I am a newbie to this language. When I was trying a paper, I have found this sentence.

わたしの あげた ほん を よむ まえに こばやしさん は ユリンさんに かりた ほん を よんだ

If I take your attention to bold faced words, those are verbs in dictionary form, which ends up with either た or だ.

The questions I have is whether this is a grammar pattern. If so, can anyone please explain it briefly?

Would the following be accurate for a translation:

Mr. Kobayashi read the book (that he borrowed from) Mr. Yurin, before he read the book I gave.

  • @Romeo Sierra I think your translation is correct but I think your Japanese sentence have a typo. ユリンさんに かいた ほん means " the book written to Mr. Yurin". "The book that he borrowed from Mr. Yurin" is translated as ユリンさんにかりた本. Jan 2, 2017 at 9:09
  • Yes it is a typo, which I have corrected... Jan 2, 2017 at 9:13
  • So after the edits, the question has become a proofreading request (yes, it's correct, surprisingly, given your supposed confusion with verb conjugation) and still lingering "Please explain briefly how Japanese verbs are conjugated in past tense" which is far too broad for StackExchange.
    – macraf
    Jan 2, 2017 at 9:16
  • I think I am now figuring out the missing part. Seems like I am actually in a confusion with "〜た" vs "〜ました" where both refers to the same in most cases.. Jan 2, 2017 at 9:27
  • So now read your question and think how is anyone supposed to clear up your confusion with "〜た" vs "〜ました" based on what you asked.
    – macraf
    Jan 2, 2017 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


I think the words 'あげた', 'かりた', and 'よんだ' are not in the dictionary form. Those are conjugated forms of the verbs whose dictionary forms (i.e., [終止形]{しゅうしけい}, ending form) are 'あげる', 'かりる', and 'よむ', attached with the conjugated auxiliary verbs whose 終止形 are 'た' and 'だ'.

It would be useful to remember that, in modern Japanese, the 終止形 of all verbs ends with the '-u' sound. For example, ager'u', karir'u', and yom'u', in the above verbs.

'あげた' is a combination of the verb 'あげる' and the auxiliary verb 'た', which makes the tense of the preceding verb to the past. The verb 'あげる' in the phrase 'あげた' is conjugated to [連用形]{れんようけい} (form to precede a verb, adverb, or auxiliary verb) 'あげ' in order to attach to the auxiliary verb 'た'. Then, 'た' in 'あげたほん' is conjugated to the [連体形]{れんたいけい} (form to precede a noun) 'た', which happens to have the same pronunciation as the 終止形, in order to attach to the noun 'ほん'.

Similar structure is also in 'かりた'.

'よんだ' is a combination of the verb 'よむ' and the auxiliary verb 'だ', which also indicates the past tense. 'よむ' is conjugated to 連用形 'よみ' to connect to 'だ'. Then, 'だ' is at the end of the sentence. So, it is in the 終止形 'だ'. In the resulting phrase 'よみだ', the middle 'み' is modified to 'ん' for the sake of easy pronunciation. (This is called [撥音便]{はつおんびん}.) This is how you get 'よんだ'.

That's a brief explanation. For more, learn Japanese conjugation ([活用]{かつよう}) system for verbs (as well as auxiliary verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and others!) as macraf wrote. Have fun!

  • Thank you very much. Yes that is what I was looking for. Basically to summarize, 〜た / だ is indicating past tense of verbs. I think I have been searching in the wrong direction. Thank you @norio for your time.. :) Feb 22, 2017 at 4:08

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