Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Hiroko here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Japanese questions.
The question for this lesson is…What’s the difference between 行きました(ikimashita) and 行っていました(itte imashita)?
行きました(ikimashita) is the simple past tense of the verb, iku, meaning “to go.” Therefore, it simply means “I went.”
The phrase 行っていました(itte imashita) has the -te form of iku plus います(imasu), which is often used for progressive states. Therefore, 行っていました(itte imashita) means “went somewhere and continued to be there.” As the phrase is in the past, the acts of both going and staying have already occurred.
More simply, 行きました(ikimashita) answers the questions, 夏休みはどこに行きましたか(Natsu-yasumi wa doko ni ikimashita ka.) or 夏休みは何をしましたか(Natsu-yasumi wa nani o shimashita ka.), meaning “Where did you go during summer vacation?” or “What did you do during summer vacation?” 行っていました(itte imashita) answers, 夏休みの間、どこに行っていましたか(Natsu-yasumi no aida, doko ni itte imashita ka.) or 夏休みの間、何をしていましたか(Natsu-yasumi no aida, nani o shite imashita ka.), Literally, “Where have you been during summer vacation?” or “What were you doing during summer vacation?”
Let’s go through some examples so you can learn how to use 行きました(ikimashita) and 行っていました(itte imashita) correctly.
First, let’s do an example with 行きました(ikimashita) --
Q:夏休み、どこに行きましたか。(Natsu-yasumi, doko ni ikimashita ka.)
A:東大寺に行きました。(Tōdai-ji ni ikimashita.)
Q: “Where did you go on summer vacation?”
A: “I went to the Todaiji temple.”
Here, the question is only asking about an event that occurred in the past, so we need to use 行きました(ikimashita).
Now, let’s do an example with 行っていました(itte imashita)--
The question is:夏休みは、何をしていましたか。(Natsu-yasumi wa, nani o shite imashita ka.)
The answer: 医療ボランティアとして、事故でけがした人々を助けていました。(Iryō borantia to shite, jiko de kega shita hito-bito o tasukete imashita.)
Q: What were you doing during summer vacation?
A: As medical volunteer, I was helping injured people because of accident.
In this situation, the person is asking about the continued state of the action; “What were you doing…” That’s why we have to use 行っていました(itte imashita), in this case.
~ていました(~te imashita) can describe the progressive action or state that occurred at one point in the past, but it also means an action or state continued for some time. This is the big difference between any simple past verb and progressive past verb.
How was this lesson? Did you get everything? Make sure to get on over to JapanesePod101.com for more practice!
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
またね![mata ne!] See you!