If context is needed, please consult this previous question.

So, there's a bunch of verbs related to "持っ" but how can any of them evolve to 持った?

  • It's the past tense form of 持つ. 持った = "owned; used to own". I think you should probably go through a lesson of how Japanese verb conjugation works in general. Here's a really good one: japanese.about.com/od/grammarlessons/a/031101a.htm Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 11:56
  • @Ataraxia This was officially the most ridiculous question I could make! Thanks for pointing out 持つ
    – Cubo
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 12:04
  • Haha no problem! Are you teaching yourself Japanese? If so it's an understandable mistake. Japanese verb forms are really confusing if you don't have formal instruction on them. Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 12:06
  • "owned; used to own" is 持っていた, not 持った.
    – user4032
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 13:48
  • @Ataraxia, yes, self-learner. But for time enough for not making such a blunder :) This was actually part of a previous question, I think the general context off that confused me...
    – Cubo
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


The past tense ~た attaches to the 連用形 "continuative form" of verbs, which for consonant stem verbs is formed by adding -i- to the stem, and for vowel stem verbs is formed by adding nothing.

For vowel stem verbs, this is fairly simple:

    寝る       ne-ru   →     寝た    ne-ta
    見る       mi-ru   →     見た    mi-ta

For consonant stem verbs, it's more complicated. Depending on which consonant the stem ends with, we find an additional set of sound changes:

    書く      kak-u    →   *書きた   kak-i-ta    →    書いた  ka-i-ta 
    脱ぐ      nug-u    →   *脱ぎた   nug-i-ta    →    脱いだ  nu-i-da 
    話す    hanas-u    →    話した hanas-i-ta
    持つ      mot-u    →   *持ちた   mot-i-ta    →    持った   mot-ta 
    死ぬ      sin-u    →   *死にた   sin-i-ta    →    死んだ   sin-da 
    運ぶ    hakob-u    →   *運びた hakob-i-ta    →    運んだ hakon-da 
    噛む      kam-u    →   *噛みた   kam-i-ta    →    噛んだ   kan-da 
    やる      yar-u    →   *やりた   yar-i-ta    →    やった   yat-ta 
    言う       iw-u    →   *言いた    iw-i-ta    →    言った    it-ta 

Note that /w/ disappears before all vowels except /a/, so iw-u is 言う, iw-anai is 言わない, etc.

Three otherwise regular consonant stem verbs are irregular here:

    行く       ik-u    →   *行きた    ik-i-ta    →    行った    it-ta 
    問う      tow-u    →   *問いた   tow-i-ta    →    問うた   too-ta 
    請う      kow-u    →   *請いた   kow-i-ta    →    請うた   koo-ta

These last two reflect western sound changes, while the regular verbs reflect eastern sound changes.

And our irregular verbs are irregular as usual:

    する       suru    →     した      si-ta
    来る       kuru    →     来た      ki-ta

The same changes apply when adding て, たり, たら, or たって rather than た.

In this answer, the * symbol indicates that a form is considered incorrect in Modern Japanese, and is included only to show you how the forms "evolved" (as you asked).

  • The vowel/consonant stem dichotomy is at first glance a useful one here, but looking at やる being posited as an example of a consonant-stem verb I get the feeling that やる can only be identified as such by working backwards from the past form; otherwise what would distinguish it from 寝る and 見る?
    – chigusa
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 5:24
  • 1
    @chigusa Vowel stem verbs always have i or e as their final vowels, never a.
    – user1478
    Commented Jun 20, 2014 at 9:27

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