Last time, you learned how to express past tense and perfect present tense like “昨日ケーキを食べました (I ate cake yesterday)” and “さっきケーキを食べました (I have eaten cake just now).” In this lesson, we would like to focus on one of the special functions of the ta-form: to be treated as an adjective.
Explanation for How to Let the Ta-from Modify Nouns
You have already learned some ways to modify nouns like relative clauses. In fact, the ta-form is deeply involved with modification. First of all, let’s complete the conjugation rule. Nouns and adjectives also have the ta-form.
The Conjugation Rule
Nouns and Na-adjectives
The basic idea remains the same as verbs with the ta-form. When you use polite speech, you replace す with した in affirmative and add でした in negative sentences. When the last character is い, you replace い with かった. What is new here is that you replace だ with だった when you conjugate nouns and na-adjective in casual speech. And, you add です with i-adjectives in the ta-form (寒かった) to express polite speech (寒かったです). This is where learners often make a mistake. Keep in mind that “寒いでした” is wrong.
|昔、私は医者（だった / でした）。
I was a doctor a long time ago.
|昨日は元気じゃ（なかった / ありませんでした）。
As for yesterday, [I] was not fine.
The summer in the last year was very hot.
|旅行は楽しく（なかった / ありませんでした）。
As for the travel, [it] was not fun.
Of course, they can be used as a predicate. As you learned before, you can be more formal or colloquial in negative sentences like this;
|(Formal) 昨日は元気では（なかった / ありませんでした）。
Now, let’s move on to the main topic: how to modify nouns by using the ta-form
The Ta-form Used in Noun Phrase or Relative Clauses
Relative Clause and Nominalizers
|和服（だ / です）
|Relative Clause: Topic/Subject
|Clothing that Tanaka-san bought is a Japanese clothing.
|本当（だ / です）
|Relative Clause: Topic/Subject
|[The fact that] Tanaka-san was famous is true.
Both relative clauses and nominalizers allow you to connect the ta-form with nouns or こと・の as you can with the plain form. The conjugation and the conjugation remain the same as the ones used as a predicate. Here are more examples.
|昨日飲んだジュースを覚えて（いる / いますか）？
Do [you] remember the juice which [we] drank yesterday?
Meals which [my] mother made are delicious.
|タバコを吸ったことを後悔して（いる / います）。
[I] regret [that I] smoked.
|去年寒かったことを忘れて（いる / います）。
[We] forget that [it] was cold last year.
|田中さんが女優だったことに（驚いた / 驚きました）。
[I] have been surprised with [the fact] that Tanaka-san was an actress.
That’s simple, isn’t it? Be careful; however, you need to pay attention to the following three points.
有名だった人: person who was famous
元気じゃなかった犬: dog which was not fine
寒かった冬: winter which was cold
楽しくなかった旅行: travel which was not fun
Since adjectives can directly modify nouns, the above examples are natural in Japanese. Let’s say that they are past-adjectives and indicate constant states in the past.
元気じゃなかった犬: dog which was not fine [in the past]
元気な犬: dog which is fine [now]
Essentially, the examples above have the same meaning. Since adjectives indicate constant states, using adjectives in past tense indicates that the attributes have already changed at present.
[It] was strongly raining yesterday
This sentence expresses a continuous action in the past. That is to say, the constant state: “strong rain” doesn’t change. Thus, 強い should be used.
The strong rain has finally stopped.
This sentence expresses the end of the action. That is to say, the constant state: “strong rain” has changed. Thus, 強かった should be used. Here are more examples.
|寒い冬は嫌い（だった / でした）。
[I] disliked cold winters
|寒かった冬は（終わった / 終わりました）。
The cold winter has finished.
|昨日、有名な歌手に（会った / 会いました）。
[I] met a famous singer yesterday.
|有名だった歌手はもう引退して（いた / いました）。
The famous singer had already retired.
2. Verbs of the Ta-form Treated as Adjectives
太った人: person who got fat
痩せた人: person who got thin
かばんを持った人: person who held the bag
着物を着た人: person who put on a kimono
This usage is applicable for only verbs which can express resultant states. For such verbs, the plain form indicates momentary actions and the te-form + いる indicates ongoing states. That is to say, 太った means the momentary action taken in the past. Let’s see the following chart.
After the action: 太った, the state: 太っている has been on going. Therefore, In Japanese, we essentially regard “太った人: person who got fat“ and “太っている人: person who is fat” as the same meaning and they can be roughly translated as “fat person” in English. Here are more examples.
|私は太った人が好き（なんだ / なんです）。
I like a fat person.
|着物を着た人が歩いて（いる / います）。
A person who wears a kimono is walking.
|大きいかばんを持った人が（いる / います）。
There is a person who has a big bag.
3. Nouns Treated as Adjectives
先生だった田中さん: Tanaka-san who was a teacher
医者だった井上さん: Inoue-san who was a doctor
宝物だったおもちゃ: Toy which was a treasure
This is part of Japanese relative clauses. Only when the tense in relative clauses is past, you can directly connect nouns with nouns.
Tanaka-san who was a teacher is smart.
|医者だった井上さんは金持ち（だ / です）。
Inoue-san who was a doctor is rich.
|これが宝物だったおもちゃ（だ / です）。
This is the toy which was my treasure.
- You can directly connect the ta-form with nouns in relative clauses and こと・の in nominalization.
- Past-adjectives require facts that constant states have changed.
- Verbs which express resultant states can be treated as adjectives.
- Nouns in past tense can be connected with nouns in relative clauses.
Although you have learned several grammatical points here, you can place a priority on the No.3 in the summary. That’s one of the highest frequently used expressions in Japanese. Actually, the ta-form still has another important function, which expresses discovery and recall. Next, you will learn the last function of the ta-form.
Past Tense and Present Perfect Tense with the Ta-form
Another Function of the Ta-form: Discovery and Recall