Wednesday, January 30, 2019

悪かった, Warukatta - Meaning in Japanese

In Japanese, warukatta 悪かった often means "sorry for that" or "it was his fault," although, literally, warukatta means "was bad." It's the past form of the i-adjective warui 悪い, "bad," which can used to say "sorry" and blame people for things.

Example of 悪かった used in manga.
Manga: Holy Land (chapter 39)


When warukatta shows up alone, it pretty much always means "sorry for that." It's an informal way of apologizing, like suman すまん and gomen ごめん.

Technically, warukatta isn't an actual apology, an admission of fault: "what I did was bad," i.e. "my bad." That implies you're sorry for it.

悪かった quote from manga Holy Land (chapter 39)
Manga: Holy Land (chapter 39)

  • Context: this guy is sorry for something he did.
  • warukatta
    Sorry for that.

The only difference between warukatta and warui used in apologizing is that, since warukatta is in the past, it implies you're sorry for something you did or have done in the past, whereas the word warui tends to be used for something you did very recently, like moments ago.

If the adjective is say someone "was bad," it means it's blaming them for something they did.
  • kare ga warukatta 彼が悪かった
    He was bad.
    It was his fault.

When the adjective says something that was done "was bad," it means the speaker is admitting that was a mistake.
  • are wa warukatta あれは悪かった
    That was bad.
    I'm sorry for that. I shouldn't have done that. That was a mistake.

Set phrases and compound words that contain the word warui 悪い are sometimes inflected to past by replacing it with warukatta. For example:
  • un ga warui 運が悪い
    "Luck is bad."
    Bad luck. Unlucky.
  • un ga warukatta 運が悪かった
    "Luck was bad."
    You were unlucky. (that's why bad stuff happened to you!)
  • naka ga warui 仲が悪い
    "Relationship is bad."
    [They're] not in good terms.
  • naka ga warukatta 仲が悪かった
    "Relationship was bad."
    [They] were not in good terms. (but now they're friends again.)

Lastly, warukatta can also just mean "was bad" normally, as you would expect, since it's the past form of warui.
  • tenki ga warui 天気が悪い
    The weather is bad.
  • tenki ga warukatta 天気が悪かった
    The weather was bad.

Further Reading

See Also

  • warui 悪い
    For other uses of warui and, consequently, warukatta.
  • warii 悪ぃ
    Relaxed pronunciation, also often used to say "sorry."

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