In the question and similar ones:

 Nihon e itta koto ga aru?

How can one know whether itta is the past tense of iku or iru?

  • Next stop, 行った、言った、要った
    – waldrumpus
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 8:12
  • @waldrumpus, how do you distinguish them?
    – Oskar K.
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 8:48
  • 1
    When reading, kanji spellings will help. When listening, sometimes pitch accent patterns can help ("ame" can be both rain and candy, but the two have different pitch patterns). Other than that, mostly by context. Differentiating homophones like these is something you'll get better at over time. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 11:52

1 Answer 1


The past tense of 居る{いる} (iru) is not いった (itta), but いた (ita); thus, the past tense of these words are not pronounced exactly the same. 「いった」has a slight stop before the t sound (making the t sound a little lengthened), whereas「いた」does not.

  • are they interchangeable in my example?
    – Oskar K.
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 7:14
  • 1
    No, because in case you would use いた you would have to use the particle に rather than へ. Would sound a bit strange sentence anyway I think.
    – Tommy
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 8:18

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