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~ます、ました、ません、ませんでした

~ます、ました、ません、ませんでした

You learned a number of verbs in this module. Have you noticed that all these verbs ended in ~ます?

The Japanese language has only 2 tenses, past and non-past, and ~ます ending is a non-past affirmative ending, so all verbs ending in ~ます indicate what you usually do or what you will do in the (near) future. That is あさごはんasagohanwo たべますtabemasu means “I eat breakfast” (as opposed to “I don’t eat breakfast”) or “I will eat breakfast (tomorrow).”

If you change ~ます into ~ました, that becomes a past ending, so all verbs ending in ~ました indicate something that a person did in the past.

If you change ~ます into ~ません, that becomes a negative, non-past ending, so all verbs ending in ~ません indicate something a person don’t usually do.

If you add でした into a ~ません sentence, that becomes a negative past ending, so all verbs ending in ~ませんでした indicate something a person didn’t do in the past.

tenseaffirmativenegative
non-pastあさごはんasagohanwo たべますtabemasu
I/someone eat(s) breakfast.
あさごはんasagohanwo たべませんtabemasen
I/someone do(es)n’t eat breakfast.
pastあさごはんasagohanwo たべましたtabemashita
I/someone ate breakfast.
あさごはんasagohanwo たべませんtabemasen でしたdeshita
I/someone didn’t eat breakfast.

Explaining Video

Suggested Activities

Write a few sentences each of the following in Japanese.

  • what you usually do
  • what you usually don’t do
  • what you did in the past
  • what you didn’t do in the past

Do the first exercise in the Part IIII of the Module 4 of the Moodle Course.

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