Level 1 Lesson 17 / Past Tense / -았/었/였어요 (했어요)

In this TTMIK lesson, we are looking at the past tense of the Korean language. By knowing how to change your verbs into the past tense, you will be able to talk about what you did yesterday, who you met last week, and etc. If you already understand how to change verbs into the present tense, using the past tense will be a breeze. And if you are still not sure how to use the present tense, don’t worry! We are going to review that in this lesson too. Be sure to ask us any questions you have in the comment box! Thank you!

And after listening to the lesson, practice making your own sample sentences!

Sample question: 어제 뭐 했어요? [eo-je mwo hae-sseo-yo?] “What did you do yesterday?”

You can download both the PDF lesson notes and the MP3 audio track for this lesson below, and if you want to learn with our various textbooks and workbooks, you can get them on our online bookstore at MyKoreanStore.com. If you have any questions about this lesson, please leave us comments below!

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Go to the Grammar Curriculum page to see all of our grammar lessons.

Level 1 Lesson 17 / Past Tense / -았/었/였어요 (했어요)
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  • Nathalie

    학교 갔어요

  • Josevf

    Should i say 저는 막었어요 , and i have a question how will you able to identify where to put the ㅆ , 어 in the verb for example 자다 How will you going to identify where you will ㅆ , 어 i think i should put them into middle if the word is 3 syllables and if the word is 2 syllables i should put on the beginning , please answer , jebal! Kamsahamnida 🙂

  • Sana ShyShyShy

    저는 시작했어요 these lessons about 1 month ago and 한국어 연습했어요 every day and I still do. These lessons really help 감사합니다 TTMIK!!!
    I now understand the past tense and the future tense but I still have some words i’m confused about such as ->
    서두르다 (Does it turn to 서두르었어요 or 서두렀어요?)
    닫다 (I never figured out how to turn this verb into past tense)
    모르다 (How does this verb become 몰랐어요 and or 몰라요) I didn’t get it as past or future tense.
    Aside from that I learned a lot in these past lessons 정말 감사합니다! 안녕히 계세요~

    • salsa

      hey do you have instagram or line messenger? it would be nice to be able to discuss these korean lessons with you^^

    • Sana ShyShyShy

      오모~ I want to as well but my phone broke and i’m on my laptop atm ㅜㅜ i’ll notify you when I get my phone fixed:)

    • salsa

      ohh okay!!^^

    • Samantha Lee

      maybe you should make a kakao chat group chat?

    • salsa

      do you have one?

  • Dordi


  • Dordi

    Hi, My name is Dordi and I have started learning Korean from your amazing website but I have a problem at Level 1 Lesson 17(Past tense) you have said in your PDF file that
    (( Verb stems ending with vowels other than ㅗ or ㅏ are followed by 었어요 [eo-sseo-yo].

  • Rose

    어제일, 글세요…. 기억해 못해요…~~~~ 잤어요(?)….did i say that right? ㅋㅋㅋ

  • amany

    감사합니다 ^^

  • Scarlett

    I want to ask if there is any present tense for 끝나다? If yes, when will we use it?

  • Somaᶰᶥᵐ ♥ 希

    크다 >> 커요 >> 컸어요
    to be big >> It is big >> it was big.

    • Rim 림

      How’s it come 잡다>>잡았어요 >> 잡아요?? And 팔다>> 팔았어요 >> 팔아요? It doesn’t 잡어요/잡었어요 & 팔어요/팔었요!!? Why is it like that?

  • Anna Lvova

    어제 한국어 공부했어요. с:

  • Ethan

    어세 사었어요

    • Caroline

      Hi! If you wanna say “I bought milk yesterday”, I believe you can say 어제 우유를 샀어요. 🙂

  • Qistina Izni

    어제 나 한국어 ttmik 공부했어요 yesterday I study korean language on ttimik.

    Idk how you want to say ‘on ttmik’ in korean so i just put ttmik. I think it translated like this ‘yesterday i study korean language ttmik.’

    Is my sentences in korean correct though?
    If not, what is the right way to say?

  • Kage Ryu

    If 오다 [o-da] turn into 왔어요 [wa-sseo-yo] for the past tense, does it still turn into [wa] for present tense? 왔요 [wa-yo]?

    • Carmen Cristoloveanu

      yes. the present form is 와 / 와요. even 옵니다 in extremely formal settings.

    • Kage Ryu

      Thank you 🙂

  • Far Ah BenNai

    어제 잘잤어요?

    응 , 잘잤어! 너도 잘잤어~?

    넹!! 잘잤어요^^

  • Maureen Pavlik

    This past weekend, 친구 (and I) 놀았어요. 라면를 먹었어요. 아니매를 봤어요. 태연의 CD 샀어요.
    (This past weekend, I hung out with my friend. We ate ramen. We watched anime. I bought Taeyeon’s CD.)
    Forgive me for not knowing how to properly use particles correctly. All I know about 을/를 is that it has something to do with verbs. ^^;;; Corrections welcome!

