Ta Form: Colloquial Past Tense

The Ta or Da forms of Japanese verbs primarily serve as the colloquial past tense. These forms are essential for everyday conversation and storytelling. They follow the same inflection logic as the Te form. So, if you know how to conjugate a verb into the Te form, you can easily apply the same rules to form the Ta or Da forms. Let's break down the rules and see how they apply to different groups of verbs.

Group 1 Conjugations

Group 1 verbs, also known as godan verbs, have various endings that change in specific ways when conjugated into the Ta or Da forms.

Verbs ending in Ru, U, and Tsu

For verbs ending in る (Ru), う (U), and つ (Tsu), replace the last kana with った. This change might seem minor, but it effectively changes the verb to its past tense form.


あの まんが を かった。-  I bought that manga.

かんこく りょうり を つくった。- I made a Korean dish.

In these sentences, "かった" and "つくった" indicate actions that were completed in the past.

Verbs ending in Mu, Bu, and Nu

For verbs ending in む (Mu), ぶ (Bu), and ぬ (Nu), replace the last kana with んだ. This pattern is consistent and makes it easier to remember how to conjugate these verbs.


むし を ふんだ。- I stepped on the insect.

どろぼう は しんだ。- The thief died.

Here, "のんだ" and "しんだ" show that the actions of drinking and dying occurred in the past.

Verbs ending in Ku and Gu

For verbs ending in く (Ku) and ぐ (Gu), replace the last kana with いた and いだ, respectively. This slight change is essential to maintain the correct pronunciation and meaning.


りょうしん に てがみ を かいた。-  I wrote a letter to my parents.

おおきい プール に およいだ。-  I swam in a large pool.

In these examples, "かいた" and "およいだ" express completed actions of writing and swimming.

Verbs ending in Su

For verbs ending in す (Su), replace the last kana with した. This is a straightforward change, making it easy to conjugate these verbs.


その こと もう かぞく と はなした。-  I already talked about that with my family.

The verb "さがした" indicates the past action of searching.

Group 2 Conjugations

Group 2 verbs, or ichidan verbs, have a simpler conjugation pattern. To form the past tense, remove the る (Ru) and replace it with た (Ta).


In these sentences, "きた" and "ねた" denote actions completed in the past.

うつくしい きもの を きた。-  Vesti um lindo kimono.

ゆうべ おそく ねた。-  Dormi tarde ontem à noite.

Group 3 Conjugations

  Group 3 consists of irregular verbs, each with its unique conjugation. These verbs do not follow the standard rules but must be memorized individually. A notable point is that in the Ta and Te forms, the verb いく (to go) behaves irregularly and is grouped with these verbs.


いっしょうけんめい に べんきょう した。- I studied very hard.

ゆうこさん が きた。-  Yuuko-san arrived.

とても たのしい りょこう に いった。-  I went on a very enjoyable trip.

The verbs "した," "きた," and "いった" illustrate past actions of doing, coming, and going.

Mastering the Ta and Da forms of Japanese verbs is crucial for effective communication in past tense. By understanding and practicing these conjugation rules, you can confidently describe past actions and events. Remember, the patterns may seem complex initially, but with practice, they become intuitive. Use this guide as a reference to enhance your Japanese language skills and make your conversations more fluent and natural.