Adjectives - Present, Past

 형용사 [Adjectives]

We're going to look at adjectives in this post. First of all, please have a look at the two tables below, which are similar to the way the 'nouns' were presented in the previous post, Nouns - Present, Past.

As I've mentioned before in Nouns - Present, Past, there are two primary forms in which Korean is used, the written and spoken forms.

  • The written form is used in literature such as books, newspapers and any form of writing that is not 'conversational.' The written form, in essence, is literary, factual and declarative. It is rarely used in normal everyday conversations. However, the news on TV uses this written form of Korean. It is also used in public speeches. The reason is probably due to the fact that the news and public announcements or speeches are usually all declarative and/or factual.


  • The spoken form is the usual way in which people speak and have a conversation. It is used in all types of spoken Korean such as normal conversations, dramas, and movies, with the possible exceptions of news, documentaries and other factual, formal types of programs on TV and radio.


Please also note that there are two ways of expressing negatives, for example, 좋다 means 'good' and 많다 means 'many', and they can be expressed in the negative form in the following two ways:

1. Take 다 off the present tense of an adjective, and attach 지 않다 (or 지 않아 for the spoken form).

The Written Form
  • 좋지 않다 = not good
  • 많지 않다 = not many

The Spoken Form
    • 좋지 않아 = not good
    • 많지 않아 = not many 

    2. Attach 안 to the present tense of an adjective.

    The Written Form
    • 안좋다 = not good 
    • 안많다 = not many

    The Spoken Form
      • 안좋아 = not good 
      • 안많아 = not many 

      Below are the two tables showing the informal written and spoken forms of the adjective, 빠르다. (Please read Adjectives - Polite for polite forms)

      Please note that the words in bold indicate which of the two negatives are more common in each form, i.e. 빠르지 않다 is more commonly used than 안 빠르다 in the written form whereas 안 빨라 is more commonly used than 빠르지 않아 in the spoken form.

      Informal Written Form
      Present
      Past
      Positive 빠르다 빨랐다
      Negative 빠르지 않다
      안 빠르다
      빠르지 않았다
      안 빨랐다

      Informal Spoken Form
      Present
      Past
      Positive
      빨라
      빨랐어
      Negative
      빠르지 않아
      안 빨라
      빠르지 않았어
      안 빨랐어


      Here are the meanings of the different forms of an adjective, 빠르다.

      • 빠르다 = fast
      • 빠르지 않다/안 빠르다 = not fast
      • 빨랐다 = was/were fast
      • 빠르지 않았다/안 빨랐다 = was/were not fast
      • 빨라 = fast
      • 빠르지 않아/안 빨라 = not fast
      • 빨랐어 = was/were fast
      • 빠르지 않았어/안 빨랐어 = was/were not fast


      The List of Common Adjectives

      Present Past
      Positive
      Written
      Spoken
      Written
      Spoken
      High
      높다
      높아
      높았다
      높았어
      Low
      낮다
      낮아
      낮았다
      낮았어
      Big
      크다
      컸다
      컸어
      Small (size)
      작다
      작아
      작았다
      작았어
      Spacious
      넓다
      넓어
      넓었다
      넓었어
      Cramped
      좁다
      좁아
      좁았다
      좁았어
      Many
      많다
      많아
      많았다
      많았어
      Small (quantity)
      적다
      적어
      적었다
      적었어
      Kind
      착하다
      착해
      착했다
      착했어
      Fast
      빠르다
      빨라
      빨랐다
      빨랐어
      Slow
      느리다
      느려
      느렸다
      느렸어
      Easy
      쉽다
      쉬워
      쉬웠다
      쉬웠어
      Difficult
      어렵다
      어려워
      어려웠다
      어려웠어
      Interesting
      재미있다
      재미있어
      재미있었다
      재미있었어
      New
      새롭다
      새로워
      새로웠다
      새로웠어
      Hot (tangible)
      뜨겁다
      뜨거워
      뜨거웠다
      뜨거웠어
      Cold (tangible)
      차갑다
      차가워
      차가웠다
      차가웠어
      Warm
      따뜻하다
      따뜻해
      따뜻했다
      따뜻했어
      Cool
      시원하다
      시원해
      시원했다
      시원했어
      Wonderful
      굉장하다
      굉장해
      굉장했다
      굉장했어
      Beautiful
      아름답다
      아름다워
      아름다웠다
      아름다웠어
      Honest
      솔직하다
      솔직해
      솔직했다
      솔직했어
      Lovely
      사랑스럽다
      사랑스러워
      사랑스러웠다
      사랑스러웠어
      Humble
      겸손하다
      겸손해
      겸손했다
      겸손했어


