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I'm still just learning Japanese,so forgive me if this is a silly question. I'm confused... How can something be "zutto" and "datta" at the same time?

(A) ずっと好きだった (zutto suki datta) Which I translated as "had always liked." (making the "suki" past tense)

But I saw someone else translate:

(B) "ずっとあなたが好きだった" (zutto anata ga suki datta) as "I’ve always loved you."

Which is correct? Is the "like/suki" continuous or just past tense?

  • The English I've always loved you is the present perfect. Past continuous would be I was always loving you (although that would force us to interpret love as dynamic, as stative verbs are incompatible with the continuous be V-ing construction, which is a stativizer). – snailcar Jun 14 '18 at 14:58
  • Ah, yes. My mistake. I'll fix that. But what about "zutto suki datta"-- is it past tense, as in, not pertaining to present time? – Beth Jun 14 '18 at 15:28
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First of all, 「好{す}き」 is an adjective and not a verb, meaning there is no such thing as present or past "tense" for the word. If you knew this, I would apologize, but I had to mention it after reading your comment like "making the 'suki' past tense".

Thus, your question is actually about the tense of 「だった」 instead.

「ずっと好きだった。」

can mean both:

1) "I have always liked you."

2) "I had always liked you."

This "fact" always surprises English-speaking Japanese-learners because to them, those two English sentences mean very different things. 1) says "I still like you." and 2) can mean "I no longer like you."

Japanese is a highly contextual language. What the sentence 「ずっと好きだった」 means in terms of tenses as defined in English depends entirely on the context. In this particular case, it depends on whether the temporal reference point (understood by both speaker and listener) is at the present moment or a time in the past.

  • Thank you for such great clarification. I really appreciate your help so much. I should apologize, I didn't mean that "suki" itself could be past tense, I meant to ask if the "zutto" (and "datta") could make the "suki" past tense or not. Badly worded on my part, but I'm thankful you were able to catch my mistake and correct me. I figured it would be based on context but wanted to ask to be sure. Thanks for your time. – Beth Jun 14 '18 at 21:54
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    Your first sentence confuses me; I thought adjectives had past-tense in Japanese? eg. 美味しい vs. 美味しかった – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jun 19 '18 at 17:37

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