Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Past Tense and Double Past Tense (과거시제)

The Past Tense Marker 었/았

Since the stems of verbs and adjectives cannot be used alone, they are always used with endings. Korean has many different endings that convey much of the grammatical functions such as tense, aspects, sentence types, conjunctions, speech levels, and so on. The endings can be categorized into two types: final endings and pre-final endings, depending on where they appear in the verb or adjective.
Final endings include various speech level endings, such as the polite level -어/아요 and the deferential speech level -습니다. Pre-final endings are inflectional elements that come between the stem and the final ending. Pre-final endings include the past tense marker 었/았 and the honorific suffix -(으)시. For instance, consider the following sentence:

Notice the past tense marker 었 and the honorific suffix 시 appear between the stem 가르치 and the speech level ending -어요, as in 가르치시었어요 and it contracted to 가르치셨어요(taught).
The past tense marker 었/았 is a two-form pre-final ending in that 았 is used after a stem that ends in a bright vowel, while 었 is used after a stem that ends in all other vowels. The following list shows how the marker is placed between the stem and the polite speech level ending -어/아요.

* How to make past tense

Note that -어요 is used after the past tense marker, 았/었. In addition, the conjugation of the verb 하다(do) is irregular in that the stem 하 is changed to 해, when it is combined with the past tense marker, as in 했어요(did).
In general, the Korean past tense is similar to the English past tense in that they both signal the past action or situation. However, there is one subtle difference between them. While the English past tense primarily indicates something that occurred in the past, the Korean past tense indicates not only something that happened in the past but also whether the action or event is complete or not. For example, consider the following

Notice that the above examples all have two interpretations. The first interpretation simply indicates something happened in the past. The second interpretation expresses the completion of an action or event. For instance, one may be at home, since the action of coming home is complete. In addition, one may be wearing socks, since the action of wearing socks is complete.

Double Past Tense Marker 었었/았었

In Korean, one can change a past sentence into a double past sentence by
adding 었 to the existing past tense marker 았/었.

* How to make double past tense

The double past tense marker 았었/었었 makes the past action or situation more remote than the regular past tense marker 았/었 does. The double past tense marker indicates that the past event is no longer relevant to the present activity or situation. In addition, it indicates that the past action or situation is totally complete. For instance, consider the following sentences.

* One of my friend, +Gaedae Park shared a nice tip. Thank you so much!
Hiya, I really enjoy your lessons!
I just wanted to add a small grammar rule that helps me a lot.
You don't really have to just memorize all of the "maker"s. The rule, as far as I understand is
If the final vowel in the verb is ㅏ or ㅗ then the maker is 았 any other final vowel in the verb uses the 었 maker. 
This is helpful for me, because then I don't have to memorize each one and can just figure it out. 
Awesome work!! Keep it up!!

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