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.
- 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|| |
|Small (size)|| |
|Small (quantity)|| |
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.)
- 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
- 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.
- 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)]
- 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.
- 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
- 좁다 → 좁은 = narrow, small, cramped (space) (NOT
- 좁은 운동장 = a small/cramped playground
5. For adjectives whose last character does not have a final consonant, just attach ㄴ to it.
- 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
- 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)
- 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.)