You have already learned several ways to express past actions in Korean, such as using the -았/었/였어요 sentence ending for plain past tense sentences and -(으)ㄴ verb ending to modify a noun with an action verb. In this lesson, we are introducing something that is similar to -(으)ㄴ, but a little bit different.
-던 = N + that (someone) used to + V
When you add -던 at the end of a verb stem, it expresses that you “used to” do or be something. The difference between -(으)ㄴ and -던 is that -던 implies that the past action or state did not continue or get completed.
For example, with the verb 가다 (to go), if you say “간 곳”, it means a place that “you went to” in the past, but if you say “가던 곳”, it means that “you used to go there” but somehow, the act of going there came to an end and did not continue.
With the verb 보다 (to see), if you say “본 영화”, it means a move that you “watched” before, but if you say “보던 영화”, it implies that you did not finish it.
-던 and -았/었/였던
With action verbs, it is sufficient to just say -던, but you can make the meaning of the past tense stronger by adding -았/었/였. With descriptive verbs, it is almost always more natural to use -았/었/였던.
예쁘던 < 예뻤던
작던 < 작았던
비싸던 < 비쌌던
1. 예전에 제가 자주 가던 곳이에요.
= I used to frequently go to this place in the past.
= It’s a place that I often used to go to before.
(ref. 예전에 제가 자주 간 곳이에요. = I often went to this place in the past.)
2. 예뻤던 경은 씨가 지금은 …
= Kyeong-eun, who used to be pretty, is now...
(→ 예쁜 (x), 예쁘던(x))
3. 작년에는 키가 작았던 석진 씨가 지금은 키가 커요.
= Seokjin, who used to be short, is now tall.
(→ 작은 (x), 작던(x))
4. 친했던 친구들이 지금은 다 외국에 살아요.
= The friends I used to be close to are all living overseas now.
(→ 친한 (x), 친하던(x))
5. 지난 주에 이야기하던 거예요.
= This is what we were talking about last week.
(ref. 지난 주에 이야기한 거예요. = This is what we talk about last week.)