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Grammar Korean For Everyone Korean Lessons

Korean Verbs and Conjugation Rules : PRESENT -아/-어/-아요/-어요/-ㅂ니다/-습니다

KOREAN VERBS AND CONJUGATION RULES : PRESENT

CONTINUED FROM Complete Beginner Lesson – GRAMMAR : IMITATING WORDS BAM 쾅! SWOOSH 휙! GRRRR 으르렁! AND MANY MORE

So far we’ve learned how to read, write, pronounce Hangul, and developed an understanding of Korean sentence structure, including topic/subject/object markers, as well as predicates (verb and adjective)! With that, you’ve laid out the founding stones of Korean language, and we can build a beautiful house upon that.

These are some of the characteristics of Korean verb conjugation rules:

  • The basic, unconjugated form ends in 다

For example, 먹다 (to eat) / 달리다 (to run) / 자다 (to sleep) / 읽다 (to read) they all end in 다.

Korean verbs (and adjectives for that matter, as learned previously) are easy to spot!

Building upon this concept is that

  • To conjugate a Korean verb, the first step is to separate the verb stem from the 다 ending.

*Don’t worry about past/present and polite/casual formality thing for now. We’ll cover them later.

  • Unlike English, you don’t have to worry about the subject of the sentence when conjugating verbs!

For example, we say ‘I sleep” and “she sleeps”, but in Korean, the verb stays the same across all subjects!

Seriously, how cool is that?

나는 달린다 – I run 그녀는 달린다 – She runs | It’s 달린다 for both 나 I and 그녀 she in Korean.

Another unique aspect of Korean is formality, because there are different conjugation rules depending on who you talk to.

Casual Formality

  • From someone older to younger (e.g., parents to children)
  • Between friends, siblings, people of same age (after building intimacy)

Polite Low Formality

  • People you’re unacquainted with
  • From someone to younger with respect (kindergarten/high school teacher to students)

Polite High Formality

  • Official documents
  • Between adults (e.g., professor and college student)
  • Public service announcement

Let’s look at 7 most common tenses used in Korean and their examples!

  • Present / Past / Future / Inquisitive Present / Inquisitive Past / Inquisitive Future / Propositive

There are, however, more ways of expression (subtle differences in nuance) than those, but studying the most common ones listed above will give you a solid understanding of the rules!

KOREAN VERBS AND CONJUGATION RULES : PRESENT

  • Drop the 다 ending from the verb stem
  • Add 아요 if the verb ends in a vowel ㅏor ㅗ. 놀다 (to play) → 놀아요
  • Add 어요 if the last vowel of the verb is anything else. 얼다 (to freeze) → 얼어요
  • Following the rules above, If the verb stem ends in a vowel, the 아 or 어 that you add to the verb stem will combine with the previous syllable. 보다 (to see) -> 보아요 -> 봐요 (*보 is the verb stem)
  • The rules above determine whether 아 or 어 is used in the casual form or 아요 or 어요 is used in the polite form.

Casual formality

Verb (ending in ㅏ/ㅗ) + 아
Verb (ending in anything else) + 어

Polite Low Formality

Verb (ending inㅏ/ㅗ) + 아요
Verb (ending in anything else) + 어요

Polite High Formality

Verb (ending in a vowel) +ㅂ니다
Verb (ending in a consonant) + 습니다

EXAMPLE)

가다 — to go
Casual formality: 가
Polite low formality: 가요
Polite high formality: 갑니다 (가+ㅂ니다)

읽다 — to read
Casual formality: 읽어
Polite low formality: 읽어요
Polite high formality: 읽습니다

하다 — to do
Casual formality: 해
Polite low formality: 해요
Polite high formality: 합니다 (하+ㅂ니다)

Instead of 하 and 하요, 하다 verb conjugates a little differently, into 해 and 해요. It’s one of the most frequently used verbs in Korean, so get used to this!

Also, unlike other verbs, 하다 verb is always combined with a noun to make it a verb. For example, 공부하다 = “doing studying”, 노래하다 “doing singing”.

KOREAN VERBS AND CONJUGATION RULES : PRESENT
SAMPLE (PRACTICE QUIZ)

Convert the following base form verbs into the three formality forms (present continuous).

사다 — to buy

Casual formality:

___________________

Polite low formality:

___________________

Polite high formality:

___________________

입다 — to wear

Casual formality:

___________________

Polite low formality:

___________________

Polite high formality:

___________________

먹다 — to eat

Casual formality:

___________________

Polite low formality:

___________________

Polite high formality:

___________________

ANSWER

사다 -> 사 / 사요 / 삽니다

입다 -> 입어 / 입어요 / 입습니다

먹다 -> 먹어 / 먹어요 / 먹습니다

Hey, we’re not done yet! This is just a beginning. We have 6 more of these to learn… 😉

CONTINUED Complete Beginner Lesson – GRAMMAR : KOREAN VERBS AND CONJUGATION RULES – PRESENT CONTINUOUS -고 있어 / – 고 있어요 / – 고 있습니다 PAST -았어 / 었어 / – 았어요 / – 았습니다 / 었습니다

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