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과거 시제 Past tense



-었/았, and -았었/었었

They indicates the past action that happened in recent, but also expresses the completion of an action. '았' is used if the stem ends in a bright vowel such as 'ㅏ', or 'ㅗ'. '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.

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 indicates the 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



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


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


3. 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.


4. 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.


5. (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.


6. 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.


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


한글 Korean Alphabet

Syllable-Final Consonants


기본 한국어 Basic Korean

Basic Languages
Character Structure and Stem
Honorific Expression
Syllable Stress and Intonation
Word Order and Plural


필수 한국어 Essential Korean

Asking and Telling time
Numbers and Counters


문법 Grammars

Irregular Verbs
Past Tense

재미있는 자료 Fun Stuff

Random Korean Names [F]
Random Korean Names [M]
Themed Dictionary
Tongue Twisters