~ませんでした(か)

"Oh, wow, I can't wait to look at some more polite verb conjugations."

...says me ...in Bizarro World.

If I'm being completely honest with you, I'm pretty sick of all these conjugation lessons. Maybe you are, too.

But I have good news: After this lesson, we can take a break from all this verb conjugation talk.

Rejoice.

Then review.

Just. One. More.

 

~ませんでした

~ませんでした is the negative form of ~ました.

In other words, ~ませんでした is the past tense of ~ません.

In grammar speak, we can say that ~ませんでした is the verb ending for polite negative past tense.

If you've read our previous lessons, this is going to be very easy.

Specifically,  review the lesson on ~ません(か).

After you've mastered those conjugations, you'll be happy to know that all we have to do is add ~でした to ~ません in order to make ~ません past tense.

Here are the conjugation lists, which I'm sure you're just dying to see...

 

1) Godan Verbs // Group I Verbs // u-verbs

Take the final kana of a verb, which ends in a 'u' sound, and change it so that it ends in an 'i' sound.

-ません Form: After we change the ending to an 'i" sound, we add -ません to the end of it.
-ませんでした Form: Add -でした to -ません to make it past tense.

-う (-u) → -いません (-imasen) → -いませんでした (-imasendeshita)
-く (-ku) → -きません (-kimasen) → -きませんでした (-kimasendeshita)
-ぐ (-gu) → -ぎません (-gimasen) → -ぎませんでした (-gimasendeshita)
-す (-su) → -しません (-shimasen) → -しませんでした (-shimasendeshita)
-つ (-tsu) → -ちません (-chimasen) → -ちませんでした (-chimasendeshita)
-ぬ (-nu) → -にません (-nimasen) → -にませんでした (-nimasendeshita)
-ぶ (-bu) → -びません (-bimasen) → -びませんでした (-bimasendeshita)
-む (-mu) → -みません (-mimasen) → -みませんでした (-mimasendeshita)
-る (-ru) → -りません (-rimasen) → -りませんでした (-rimasendeshita)


And now let's look at (1) Dictionary Form, (2) -ません Form, and (3) -ませんでした Form:

(Reminder: These are godan verbs.)

// kau // to buy
いませんいません // kaimasen // not buy
いませんでしたいませんでした // kaimasendeshita // did not buy



// iku // to go
きませんきません // ikimasen // not go
きませんでしたきませんでした // ikimasendeshita // did not go



// nugu // to take off [e.g. shoes]
ぎませんぎません // nugimasen // not take off [e.g. shoes]
ぎませんでしたぎませんでした // nugimasendeshita // did not take off [e.g. shoes]



// osu // to push; to press
しませんしません // oshimasen // not push; not press
しませんでしたしませんでした // oshimasendeshita // did not push; did not press



// tatsu // to stand
ちませんちません // tachimasen // not stand
ちませんでしたちませんでした // tachimasendeshita // did not stand



// shinu // to die
にませんにません // shinimasen // not die
にませんでしたにませんでした // shinimasendeshita // did not die



あそ // asobu // to play
びませんあそびません // asobimasen // not play
びませんでしたあそびませんでした // asobimasendeshita // did not play



// nomu // to drink
みませんみません // nomimasen // not drink
みませんでしたみませんでした // nomimasendeshita // did not drink



すわ // suwaru // to sit down
りませんすわりません // suwarimasen // not sit down
りませんでしたすわりませんでした // suwarimasendeshita // did not sit down



Next, let's look at ichidan verbs (↓).

 



2) Ichidan Verbs // Group II Verbs // ru-verbs

Drop -る (-ru) and add -ません (-masen) or -ませんでした (-masendeshita):

食べたべ // taberu // to eat
食べませんたべません // tabemasen // not eat
食べませんでしたたべませんでした // tabemasendeshita // did not eat



起きおき // okiru // to get up; to wake up
起きませんおきません // okimasen // not get up; not wake up
起きませんでしたおきませんでした // okimasendeshita // did not get up; did not wake up



Finally, the irregular verbs...

 



3) Irregular Verbs // Group III Verbs

する(suru // to do; to make
しません(shimasen // not do; not make
しませんでした(shimasendeshita // did not do; did not make



来る(くる // kuru // to come
来ません(きません // kimasen // not come
来ませんでした(きませんでした // kimasendeshita // did not come


 




Example Time

What's the point of looking at all of these different conjugations if we don't look at how they're used in actual conversations?!

(Note that all of the speakers in the following conversations are using polite/formal language.)

 A: 
レストランはどうでしたか?
レストラン は どう でした か?
How was the restaurant?
Literally: “restaurant + は + how + was + か?”
Note: You may recall that でした is the polite past tense of です.



 B: 
結局行きませんでした
けっきょく いきませんでした。
I didn’t go there, in the end.
Literally: “after all + did not go.”


 




昨日は何も食べませんでした
きのう は なにも たべませんでした。
I didn’t eat anything yesterday.
Literally: “yesterday + は + nothing (=what + も) + did not eat.”


 




 A: 
映画は面白かったですか?
えいが は おもしろかった です か?
Was the movie good?
Literally: “movie + は + was interesting / was fun / was good + です + か?”
Note: You may recall that ~かったです is the polite past tense of i-adjectives.



 B: 
ん~、意味がよくわかりませんでした
ん~、 いみ が よく わかりませんでした。
The movie? Well, I didn’t really understand it.
Literally: “[sound that indicates thinking], + meaning + が + well + did not understand.”


 



Like our other polite verb forms, adding か to the end will make it a question:

買いませんでした
かいませんでした。
I didn’t buy it.
Literally: “did not buy.”



買いませんでしたか?
かいませんでした か?
Did you not buy it?
Literally: “did not buy + か?”


Let's confuse ourselves!

Translating the nuances of sentences, especially without any situational context, is extremely difficult. For example, above I translated 買いませんでしたか? as "Did you not buy it?" Initially, however, I was thinking about translating it as "You didn't buy it?" or possibly "Didn't you buy it?"

The reason that I ultimately went with "Did you not buy it?" is that "You didn't buy it?" and "Didn't you buy it?" are likely to carry the nuance of, "I thought you would buy it, but you're telling me that you didn't?" Maybe we could argue that "Did you not buy it?" can carry this nuance, as well. The specific meaning of the English depends a lot on word stress.

Let's say that the speaker did want to say "Didn't you buy it?" or "You didn't buy it?" with the meaning of "I thought you would buy it, but you're telling me that you didn't?" or "You should have bought it, but you're saying that you didn't?" How would we phrase that in Japanese?

💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀

Hint #1: We would say something different than 買いませんでしたか?...

💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Thinking Space 💀 💀

Hint #2: We would use ~んですか?, which is a more formal version of question-ending の?, which we saw in an earlier lesson.

And the answer is...

💀 💀 Breath-Holding Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Breath-Holding Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Breath-Holding Space 💀 💀
💀 💀 Breath-Holding Space 💀 💀

買わなかったんですか?
かわなかった んです か?
Didn't you buy it? // You didn't buy it?
Literally: "didn't buy + んです + か?"



Difficult? Yeah, I think so, too. Deciding whether or not to put ~の? or ~んですか? on the end of a question is one of the more difficult parts of speaking Japanese. Let's just pick it up slowly over time.

 

Finished!

I know it was tough getting through all of these conjugations of polite verb forms, but I highly encourage you to take your time really mastering this stuff. You'll be using it all throughout your studies, after all.



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