    • Fra :)

      을/를 are the object particles and you put 을 when the noun has an ending consonant, 를 when it doesn’t have a final consonant. So, in the sentence, it was 라면을 (라면 ends with a final consonant). They explain these in lesson 2, second level. I hope I have helped you at least a little ^^

    • Maureen Pavlik


    • Katie

      Like for 태연

  • Linh Nguyen Hoang

    어제 김밥를 먹었어요.

  • Carmen Cristoloveanu

    Hello, can you please explain the difference between:
    요리사가 부엌에서 요리했다.
    요리사가 부엌에서 요리했어요.
    To me they both mean “the chef cooked in the kitchen”. But it seems the preferred usage is the 1st and I would like to know why.


    • SimFerAtzul

      I think that the first one is wrong because of 다.

    • Feliciana

      Both are correct, but just the second sentence is with respect and politeness, so should be used to the elder or someone is in the higher social status.

  • Trucie bedford

    Ok, my question pertains to the past and present tense chapters in level one. in cases of words verb stems ending in ㄹ, do we just automatically use the rule for the ones ending in vowels sounds? This has me a bit confused. So nol-da and pal-da end in ayo and asseoyo?

    • Carmen Cristoloveanu

      the rules do not apply to the last letter, but to the vowel in the last syllable of the verb stem. so, 팔다 (to sell) has the stem 팔 which does have ㄹ as the last letter but the vowel in it is ㅏ. so the conjugation follows the 1st rule in the lessons you mentioned and the form becomes:
      팔아요 for the present tense and
      팔았어요 for the past tense.

      I hope this helps

    • Trucie bedford

      That’s what I kind of figured. Thank you so much for clarifying for me:-)

  • Lajean Justice

    어제, 일했어요. 그 일해기는 재미없었어요. 그런데, 요가도 했어요. 요가는 재미있어요! c:

  • Lynnae Strait

    “You should come to Korea…

    …and fight with me.”


  • Chess8Ko


  • Gareth Del Rey Vanstone

    Hey guys, excellent teaching so far!!! 😉
    I just have a question about when u explained the verb “Jeok-da”. You asked what does the verb stem end in. Then you said it ends in the vowel “o”, but it ends in k/g. I don’t understand this because it wasn’t explained beforehand about any very endings that end in a consonant.
    Can you please help?
    Thank you! ^-^

    • baepsae

      the conjugation is always based on the last vowel, the last consonant doesn’t matter here. Hence they point out the last vowel “eo”. Hope this helps 🙂

  • iamperryboy

    So are the items 5-7 (from the examples) the irregularities or exceptions that they talked about from Lesson 16?

  • SimFerAtzul

    감사합니다! 공부하였어요.
    It’s good? I wanted to say: Thanks! I’ll study.

    • Renhye

      No, you said you studied in past tense.
      감사합니다! 내가 공부할게요! would be what you wanted to say. This will be taught in later lessons so dw

    • SimFerAtzul

      Oh 감사합니다! I just didn’t remember that xd 저송함니다!

    • David Crouse


    • SimFerAtzul


  • SimFerAtzul

    Hey! Stob it! I love Jin. <3

  • Hannah

    Hi! I’m very confused with 재미있었어요. Why is it not 재몄어요? Because I thought that since 기다리=기다렸어요 then it would be the same. Can someone help me with the explaination please!

    • TinyPetRock

      Hello! The reason for that is because 재미있었어요’s form in the dictionary is 재미있다 and because in the last syllable of the stem (재미있) there is a consonant, not a vowel, it does not merge the way it does with 기다리(다). And you create 재미있었어요 because ‘ㅣ’ is not ㅏ or ㅗ. Normally (if the stem ends in a vowel) ㅣ + ㅓbecomes ㅕ, but again because 재미있 last letter, so to speak, is a consonant it does not merge that way.
      I hope it makes sense and even though I THINK I’m right, please if someone is 100% sure – correct me!

    • Helena Blažková

      That’s because 재미 is a noun, it means “fun” and 있어요 means “there is” in this case, so the expression you use is 재미 있어요, meaning “to be interesting”. In the pdf for a lesson 10 is written: “**Notice how the two words are even written without any space inbetween. That’s because it has already become an expression used daily”
      So the verb here is – to have, to exist, to be.
      Therefore 있 + 었어요 = 있었어요 and the expression is 재미있었어요

  • Andreva

    운덩 햇ㅅ어요 for some reason I can’t put both ㅅ underneath pls correct me if I’m wrong I wanted to say that today I did exercise

  • Elea

    Is the following sentence correct?
    오늘 영화 봤어요.
    (Today I saw a movie.)

    • Anna

      Should be 오늘 영화를 봤어요

  • Neco_Coneco

    어제는 동급생들도 식당에 갔어요. 타코야키를 머겄어요.

    Is this sentence natural? この文章は自然ですか?이 문장은 자연스럽습니까?

    • Feliciana

      Should be 어제 동급생들과 식당에 갔어요. 타코야키를 먹었어요.

  • Ottilia Vikdahl

    Why is the ㅆ sometimes pronounced as t’ and sometime as s (as in this case). I thought that ㅆ as a ending consonant was pronounced as t’?

    • 프란크

      Because it carries to the following vowel. For example, in 했어요 => 해써요 the ㅆ goes where the ㅇ was. It replaces it.