I received feedback from a teacher about my use of past tense in my diary. I'm not sure where I went wrong here:

I went to see the Osaka castle. It was very beautiful.


The teacher corrected me and said it should be とても綺麗でした。Why should we make the sentence in the past tense? Shouldn't the Osaka castle be always pretty (and hence use the term です?)

1 Answer 1


You should use the past tense simply because you're describing your past experience. You have to use "It was beautiful" when you say this in English, too.

If you are trying to introduce the characteristics of Osaka Castle to someone who doesn't know the castle, it's fine to say something like 大阪城はとても綺麗なお城です ("Osaka Castle is a very beautiful castle") using the present tense. However, since you are supposed to be writing this in a diary, there's no reason to make an introductory sentence like this.

  • I see, than you very much!
    – Ruo Su
    Commented Apr 12 at 7:25
  • Is this the same with い adjectives? For example, if I want to say 'I went to the new movie theater yesterday. It was very spacious.' Should I say '昨日、新しい映画館に行きました。とても広かったでした。' or should I say ’とても広かったです'?
    – Ruo Su
    Commented Apr 12 at 8:28
  • 2
    @RuoSu You must use the past marker (た) only once before です, so 広かったです is the correct sentence. (This is why if you're curious.)
    – naruto
    Commented Apr 12 at 8:43
  • I thought it was normal in speech to shift to non-past exactly like the example in the question, because the tense marking is more "sticky" than it would be in English... ? Commented May 1 at 18:23
  • @KarlKnechtel I'm not sure what you mean by "sticky", but yes, historical present is very common in Japanese. And writing everything in present tense is one of the styles of writing a diary. But this is normally used in plain (non-ます) form, and is more of a rhetorical device.
    – naruto
    Commented May 2 at 1:16

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