Korean Verbs

Korean Verbs

Korean verbs are divided into two categories: Action (AV) and Descriptive (DV). In some books, AV will simply be refered to as “verbs” while DV is called adjectives. Both are correct and it’s important to know why.

Both AV and DV in Korean behave the same way. And by behave, I mean conjugate. So an adjective like “to be pretty” (예쁘다) will conjugate to “was pretty” (예뻤다)the same way “to go” (가다) conjugates to “went” (갔다).

AV Examples
가다 (ga-da) – to go

오다 (o-da) –  to come

던지다 (deon-ji-da) – to throw

되다 (doe-da) – to become


DV Examples
아름답다 (a-reum-dab-da) – to be beautiful

좋다 (jo-ta) –  to be good

깨끗하다 (ggae-ggeut-ha-da) to be clean

이다(ee-da) -to be

There are also words like 있다 (itt-da) -“to exist” and 없다 (eop-da) – “to not exist” which are kind of in the middle, as they seem like a DV but act like an AV.

Maybe you noticed how the words ends with -다 (da)? That’s because all verbs ends with 다 when they are unconjugated. This is also known as the dictionary form, as this is how they will appear in the dictionary. Oh, and speaking of dictionaries, the Naver Dictionary is a must use if you are learning Korean!

If you remove the 다 and you get the stem. This is an important word that you’ll encounter very often, along with abbreviations such as AVST (Action Verb Stem) and DVST (Descriptive Verb Stem). VST (Verb Stem) usually references both AVST and DVST, but it’s important to know that not all books go by this rule. Note that a stem will never appear alone and will always have a suffix (something that comes after) attached to it.

Thousands of conjugated forms

Depending on how you count, the number of ways a verb can be conjugated in Korean can add up to thousands. This is why Korean grammar is a time consuming monster. But it makes the language all the more prestigious to know, doesn’t it? If you like a challenge, Korean is the language for you.

On top of being plentiful, they also tend to be very long. This is because the suffixes that attach to a stem when conjugated can attach to each other.

A very useful site if you’re unsure how a specific word is conjugated is dongsa.netThere you can find the most common conjugations you’ll use and it’s especially useful with irregular verbs (yes, those exist too).

All sentences end with a verb

Unless you know Japanese, chances are good that the Korean sentence structure will confuse you. Sentences always end with a verb. That is why you have to wait until the end of a sentence to actually know what is being said. Or written. Because it’s usually when you read that you get too impatient and conclude that you don’t understand. So just remember – always read until the period.

Or as a Korean would say, in a true SOV fashion, always period until read.

 Just scratching the surface

Korean verbs have a lot of sub-topics and explaining them more in-depth in separate articles feels far more appropriate than to covering everything in one giant blob of text. Because it would be enormous. Consider therefore this merely an introduction to the wonderful world of the Korean language. After some frustration, you’ll eventually grow to like them. Maybe even love them.

Did you know?
Japanese and Korean are very similar to each other. If you already know a little Japanese, Korean verbs will come very easy to you since they serve the exact same role, and behave almost the exact same way, in both languages.

By Kimchi Cloud

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