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Past tense of "do"... shita or dekita?

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Past tense of "do"... shita or dekita?

Postby JoeStrout » Wed 10.03.2012 10:34 am

I'm going through another program (Japanese Through Anime), and have been left hopelessly confused about how to express "did".

I thought I understood that suru was "do" and dekita was "can do". But then the instructor quizzes us on how to say "Hokage did it?", and gives the correct answer as "Hokage-sama ga dekita ka".

There ensued on the lesson forums a longish and not very helpful thread about whether maybe this is actually correct (in which case, it should've been explained). Or, maybe Ken-sensei simply made a mistake. He hasn't responded to my email about it, and I'm more confused than ever.

In searching for a definitive answer, I found your pages on dekiru and suru, and they seem really well written and thorough. So I'm hopeful I can get a clear answer here.

Many thanks,
- Joe
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Re: Past tense of "do"... shita or dekita?

Postby Shiroisan » Wed 10.03.2012 7:29 pm

I assume when you wrote ”できた” as "can do". You meant できる。
do (present) する can do present (できる)
do (past) した can do (past) できた 


Anyways as to your question, I need more context as to what the hokage was doing to answer that. できる has several meanings.

-can do
-occur
-be ready
-to come into existence/ be made

I would be careful on how you use the bottom three though.
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Re: Past tense of "do"... shita or dekita?

Postby micahcowan » Fri 10.05.2012 5:37 pm

past tense できた is frequently used to mean "did", in the sense "was able to do", "accomplished". It's often used where in English we'd use "did".

Like, ごはんできたよ could be used for "the rice is done" (literally, "I was able to do the rice"). Or 宿題できたの?, "did you do your homework" (literally, "were you able to do your homework"?) I think in many of the cases I can think of where できた works, 完成した might also work as well; but the feeling/connotations/flow are different; できた would sound more natural in most cases, and would have a more direct conntation of "did", as opposed to 完成 which is more strongly "completed".

(these are my impressions; I'm not Japanese)
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Re: Past tense of "do"... shita or dekita?

Postby Shiroisan » Fri 10.05.2012 8:50 pm

micahcowan wrote:Like, ごはんできたよ could be used for "the rice is done" (literally, "I was able to do the rice"). Or 宿題できたの?, "did you do your homework" (literally, "were you able to do your homework"?)


I don't believe that's totally accurate... The "literally"s, I mean. the subject of the sentence in those contexts should normally be the homework and the meal.

Literally speaking "DINNER is ready". "My homework is done".

That's why when a new store is built, and you say あそこに新しい店ができたよ, your subject is not the person who built it, but the store itself.
Last edited by Shiroisan on Sat 10.06.2012 1:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Past tense of "do"... shita or dekita?

Postby Ongakuka » Fri 10.05.2012 11:21 pm

It makes it easier to grasp the meaning when we look at the kanji 出来る(できる) which reminds us of 出て来る(でてくる) 'come out of.' This kind of できる is different from the 'able to do' できる in my mind.

As to how far the nuance 'able to' exists I cannot say, for example ごはんできたよ certainly has a feeling of 'accomplishment' but in any case Shiroisan is absolutely right about the subject being the thing made as oppose to the person/people who made it.
なぜなら、おまえは・・・・・・人形だ
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