Past Tense 과거 시제

-었/았, and -았었/었었

They indicate the past action that happened in recent, but also express the completion of an action.
'았' is used if the stem ends in a bright vowel such as 'ㅏ' or 'ㅗ' while '었' is used when the stem ends in other vowels such as 'ㅓ', 'ㅡ', 'ㅐ', 'ㅜ', 'ㅔ' or 'ㅣ', etc.

The ending '-어요.' is used for the past tense. When the stem has a 받침 (syllable-final consonant), it becomes stem + 었/았다.

For polite speech, you need to add a honorific suffix '-(으)시' before 었/았. '-으시' is used when the stem ends in a consonant, while '-시' is used for the stem that ends in a vowel.


선생님께서 집에 오셨어요. The teacher came (my) home.
오다's stem is 오, so you add -(으)시 었/았어요 after 오.

부모님께서 공원에 가셨어요. (My) parents went to a park.
가다's stem is 가, so you add it after '가'

Verb   Past Tense
보다(to see) 았 + 어요. 보았어요. → 봤어요.
받다(to receive) 았 + 어요. 받았어요.
하다(to do) 았 + 어요. 했어요. NOT 핬어요.
먹다(to eat) 었 + 어요. 먹었어요.
찾다(to find) 았 + 어요. 찾았어요.
세다(to count) 었 + 어요. 세었어요. → 셌어요.
타다(to ride) 았 + 어요. 타았어요. → 탔어요.

The polite speech for 었/았 Since -시 is not a bright vowel, you must use 었 for the polite speech.

Verb   Past Tense
보다(to see)시 + 었 + 어요.보시었어요. → 보셨어요.
받다(to receive)으시 + 었 + 어요.받으시었어요. → 받으셨어요.
하다(to do)시 + 었 + 어요.하시었어요. → 하셨어요.
먹다(to eat)Please see below the table.
찾다(to find)으시 + 었 + 어요. 찾으시었어요. → 찾으셨어요.
세다(to count] 시 + 었 + 어요.세시었어요. → 세셨어요.
타다(to ride] 시 + 었 + 어요.타시었어요. → 타셨어요.

*For 먹다. "to eat", Koreans don't say 먹으셨어요. for someone who's older than the speaker (to the elderly). Instead, you must say 잡수셨어요. (잡수다). For someone who's a little bit older than you, but not the elderly, use 드셨어요. (드시다). Please go to the honorific expression page for more information.


차에 탔어요. (I) rode a car. (means I just rode a car, or I'm riding a car)
소문 들었어. (I) heard the rumor. (means I just heard the rumor, or I heard the rumor recently.)
해리한테 전화왔어. (You) have a phone call from Harry. (means you have a phone call from Harry right now, or Harry just called a moment ago.)

-았었/었었 Double Past Tense

They indicate a past action or situation that was completed long time ago.

Verb   Double Past Tense
사다(to buy) 았+었+어요. 샀었어요. bought (long before)
받다(to receive) 았+었+어요. 받았었어요. received (long before)
만나다(to meet] 았+었+어요. 만났었어요. met (long before)
보다(to see) 았+었+어요. 봤었어요. saw (long before)
가다(to go) 았+었+어요. 갔었어요. went (long before and no longer there)
오다(to come) 았+었+어요. 왔었어요. came (long before and no longer here)
크다(big) 었+었+어요. 컸었어요. was big
짧다(short) 았+었+어요. 짧았었어요. was short

학교에 왔어요. (I) came school, / (I) am at school.
학교에 왔었어요. (I) was at school. (at that time and am no longer at school)

친구를 만났어요. (I) met a friend, / (I) am meeting a friend.
친구를 만났었어요. (I) met a friend. (long before)

모자를 썼어요. (I) wore a hat, / (I) am wearing a hat.
모자를 썼었어요. (I) wore a hat. (long before) / (I) used to wear a hat.

시집을 읽었어요. (I) read a poetry, / (I) am reading a poetry.
시집을 읽었었어요. (I) read a poetry. (long before) / (I) used to read a poetry.

(자동차) 운전을 했었어요. (I) drove a car. / (I) am driving a car.
(자동차) 운전을 했었었어요. (I) drove a car. (long before) / (I) used to drive a car.

티셔츠가 작았어요. The T-shirt was small.
티셔츠가 작았었어요. The T-shirt was small. (and is no longer small) / The t-shirt used to be small.

결혼했어요. I got married. (and I'm still married)
결혼했었어요. I got married. (I was once married, and I'm single now)

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