Lesson 18 (Beginner 1B L2): Past Tense

Audrey didn't come for this lesson either, and the teacher said she couldn't make it, but I still think she may be trying to (less subtly) transfer... (I saw the teacher that Audrey said she preferred, who is also the one in-charge, talk to our teacher... saw because they spoke in Korean and obviously I didn't understand any part of that exchange except for Audrey's name.)

We learnt the past tense in this lesson. We also had the quiz, but not at the start. We first went through the dates/days of the weeks again, but using the textbook. In the last lesson, we used the handout only; we did not use the textbook for this topic at all. The quiz was after we had practised some of this and I found that I can at least say the dates a little better.

When we went through the answers for the quiz (quizzes are peer marked always) or perhaps one of the activities (I forgot which one), the teacher was typing out the answers. Usually, she writes, and I don't recall seeing her type before today.

When I first noticed that the answers are on the screen, I had thought she'd had them in a document and was copy/pasting them or they were hidden below, to be revealed as we went on to the next question.

I realised she was typing out the words really fast. I am still struggling to type with the Korean keyboard; these posts are very painful for that reason (and needing to switch keyboards too). I wish I had those typing skills... I wonder if they have those typing trainers for Korean (they probably do, I just don't know how to find them). If only I could type as well in Korean as in English. (Fun fact: I use Colemak.)

Then we moved on to the past tense, in the handout. That will be the bulk of the content for the post for today.

Since the teacher mentioned the test again, I asked when it would be, so I now know that it will be on the 6th lesson, about a month from now.


3. V-았/었-

There are 3 categories of verbs that we considered when we learnt the present tense. In the past tense, these 3 are also conjugated differently.

A. V-았- (ㅏ,ㅗ verbs)

This is for theㅏ,ㅗ verbs. You add 았어요 to it.

Let's say you have 사다 (to buy). The present tense is 사요, and the past tense is 샀어요.

요 and 어요 are actually endings, and there are other endings which we will learn in future. Previously, we did a bit of the formal ending, so it's something like that. The part that is the past tense in 샀어요 is the ㅆ.

That is why the header is V-았- (and not V-았어요) even though as we're learning it here, it says to add 았어요.

More examples:

  1. 마나다 (to meet): 마났어요 (met)
  2. 닦다 (to brush): 닦았어요 (brushed)
  3. 보다 (to watch/see): 봤어요 (watched/saw)

B. V-었- (the other verbs)

This is the catch-all, except for ~하다 verbs.

You add 었어요.


  1. 주다 (to give): 줬어요 (gave)
  2. 읽다 (to read): 읽었어요 (read)
  3. 마시다 (to drink): 마셨어요 (drank)

C. V-했- (~하다 verbs)

As with the present tense, this is the easiest category. There's no need to consider any weird combinations. It's always consistenly 했어요.


  1. 일하다 (to work): 일했어요
  2. 공부하다 (to exercise): 공부했어요

I think my main difficulty with the past tense at this point is the unfamiliarity with the syllables that can sit on top of ㅆ (such as 봤, 줬, which I've never seen before today, though I know the letters), and so am unsure when I can combine the verb with the suffix to add when conjugating.

The other difficulty was being rather confused for a while at how the present tense form comes into play. (It doesn't.) The way it's presented in the handout shows it as the 다 being removed.

I saw this as chopping off the suffix to get the word stem... you have it in French, e.g. for -er verbs you remove the -er to find the stem and then you add the endings to it. (jouer, you remove er to get jou. From there you get: je joue, tu joues, il joue, nous jouons, vous jouez, ils jouent).

If the French example is lost on you... maybe you can think of it like how you chop off the "to" from the infinitive form...? Though that's not really a good illustration. It's just that English is... weird, and for many of the different persons the conjugation requires no removal of any part at all of the stem. (Just take "to run" - I run, you run, he runs, we run, they run. The stem - and in fact the root - is "run".)

But it seemed that, for example, 보다, it's not 밨어요, but 봤어요. (Recall that the present tense is 봐요.) I was just confused, because you are adding 어요, so the ㅏ is there as well, like how for present tense you are adding 아요 to get 봐요. My intuition for when the combining happens isn't strong enough yet.

3.5. Time에 Place에서 Object를 Action

This is 3.5 because it's not really a grammar topic in the handout, but it's building on what we have learnt before.

We have these picture cards to practise in class. On one side are drawings representing (in this case) a verb, and on the other, the verb is given (in the infinitive). There are two ways that we usually practise with these cards. (This is done as a class or in smaller pairs/groups of 3.)

  1. Using both sides: For each picture, we see if we know the word.
  2. Using one side: We refer only to the picture side, and form sentences.

After having learnt the past tense, the teacher told us about this being the usual order in a sentence: Time에 Place에서 Object를 Action.

(I think it's like in German how you can have the nouns in any order, but there is still a preferred order that is the most natural. Here you have particles that indicate the function of the nouns, but there is still a most natural order.)

We had learnt all this individually in the past lessons, so was putting everything together. For each card, we had to try to come up with a time, place, and object (unless it wasn't possible to do so for place and object). And of course, the action would be past tense.

We were taking turns in our group of 3. One of the cards was for 주다 (to give), and it was my turn. The picture shows a man giving a bone to a dog (which I should know the words for, but it doesn't matter since in most cases you don't follow exactly what is on the picture but make up your own).

Someone in the group suggested saying give something to a friend. I paused, and thought: 를 is direct object marker isn't it? We haven't learnt the indirect object particle, so how can that sentence even be formed?

I asked my group mates how to say that. They both looked at me with confused stares. I think they didn't understand my question. One of them explicitly told me so, the other said I should be asking the teacher.

Anyway, the teacher confirmed that we can't say that with what we've learnt, so that was that. But it was kind of surprising, I guess, that... okay, it's not really that surprising. If you haven't learnt a new language (L2) then you might not realise there is a difference. I still recall learning the CODs and COIs in French the first time.


Korean English
고향 hometown
청소하다 to clean
수영하다 to swim
운전하다 to drive

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