A couple of weeks ago I learned in my course the usage of the て-Form which were:

  • Chaining verbs together , all of which are written in the で-Form and the last one is written with the polite form. The last verb can indicate if the action happened in the past or present/future (ます/、ました)
  • Asking someone to do something, for example: まって ください
  • Saying that you are currently doing an action: アメリカに すんで います

I want to learn about the other usages of the た-Form since I know that both forms are written very similarly. I tried to search online about the Usage and no luck. All I know about it is that it's the plain past form.

So, in practice, all I know is the I can write in two ways something I did in the past:

  • ビルを のみました.
  • ビルを のんだ.

My main question is what are the main usages of the た-Form? Is it like the て-Form ? Is there a site that explains it more deeply ?

  • 4
    I think that the て-Form has so many usages because it turns the verb in an adverb in a way, whereas the た-Form is just the conjugation for a verb into its past form. There are grammar points such as たほうが that use the た-Form without the "past" meaning, but they include more elements than just a verb ending in the た-Form
    – jarmanso7
    Apr 10, 2020 at 22:45
  • 2
    As jarmanso7 says た is nowhere near as flexible as て. I can only think of one other use, which is described in this link: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/40733/… Apr 11, 2020 at 8:42

2 Answers 2


According to Kunihiro there are 9 usages for ーた form.

  1. A situation completed in the past or that lasted for a certain length of time in the past:

Haha ni tegami o kai-TA ‘I WROTE a letter to my mother.’

  1. Habitual repetition in the past:

Ano koro wa yoku undoo si-TA ‘I USED TO EXERCISE frequently in those days.’

  1. A situation that occurred under a certain circumstance in the past:

Kaeru to sugu ni te o arat-TA ‘I WOULD WASH my hands immediately after I got home.’

  1. A situation that materialized in the past and still exists:

Ookiku nat-TA ne ‘You’VE GROWN, haven’t you?’

  1. Sudden discovery that a certain state has continuously existed (the so-called TA form of discovery; a special case of (4):

A, soko ni i-TA no ‘Oh, there you ARE!’

  1. Sudden recalling of a future event or plan that the speaker has known as definite:

A, asita siken ga at-TA ‘Oh, I HAVE an exam tomorrow!’

  1. A request for hearer’s confirmation of a fact (normally only in questions):

Anata wa donata desi-TA ka ‘Who ARE you?’

  1. Proclamation or assertion of the realization of a situation which has not been realized:

Yosi kat-TA ‘All right, (I’m sold) I’LL BUY it!’

  1. A command:

Doi-TA, doi-TA ‘STEP back! STEP back!’


Thanks to the comments a little research, I am able to assemble a humble answer. These are the main usages of the た-Form:

  • 1st one is the obvious, which is the option to say a verb in it's past tense plainly.

    this raises a personal question (which I do not want to discuss here) which is: can I chain multiple た-Forms like the て-Form?

  • 2nd is saying "probably did something" by doing this -> [た-Form + だろ/でしょう]. here's an example of a site I visit often to get a verb's full conjugation(Drink Example) -> 飲んだだろう / 飲んだでしょう
  • 3rd is taken from user3856370's comment link page; "Discovery and Recall". For a "Discovery Expression", we can conjugate ある/いる to the た-Form to add a "discovery" sound to it (Just as you hear in anime the verb 見つけ!).

Summary: I think that た-Form, as said by jarmanso7, is much less flexible since "the た-Form is just the conjugation for a verb into its past form", where's the て-Form is mainly used to chain various expressions (This video,at 0:23, explains what the て-Form is). It has no direct (what so ever) indication about the time the verb occurred. Rather, the nonて-Form that is attached to it, indicates the time and meaning.

  • 食べて ください ("Please eat" expression)
  • (私は) 食べて 飲みました ("I ate and drank", the last verb indicating that the "eating" was done in the past).

In short, the て-Form was meant for modification, where's the た-Form is mainly used for past plain tense.

  • 1
    I recommend you to make a new post if you have new questions, rather than asking a new question in an answer. You can always add a link to the new question in this answer for reference.
    – jarmanso7
    Apr 12, 2020 at 20:42
  • Oh, about if you multiple chain multiple Ta-Forms ? I know, sorry. It wasn't really meant to ask a new question, but provide my own thoughts on the subject. I'll hide it to not mislead the purpose of my answer
    – ASD_ASD
    Apr 12, 2020 at 21:38
  • 1
    Why does this answer contain a spoiler?
    – istrasci
    Jun 2, 2022 at 18:47
  • 1
    @istrasci for the reason discussed in the previous comments. It should probably be edited out. Jun 6, 2022 at 3:49

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