Adjectives - Descriptive Form

In the previous posts, Adjectives - Present, Past and Adjectives - Polite [Present, Past], we learned that adjectives in Korean function like verbs in that they can be conjugated into present and past tenses, and various other forms.

However, when describing nouns using adjectives placed in front of them, for example, 'a beautiful bird', the adjectives must be conjugated to the descriptive form.

E.g.

  • 아름답다 → 아름다운 [A plain form → A descriptive form]
  • 아름다운 새 = a beautiful bird


The Table of Common Adjectives and Their Descriptive Forms

Written Form Plain Positive
Descriptive
High
높다
높은
Low
낮다
낮은
Big
크다
Small (size)
작다
작은
Spacious
넓다
넓은
Cramped
좁다
좁은
Many
많다
많은
Small (quantity)
적다
적은
Kind
착하다
착한
Fast
빠르다
빠른
Slow
느리다
느린
Handsome
멋있다
멋있는
Ugly
못생기다
못생긴
Easy
쉽다
쉬운
Difficult
어렵다
어려운
Interesting
재미있다
재미있는
Boring
지루하다
지루한
Hot
뜨겁다
뜨거운
Cold
차갑다
차가운
Warm
따뜻하다
따뜻한
Cool
시원하다
시원한
Wonderful
굉장하다
굉장한
Beautiful
아름답다
아름다운
Pretty
예쁘다
예쁜
Humble
겸손하다
겸손한
Loving
사랑스럽다
사랑스러운
Red빨갛다빨간
Yellow노랗다노란


Conjugations rules

First of all, take 다 off adjectives and then:

1. Attach 은 to any adjectives of one character with a final consonant.
(Note: The next rules override this rule.)

E.g.

  • 많다 → 많은 = many
  • 많은 사람들 → many people
  • 작다 → 작은 = small
  • 작은 난쟁이 → a small dwarf
    • 얇다 → 얇은 = thin
    • 얇은 팔 → a thin arm
    • 높다 → 높은 = high
    • 높은 하늘 → a high sky

      2. Attach 는 to any adjectives whose final character is 있 and 없.

      E.g.

      • 맛있다 → 맛있는 = delicious
      • 맛있는 음식 → delicious food
      • 멋있다 → 멋있는 = handsome/good-looking
      • 멋있는 차 → a good-looking car
      • 재미있다 → 재미있는 = interesting/fun
      • 재미있는 영화 → a fun movie
      • 재미없다 → 재미없는 = not interesting (boring)
      • 재미없는 드라마 = a boring drama (soap opera)

      Note: The meaning of 있다 is 'to exist', and its opposite is 없다 which means 'to not exist'. Therefore, the adjectives which have a stem of 있다 can also be used with 없다.

      E.g.
      • 맛있다 → 맛없다 [tasty/delicious → not tasty/delicious]
      • 멋있다 → 멋없다 [handsome/good-looking → not handsome/good-looking (ugly)]
      • 재미있다 → 재미없다 [interesting/fun → not interesting/fun (boring)]

        3. For adjectives whose final character has a final consonant of either ㄹ or ㅎ, replace them with ㄴ.

        E.g.
        • 길다 → 긴 = long
        • 긴 연필 → a long pencil
        • 달다 → 단 = sweet (taste)
        • 단 초콜렛 → sweet chocolate
          • 빨갛다 → 빨간 = red
          • 빨간 사과 → a red apple
          • 노랗다 → 노란 = yellow
          • 노란 우산 = a yellow umbrella

          4. For adjectives who final character has a final consonant, ㅂ, take it off and attach 운 to them.

          E.g.

          • 쉽다 → 쉬운 = easy
          • 쉬운 문제 → an easy problem/question
          • 아름답다 → 아름다운 = beautiful
          • 아름다운 꽃 → a beautiful flower
          • 차갑다 → 차가운 = cold (tangible)
          • 차가운 바닥 = a cold floor
          • 뜨겁다 → 뜨거운 = hot (tangible)
          • 뜨거운 커피 = hot coffee


          *Exception: 
          • 좁다 → 좁은 = narrow, small, cramped (space) (NOT 조은)
          • 좁은 운동장 = a small/cramped playground

          5. For adjectives whose last character does not have a final consonant, just attach ㄴ to it.

          E.g.

