I came across this sentence today and it stumped me a little.


The 場面に合った part I’m don’t understand, and why is it in past tense?

Thank you in advance!

  • 2
    場面に合った話し方 is "speech style which suits the scenario". I couldn't tell you why it's in past tense. Tense in relative clauses often mystifies me. Commented May 19, 2020 at 14:49

3 Answers 3


場面 is "scene/situation", and 合う is "to match/fit/accord". 場面に合う is "to fit the situation". Therefore, 場面に合った話し方 is "the way of speaking that fits the situation", "appropriate way of speaking for each scene", etc.

Regarding this た, it describes not 過去 (past tense) but something called 完了 (perfect aspect). It describes the continuation of the state as a result of an action. It's the fourth definition of デジタル大辞泉:

4 動作・作用の結果が存続している意を表す。…ている。…てある。「割れたガラス窓から風が吹き込む」

This type of た is often interchangeable with ている. Please see the following related questions:

合う, as well as its antonym 間違う, is an instant state-change verb. You may know you can say 合っています ("that's correct") and 間違っています ("that's wrong").

(By the way, the archaic version of this type of た is たり, not べし/べき. たる is the attributive form of たり, so 咲きたる桜 in archaic Japanese is 咲いた桜 or 咲いている桜 in modern Japanese.)

  • So how do you say 場面に合った話し方 in old Japanese? 合うたる話?
    – a20
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 21:02
  • 2
    @a20 Perhaps 合ひたる is better. (See example here)
    – naruto
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 21:12
  • Excellent answer thank you!
    – Dave07
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 7:00


This used be 合うべき Old/Middle Japanese べき is translated as 'should'.
When you think of 'should' is a past tense of 'shall'.

The way of talking which should fit into the situation.

And 場面に合う話し方 isn't too bad, either.

  • 4
    た used to be べき in old Japanese? Really?
    – naruto
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 2:01

It is basically "Before going to Japan I practiced speaking at various levels so that I could speak in various situations in Japan."

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