20

Example:

美人じゃなくて悪かったですね! (sarcastic)

compared to someone who is using a room and is told あんまり広い部屋じゃなくて悪いな

Or for example the difference between 無事でよかった and I can't think of the corresponding for just いい, but I'm sure you understand my question.

25

Modal vs. Present Tense vs. Past Tense

「[美人]{びじん}じゃなくて[悪]{わる}かっですね!」 = "Too bad I'm not such a beauty!"

That is called 「ムードの『た』」 = the "modal 'ta'", not the past tense 'ta'. It is used when one's expectation has just matched or failed to match reality.

The female speaker of the sentence above knows that the male listener has expected her to be pretty, but he has just found out that she is not so. In this situation, the speaker will use 「悪かっ」 = "Too bad!", not 「悪い」, even though it is happening at the present moment.

「あんまり[広]{ひろ}い[部屋]{へや}じゃなくて悪いな。」 = "Sorry this is not such a big room!"

In this case, 「悪い」 is in the plain present tense = "Sorry about that!". The speaker knows, as well as the listener, that the listener was in no position to expect a large room in the first place.

For comparison, here is an example of the past-tense 「悪かった」.

「あの[時]{とき}は、いい部屋が[空]{あ}いてなくて[本当]{ほんとう}に悪かった。」 = "At that time, I was really sorry that we didn't have a nice room available (for you)."

「あの時」 alone should tell us that this sentence is about a time in the past.


「[無事]{ぶじ}でよかった。」 = "I am (or was) relieved to find out (something) is (or was) OK."

Without further context, it is impossible to tell whether this is the modal 'ta' or the past-tense 'ta'. It would, however, be safe to say that this phrase is more often used when one has just found out that something/someone is OK -- in other words, within the modal 'ta' territory = "I am relieved ~~".


Other examples of the modal 'ta':

When you have just found an item you have been looking for, you will say 「あっ」, not 「あ」.

If it is a person that you have found, you will say 「い」, not 「い」.

1

The past tense and the present tense can both be used to express the feelings of the speaker:

ご親切にどうもありがとうございました

ご親切にどうもありがとうございます

= Thank you so much for your kindness.

Both can be used in the same situation but each will carry a different nuance :

The former insists on the fact that it is the achievement of the action that is the cause of the feelings of the speaker.

The latter insists on what the speaker is feeling at the time he is speaking rather than on the action that caused those feelings.

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