          • 멋지다 → 멋진 = nice/cool
          • 멋진 모자→ a nice/cool hat
          • 예쁘다 → 예쁜 = pretty
          • 예쁜 구두 → pretty shoes
          • 빠르다 → 빠른 = fast
          • 빠른 자동차 → a fast car
          • 느리다 → 느린 = slow
          • 느린 속력 → a slow speed

          Irregular
          • 좋다 → 좋은 = good
          • 좋은 사람 → a good man

          Please note, however, that the descriptive form is usually used in writings, as in written Korean.

          In spoken Korean, it is more natural to say 'beautiful flowers' as '꽃이 아름다워요' rather than '아름다운 꽃이에요.' (For more on the 'spoken form,' please read Adjectives - Present, Past)

          E.g.
          • 꽃들이 아름다워요 = The flowers are beautiful.
          • 자동차가 멋져요 = The car is good-looking.
          • 문제가 쉬워요 = The question is easy.

          Also, in spoken Korean, the particles are often omitted except for the 을/를 particle.

          • 꽃들 아름다워요 = The flowers are beautiful.
          • 자동차 멋져요 = The car is good-looking.
          • 문제 쉬워요 = The question is easy.

          Again, in casual conversations, these sentences would more naturally flow by using '네.'

          • 꽃들 아름답네요
          • 자동차 멋지네요
          • 문제 쉽네요

          The difference between '문제 쉬워요' and '문제 쉽네요' is that  '쉽네요' is less blunt than '쉬워요' which sounds more factual and generalised.

          • 문제 쉽네요 = (I see that) The problem/question is easy.
          • 문제 쉬워요 = The problem/question is easy.
            • 방이 넓네요 = (I see that) The room is spacious/large.
            • 방이 넓어요 = The room is spacious/large. (It can sound quite blunt and just factual.)

              10 comments:

              1. This blog entry is referenced from my description of the same thing which you can read by clicking this link. Keep up the good work, Luke~~

                That's because you have to give first in order to get love back from anybody to answer your question.

                ReplyDelete
              2. typo

                "2. Add 는 to any adjective ending with .

                Eg.

                맛있다 → 맛있는
                맛있는 음식 → delicious food "

                "ending with ㅆ." I think it should say.

                ReplyDelete
              3. Would the first rule apply to past tense adjectives?

                For example, would "a bird that was beautiful" be:

                아름다웠은 새

                ReplyDelete
                Replies
                1. It would be 아름다웠던 새. :-)

                  Delete
              4. I love your blog! I can learn Korean by myself with help of your amazing blog ^^ And your English explanation is so clear so I can learn English at the same time~ :) THANK YOU SO MUCH.

                By the way may I know what is the difference between 하던 and 하는? Does the ㅕ in '보여주세요' and '알려주세요' have the same meaning? Could you explain it? And I hope you'd do explanation on -거든요, too =) Sorry for asking many questions at once ><

                ReplyDelete
                Replies
                1. Hi rojakhui95,

                  Please refer to I used to do - 하던, Verbs - Descriptive Form I and Because I'm - ~거든요 for more explanations.

                  ~ㅕ주세요 means "please do something for me"

                  보여주세요 = Please show it to me
                  알려주세요 = Please let me know

                  보이다 = to be seen
                  보여주다 = to show

                  알리다 = to inform
                  알려주다 = to make known

                  Hope this helps with your questions!
                  Cheers

                  Delete
              5. Thank you! I've been studying for months and looked through tons of books, and none of them ever explained this.

                ReplyDelete
              6. I think i need to read more and more to understand

                ReplyDelete
              7. Your blog is very helpful.thank you so much, you never know how much you help me with this. God Bless.

                ReplyDelete

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