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I found many people say 好きでした when they actually mean 好きです. I think it is short for ずっと好きでした. I know ずっと~していた and ずっと~している can well mean the same, but I still do not know the nuance between 好きでした and 好きです.


The question is about the difference between 好きでした and 好きです. The following do not have to be relevant, but I hope it can inspire discussions and answers.

My first thought is that ずっと may be the culprit. It is often used with た even when る is possible and more logically correct. ずっと is often used with していた and している. The two expressions often happen to be interchangeable. And I think compared with している, していた often implies the process/action/state is interrupted or something else happens in the meanwhile, like in

彼女に電話をかけようと考えていたところ、彼女の方から、電話をかけて来た

My another observation is that た is often used to in experience-based expressions. It seems that た (as well as the particle だ, adjective ending い) is especially common in expressions involving expressing emotions, and る is rare in this usage. All following sentences are stative, very different from verbs. I assume 好きでした has something to do with it.

  1. Impressions, reports

(After watching) いい最終回だった

(Looking out the window, then coming back and saying) 誰もいなかった

  1. Feelings

(Hearing good news) よかった

(After the issue is solved) ありがとうございました

  1. Something between 1 and 2

(When you finally got to see someone) 会いたかった

(Same as above) 待っていました

There are many other usages of た, but I do not think they are particularly relevant.

I feel that 好きでした is more or less the same as 会いたかった and 待っていました. Unlike case 1 and 2, both sentences can be used with ずっと, which is similar to 好きでした. But it can be argued that the uses of た in both sentences are logical, because both imply 会えた so the speaker is no longer 会いたい or 待っている. Nevertheless, I think 好きでした conveys the same level of emotional intensity as 会いたかった and 待っていました, if you compare them with 待たせたな, 遅い、すごく待った. I think people say 愛してる rather than 愛してた probably because 片思いのほうが辛い.

To emphasize the feeling over a long past period of time, is this the reason that makes た often fit better with ずっと?

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    「好きでした。付き合ってください」 sounds very weird if comes out of nowhere. However, 「好きだったんです。付き合ってください」 seems to work. I can't say why yet. – broccoli forest Dec 15 '14 at 10:07
  • @broccoliforest, thank you. I didn't know that. Does ずっと前から好きでした。付き合って下さい sound any better? – Yang Muye Dec 15 '14 at 11:00
  • Oh, this one has no problem. – broccoli forest Dec 15 '14 at 14:52
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The difference between 好きでした and 好きです is somewhat subtle. It depends on whether or not the action/event/whatever being described is a one time event or an ongoing action. For example, If you liked a concert you would probably say 好きでした (or, if you wanted to sound even more natural, 面白{おもしろ}かった -- It was interesting). If you like studying Japanese, you would say 日本語を勉強{べんきょう}するのが好きです. It's similar to the English, "I liked that movie." as opposed to "I like that movie." Both are correct, but in Japanese you would slightly prefer the past tense if you're talking about a single event.


For 「よかった, いい最終回だった」, this is actually two independent clauses so the adverb ずっと wouldn't work. The 良{よ}かった is saying, "That was great." If you wanted to use ずっと, you would put if before the verb and make the verb past tense. For example, この道{みち}をずっと行った (I went all the way down this road).

  • Thank you very much for your answer. I edited my question to make it clearer. The case of verbs is much more obvious than adjectives. I don't think 好き is a one time event, but I assume you mean the same as my term experience-based. I think your explanation mostly aligns with my examples in case 1. – Yang Muye Dec 15 '14 at 5:24
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Just an addition to current answers/comments. It could also be a Hokkaido thing. When I lived and worked in Sapporo, some people (mostly 50 and older) would use a similar past tense. For e.g., I might get a phone call where the other person might say "もしもし、佐藤でした" instead of "もしもし、佐藤です"

you might find more details by googling "北海道弁 過去形"

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