I'm practicing understanding japanese by japanese subs of anime. For this moment it is 10 episode of season 2 "Seitokai yakuindomo", the last scene.

Here is Tsuda words:
**あっ そうだ 買い物 頼まれてた んだ**
Translation: Ah! By the way, I was asked to shop some things.

I try to firugre out by parts and could not understand what form of verb for 頼む [tanomu] was used here.

あっ そうだ [a: soda] Well, here is a thing.
買い物 [kaimono] shopping
頼まれてた [tanoma reteta] ???? what is the form of the verb
んだ [nda] situation is the following.

Is it past passive? If so, I could not find info that past passive exists in japanese language. 頼まれる - is plain passive, but no past passive in the vocabulary.

Does anyone knows what is the form of this verb in Tsuda's words?

  • Is there a reason you don't think you can combine past + passive (or most other conjugations)?
    – Ringil
    May 27, 2019 at 12:07
  • Related or possible duplicate (~ていた → ~てた): japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/18498/…
    – Chocolate
    May 27, 2019 at 12:10
  • > Is there a reason you don't think 1) Reason #1. When I go to google and search for "japanese grammar passive past example" there is no any article on that particular topic. Strange... but ok, I open each article and using Ctrl+F in Chrome search on each page "れてた" - no match. That means there is no article explaining Japanese Passive Past with れてた ending.
    – Tchibi-kun
    May 27, 2019 at 17:46
  • > Is there a reason you don't think 2) Reason #2. I use NJStar Editor, there is built-in function: you type any verb, in my case 頼む and you get a full list of possible variations for that verb. There is no Passive Past. There is no 頼まれてた. The most close variant is Passive Plain 頼まれる, which does not fit my case.
    – Tchibi-kun
    May 27, 2019 at 17:48
  • > Is there a reason you don't think 3) Reason #3. When I type 頼まれてた in website Jisho.org, it says that it is "Te-ita-form" of 頼む, but it is not, cause te-ita means continuous "I am calling", but in this particular case I see no place for Tsuda to say anything in continuos, and translation of this sub in english hints that most probably there is passive in japanese text.
    – Tchibi-kun
    May 27, 2019 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


How to get to 頼まれてたんだ

  • 頼む (tanom-u) is "ask a favor"
  • 頼まれる (tanom-areru) is the passive form of the verb as you noticed
  • 頼まれる is still a verb, so past form and progressive form can be derived for it.
  • 頼まれている (tanomare-te iru) is the "progressive"/"continuous state" form (that conveys the meaning of "state of being asked for a favor")
  • 頼まれていた (tanomare-te ita) is the "discovery ta"/"modal-ta" form (that conveys the feeling of having recalled something)
  • Particle んだ is a form of ~のだ / ~のです about which you can find explanations about here
    We now have 頼まれていたんだ。
  • Finally, in casual speech it is frequent that the い in the ~ている form gets dropped. This is how you get :

Regarding the style of speech: I would say that dropping the い makes it sound like the orator speaks in a bit of a hurry (because they have to do something they had almost forgotten) ; and the presence of んだ sounds like it gives an explanation for the hurriedness, as well as denoting some level of intimacy with the interlocutor.

  • 1
    Thinking about Past Passive Continuous in Japanese language... maybe for us "was asked" is one moment in time and therefore it is Passive, but just Past. But for Japanese may be "was asked" is a form of "being under asking, being in asked-state unless fullfiled"? So, may be Past Continuous Passive is really ok for verb "ask a favor"?....
    – Tchibi-kun
    May 27, 2019 at 19:06
  • 4
    @Tchibi-kun It's actually not used in the "progressive" sense; see this question: When is Vている the continuation of action and when is it the continuation of state?
    – naruto
    May 27, 2019 at 21:30
  • 2
    @Tchibi-kun 頼まれた is "was asked", 頼まれている is "has been asked (i.e., currently in the 'asked' state)". And this た is something called "modal-ta". See: japanese.stackexchange.com/q/40733/5010 All in all, this person just recalled he had been asked something (and was in the 'asked' state).
    – naruto
    May 28, 2019 at 11:13
  • 1
    @wip if you read this lines, thank you as well! Your answer was a root to clear the matter up.
    – Tchibi-kun
    May 28, 2019 at 19:43
  • 2
    Thanks Tchibi-kun and naruto , I edited the answer to include those precisions
    – wip
    May 29, 2019 at 3:20

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