Korean Past Perfect Tense | ~았/었었어요
In this lesson, you will learn how to make the past perfect tense in Korean. If you are not familiar with what the Korean past perfect tense is, it’s used to express something which happened in the past but does not continue to the present. For example, 제가 날씬했었어요 means ‘I was slim (and I am not slim now).
How To Make The Past Perfect Tense In Korean
The past perfect tense in Korean is formed by attaching ~았/었었어요 to an adjective or verb. By adding ~았/었었어요 to an adjective or verb, you are expressing that something occurred in the past but did not continue. Let’s look at some example sentences.
- 영국에 갔었어요. = I’ve been to England. (I went to England, and now I’m back).
- 한국에 살았었어요. = I’ve lived in Korea (I used to live in Korea, and I don’t live there now.)
How To Conjugate The Past Perfect Tense In Korean
If you remember how to conjugate the Korean past tense, conjugating the past perfect tense is easy. Here are the conjugation rules when making the Korean past perfect tense:
- If the preceding verb/adjective ends in ㅏ or ㅗ, add 았었어요. (e.g. 가다 + 았었어요 = 갔었어요)
- If the preceding verb/adjective doesn’t end in ㅏ or ㅗ, add 었었어요. (e.g. 읽다 + 었었어요 = 읽었었어요)
- If the preceding verb/adjective ends in 하다, add 였었어요. (e.g. 일하다 + 였었어요 = 일했었어요)
Difference Between ~았/었어요 and ~았/었었어요
The basic past form (았/었어요) simply expresses that something occurred in the past, whereas the past perfect form (~았/었었어요) expresses that something occurred in the past and does not continue to the present. Compare these two sentences:
- 은정씨는 작년에 영국에 왔어요. = Eunjung came to England last year.
- 은정씨는 작년에 영국에 왔었어요. = Eunjung came to England last year (and is no longer there).
The first sentence expresses that 은정 came to England last year, and that’s all it expresses. It is unclear whether she is still in England or whether she is somewhere else. The second sentence, on the other hand, makes it clear that 은정 came to England last year and is no longer in England.