た-form: not just for the past

When studying Japanese you often hear た used in some strange ways! When somebody finds something they are looking for, they don’t say ある, they say あった! And have you ever been told ちょっと待った! rather than ちょっと待って! ?

It turns out there are about 9 different uses for the ta-form. I was surprised. How many do you know?

  1. a past action or state (the most familiar use)

    I wrote a letter to my mother.

  2. repeated habitual actions in the past

    I used to exercise a lot in those days.

  3. a past event occurring under specific circumstances (!)

    I would wash my hands immediately after I got home.

  4. a past situation which has lasted until present time

    You’ve grown, haven’t you!

  5. the discovery of a new state or situation

    Oh, there you are!

  6. recall of a future event

    Oh, I have an exam tomorrow!

  7. request for a listener’s confirmation of a fact

    Who are you?

  8. advanced proclamation of the future realisation of an action or situation

    Alright, I’ll buy it!

  9. a command (pretty rude) expressing urgency

    Stop it!!

So don’t be surprised if you see た used somewhere strange. After a while living in Japan, I found myself saying あった!too!