ta Form)

Now that we have conjugated the 동사 into their -테 form, it’s time to conjugate them into the past plain form—or the -ta form. Conjugating 동사 from the -테 form into the -ta form, is simple. If it ends with て, you replace it with た (고마워). If it ends with で () you replace it with だ (). 

Let’s take a few of the 동사 from above and conjugate them into the past plain form.

PAST PLAIN FORM (-TA FORM)

일본어로마자영어
焼い~  ➝ 焼いたyai  ➝ yaita(-테 form)  ➝ grilled/baked
  壊し~  ➝ 壊したkowashi  ➝ 고와 시타(-테 form)  ➝ broke
~  ➝ いた나는  ➝ ita(-테 form)  ➝ was/existed(living things)
借り~  ➝ 借りた카리  ➝ karita(-테 form)  ➝ borrowed
し 않았다~  ➝ した  ➝ 시타(-테 form)  ➝ did

How to Use the Past Plain Form

The plain form is used in casual situations. 

When expressing the mere existence of something or someone in the past tense using the plain form, use either あった or いた. あった is used for non-living things, and いた is used for living things.

Examples:

テレビがあった。
Terbi ga atta.
There was a TV.
宴会でボブがいた。
Enkai de Bobu ga ita.
Bob was at the banquet.

In casual situations, in order to express that an action took place or has taken place, you use the 동사 in its plain -ta 형태.

Examples:

昨日家で魚を焼いた。
Kinou ie de sakana wo yaita.
I grilled fish at home yesterday.
先週健太さんは鏡を壊した。
Senshuu Kenta-san wa kagami wo kowashita.
Kenta broke a mirror last week.
2週間前あの店でDVDを借りた。
Ni-shuukan mae ano mise de DVD wo karita.
I rented a DVD at that store two weeks ago.
1時間前母は洗濯をした。
Ichi-jikan mae haha wa sentaku wo shita.
My mom did the laundry an hour ago.

In Summary

The past plain form is used for casual situations when talking about things that took place or have taken place in the past. 

In order to conjugate the 동사 into the past plain form, you must first conjugate it into the -테 form. After that, you change it into the -ta form, which is simple. If it ends in a て, you replace it with a た. If it ends in a で, you replace it with a だ.

Now that you know how to use the past plain form, it’s time to get out there and 연습 with your Japanese speaking partner! You will be using the past plain form a lot, so don’t take this one lightly! 

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