Grammar Korean For Everyone Korean Lessons

Korean Predicates – Verb/Adjective Predicates Grammar Lesson

KOREAN predicateS

Previously, we learned Beginner Korean : Sentence Structure, Subject /Topic/Object Marker 은/는/이/가/을/를

As promised, let’s deal with this villain named PREDICATE! Don’t be intimidated by the big word “predicate”. We can defeat it and put it under our control. Let’s go!

In English, only verbs can be predicates, but in Korean, verb and THIS are both categorized as “predicate”. Want to guess what it is?

That’s right! Adjective predicate!

Can you tell how they differ, then?

Well, they are pretty easy!

Verb predicates describe –



process (e.g., run, buy, study)

and adjective predicates describe –

person / thing

shape /characteristics (tall, round)

quantity / quality (a lot, defective)

condition (new, old)

emotion (happy, sad)

Without them, we can’t clearly understand what the subject does (verb) or what it looks like (adjective), and that’s why adjectives are also called descriptive verbs in Korean!

In English, it’s very easy to tell a verb from an adjective just by looking at their structure, because an adjective always requires one of the verbs “am”, “is”, and “are”.

am / is / are

In Korean, however, the base (unconjugated) form of verbs and adjectives have a similar appearance, as they end in 다.

For example,

보다 (to see)

예쁘다 (pretty)

both end in 다, and it’s difficult to tell which is a verb and which is an adjective. You’d have to look at the meaning to know what each is (again, reason it’s also called “descriptive verb”).

Korean verbs and adjectives are composed of two parts – a stem and an ending.

In its base form, a verb or an adjective ends with 다, which is also the form you would use to look up in a dictionary.

What comes before 다 is the stem of a verb. It’s called a stem because it doesn’t change.

These are conjugated verb forms, which replace the place of 다. These are like the leaves on a stem, because they vary.

Similarly, an adjective “pretty” is 예쁘다 and “far” is 멀다.

Here, the stems for each are 예쁘 and 멀.

Also, ending is conjugated differently depending on the situation (casual, formal, deferential, and etc.) We’ll cover this later.

Key point : Both Korean verbs and adjectives can be conjugated.


Let’s learn to identify the stem portion of the following predicates!

놀다 (to play)

귀엽다 (is cute)

뛰다 (to run)

읽다 (to read)

무섭다 (is scary)

보다 (to see)

입다 (to wear)

느리다 (is slow)

빠르다 (is fast)

구르다 (to roll)


놀 / 귀엽 / 뛰 / 읽 / 무섭 / 보 / 입 / 느리 / 빠르 / 구르

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