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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  • Thea Natalia

    I know how to write ‘I do,’ but how do I write, ‘I did’?

    • maryam


  • Kim Namjoon

    to say ‘I watched BTS Gayo 17’ in korean would you say
    방탄소년단 가요 십칠 보았어요

    • mxc9219

      봤어요* (don’t know about the rest)

    • Kim Namjoon

      thank you

  • Lucie Raeck

    – 고양이 보었어요. 보었어요?
    – 저 고양이예요?
    – 네.
    – 어, 네. 보어요.
    Is that right?

    • mxc9219

      by 보었어요 you mean the verb 보다? 보다 is conjugate as 봐요 in present tense and 봤어요 in past tense.

    • Lucie Raeck

      아, 네 ! 정말 고마워요!

    • mxc9219

      Btw 보았어요 it’s also correct but 봤어요 it’s more common (:

  • Pia Rxttlxr


  • Nina Söllner

    I am confused.
    잡다. The verb stem is 잡, but why is it 잡아요 in the present tense? I thought I need to focus on the last letter of the stem which is b/p. I would have chosen 잡어요. Please help me, I would be very thankful!

    • disqus_U32PBwPGdp

      if i’m not mistaken, you have to look at the verb stem’s last VOWEL, not letter 🙂 so in this case, the last vowel is ㅏ, and that’s why the ending is 아요.

    • Jonathan

      If the verb stem is end in consonant and has (a) or (o) ..add (a)(yo)..
      But if without (a) or (o)..add (oe)(yo)..

    • Wolfgang Herz

      Just focus on the vowel

  • chere nicholas

    What is the Korean verb for “to work”, as in my job?

    • 케이라

      일하다 (il-ha-da)

  • mxc9219

    어제 시험 있어어요. 힘들어지만 할 수 있었어요.
    Yesterday I had a test. It was tough but I made it! (I mean I passed)

    • Jess L

      어제 시험을 있었어요. 어려웠지만 할 수있었어요. (I’m only learning, too, but I changed your sentence a little to match the vocabulary and grammar I’ve been studying.) After “exam” you can write the object participle “을”, and if your second sentence is in the past, both verbs before and after -지만 should be in the past tense. Can anyone else check mine?

    • Wolfgang Herz

      I would write 은 at the end tbh

  • Jess L

    어제 저는 한국 식당에 갔어요 “식당” is restaurant, and 에 is a location particle which basically means “to”. Yesterday, I went to a restaurant.

  • noor

    why is it 기다려요 and NOT 기다리어요? is it for easier pronunciation?

    • Wolfgang Herz

      이 + 어 = 여 , just listen – it makes sense

    • AlyPunk

      if you say it faster it is basically the same thing so they write it like that 🙂

  • chere nicholas

    Is this the correct way to say “I had a beer”? Did I use location + topic marking particles correctly?
    저는 맥주가 마시었어요

    • Mariam akishbaia

      저는 맥주가 마셨어요

  • chere nicholas

    I want to say, “Have they arrived yet?” , so will someone tell me if i’m close?
    여기 지금 도착했어요

    • Edwin Pujols

      One possible way:
      여러분 벌써 도착했어요?

      Or, if the context allows, just:

  • Mimi Maiga

    Hello everyone. How are you all? I am new to learning Korean and I’m on Level 1 Lesson 17. Please, I need a study buddy. I have Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook and Messenges. Two or more people can join. Let me know. My Facebook name is Mimi Maiga.

    • Laura

      Hi! I would like to study with you! 🙂

    • ForCHi

      Hello, I would also like to study with you

    • nam joong kyung

      me too. may I?

  • Edwin Pujols


  • energygapyan

    Actually, we look at the last vowel present in the verb. In 잡다 the last vowel used is ㅏ so we use 아요 resulting to 잡아요.

    • ForCHi

      Oh, I see. 감사합니다!!

  • Allyson

    in 쓰다 why it became 써요 and 썼어요? why not 쓰어요 and the past tense of it.

  • Kurt Grego Deanon Aquino

    나는 학교 갔어요 .. that’s what i did yesterday. Is my statement correct? hihi

  • nam joong kyung

    how will you say if it’s 가져가 if it’s in past tense? is it kajyeokaseoyeo?

  • Jim Awofadeju

    어제 책을 읽었어요.

  • Jim Awofadeju

    장문을 닫았습니다.
    I closed the window.

  • Liz

    영화는 봤어요.
    I watched a movie.

  • Pei-Yu Yeh

    텔레비젼은 봤어요.

  • Kenneth

    I’m sure you have caught it by now, but for others reading your comment….You look at the last vowel. Do not look at the ㅂ in 잡, only look at the fact that the last vowel is ㅏ, therefore it does take the 았어요 form.

  • Chantelle Streete

    Hello, I have a question. Does 끝나다 in past tense become 끝났어요 as it is a shortened version of 끝나았어요?

  • Kenjiro

    Does 내다 become 냈어요?? I got it from the example in lesson 24: 얼마 냈어요?

  • joyce

    Hi, I have a question.
    What’s the difference between 았/었어 and 았었/었었어?