だった、でした、and Review

Remember how we looked at the past tense of i-adjectives?

Like this:

Your friend ate a cake, so you ask:

A:
ケーキ美味しかった?
ケーキ おいしかった?
Was the cake good?
Literally: "cake + was tasty?"


Making a sad face, your friend replies:

B:
美味しくなかった。
おいしくなかった。
No, it wasn't.
Literally: "wasn't tasty."



Those past tense i-adjectives are being used in a casual sentence.

In formal situations, they'd be followed by です

美味しかったです
おいしかった です
was tasty; was delicious



美味しくなかったです
おいしくなかった です
wasn't tasty; wasn't delicious



Although we still use です when forming the past tense of i-adjectives, we do NOT use です for the past tense of nouns and na-adjectives.

This makes sense when you think about it because i-adjectives can be conjugated, but nouns and na-adjectives cannot.

Take these present-tense phrases for example:

今日は仕事()。
きょう は しごと (だ)。
I have work today.
Literally: “today + は + work + (だ).”



今日は仕事です
きょう は しごと です。
I have work today.
Literally: “today + は + work + です.”




Now, look at these past tense examples:

昨日は仕事だった
きのう は しごと だった。
I had work yesterday.
Literally: “yesterday + は + work + だった.”



昨日は仕事でした
きのう は しごと でした。
I had work yesterday.
Literally: “yesterday + は + work + でした.”



So…


Present Tense → → → Past Tense
Formal: です → → → でした
Informal:  → → → だった


And just remember that these all come after nouns and na-adjectives.
You may be thinking that next I’ll be listing a bazillion nouns and na-adjectives followed by でした and だった.

But maybe I’m not as predictable as you think! Ha!

Instead, let’s do something more fun: Utilize the knowledge we have acquired in this course so far to form some short dialogues.

Most of the grammar that appears in the following conversations has been covered in previous lessons. Look at how far we've come!

 



 A: 
あれ?今日って何曜日?
あれ? きょう って なんようび?
Huh? What’s today?
Literally: “huh? + today + って + what day of the week?”



 B: 
金曜日。なんで?
きんようび。 なんで?
It’s Friday. Why?
Literally: “Friday. + why?”



 A: 
金曜日?!ヤバい!彼女の誕生日だ!
きんようび?! ヤバい! かのじょ の たんじょうび だ!
Friday?! Shit! It’s my girlfriend’s birthday!
Literally: “Friday?! + shit! / damn! + girlfriend + の + birthday + だ!”



Things to note...

The あれ? in the first sentence means something like "Huh?" or "What the?" and is different from the あれ meaning "that (over there)."

Also in the first sentence, we have the topic-marking って. At this point, it's OK to just think of it as は.

See how Person B just says 金曜日 and not 金曜日だ...? We saw that だ is typically dropped from casual sentences in a previous lesson! What might seem confusing is that Person A includes だ in the last line. Doing so is common when talking aloud to oneself.

The use of の in the last sentence also shouldn't scare you, thanks to another of our previous lessons.

 



 A: 
寒い?
さむい?
Are you cold?
Literally: “cold?”



 B: 
さっきは寒かったけど、今は大丈夫。
さっき は さむかった けど、 いま は だいじょうぶ。
I was cold earlier, but I’m OK now.
Literally: “a little while ago + は + was cold + but, + now + は + OK.”



Things to note...

Making uber-short sentences is easy with i-adjectives. And we can conjugate them into the past tense also, as we learned in... you guessed it, previous lessons.

 



A husband and wife are eating dinner when the doorbell rings. When the wife gets back from answering the door, her husband asks...

 A: 
誰だった?
だれ だった?
Who was that?
Literally: “who + だった (=was)?”



She answers...

 B: 
アマゾン。
アマゾン。
Amazon.
Literally: "Amazon.”
Note: Though less common, we could put だった at the end of this sentence, too. In that case, we could change the translation to "It was Amazon."



Notably...

We just saw that だった is the past tense of だ at the beginning of this lesson!

 



 A: 
辛い?
からい?
Is it spicy?
Literally: “spicy?”



 B: 
ううん、そんなに辛くないよ。
ううん、 そんなに からくない よ。
No, it’s not that spicy.
Literally: “no, + not so much + not spicy + よ.”



Finally...

You may recall that we quite recently looked at the negative forms of i-adjectives and adverbs like そんなに in previous lessons, too.

If you've read all of the previous lessons mentioned above, but you're still having trouble understanding the sentences we just went through, I wouldn't be too hard on yourself. Even when you "know" grammatical forms, that doesn't mean that you'll catch their meaning the first few (dozen) times you come across them.

Just keep paying attention, reading carefully, and moving forward. With enough exposure, you won't have to think about grammar so much, instead getting a natural feel for it. Then we can stop using our brains and simply drift away into Japanese dreamland... or something like that... *_*




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