      The following are the rules for the conjugation of adjectives:

      I) Present (Written) Past (Written)

      1. For adjectives whose last character contain a final consonant, add 았 or 었.
      • 았 for the vowels, ㅏ and ㅗ
      • 었 for the vowels, ㅓ, ㅜ, ㅡ and ㅣ

      E.g.
      • 얇다 → 얇았다 = was thin
      • 높다 → 높았다 = was high
      • 적다 → 적었다 = was small (quantity)
      • 굵다 → 굵었다 = was thick  
      • 가늘다 → 가늘었다 = was thin
      • 재미있다 → 재미있었다 = was interesting/fun  

      Note: The rules 2 to 6 override the rule 1.


      2. For adjectives whose last character is 하, it changes to 했.

      E.g.
      • 착하다 → 착했다 = was kind
      • 따뜻하다 → 따뜻했다 = was warm
      • 시원하다 → 시원했다 = was cool
      • 신기하다 → 신기했다 = was amazing
      • 굉장하다 →  굉장했다 = was wonderful


      3. For adjectives whose last character contain ㅂ as a final consonant, take it off and add 웠다. (Except for 좁다 which changes to 좁았다)

      E.g. 
      • 아름답다 → 아름다웠다 = was beautiful
      • 뜨겁다 → 뜨거웠다 = was hot (tangible)
      • 차갑다 → 차가웠다 = was cold (tangible)
      • 춥다 → 추웠다 = was cold (feeling)


      4. For adjectives whose last character contain no final consonant and the vowel, ㅡ, take it off and add ㅓ,ㅆ.

      E.g.
        • 크다 → 컸다 = was big
        • 예쁘다 → 예뻤다 = was pretty 

        However, when the vowel before the last character is ㅏ, then ㅏ, ㅆ can be used instead.
        • 아프다 → 아팠다/아펐다 = was sick (illness)
        • 나쁘다 → 나빴다/나뻤다 = was bad 
          
        Also, in the case of 르 as the last character, ㄹ, 랐 is used.
          • 빠르다 → 빨랐다 = was fast


            5. For adjectives whose last character contain the vowel, ㅣ, take it off and add ㅕ, ㅆ.

            E.g. 
            • 느리다 → 느렸다 = was slow
            • 잘생기다 → 잘생겼다 = was handsome/good-looking
            • 못생기다 → 못생겼다 = was ugly


            6. For adjectives whose last character contains ㅏ as a vowel and ㅎ as a final consonant, they change to ㅐ and ㅆ, i.e. 앟 changes to 앴.

            E.g.
            • 빨갛다 → 빨갰다 = was red
            • 노랗다 → 노랬다 = was yellow
            • 파랗다 → 파랬다 = was blue


              II) Present (Written) Present (Spoken)

              First of all, take 다 off adjectives and then:

              1. For adjectives whose last character contain a final consonant, add 아 or 어.
              • 아 for the vowels, ㅏ and ㅗ
              • 어 for the vowels, ㅓ, ㅜ, ㅡ and ㅣ

              E.g.
              • 작다 → 작아 = small (size)
              • 높다 → 높아 = high
              • 적다 → 적어 = small (quantity)
              • 굵다 → 굵어 = thick 
              • 가늘다 → 가늘어 = thin
              • 재미있다 → 재미있어 = interesting/fun


              2. For adjectives whose last character is 하, it changes to 해.

              E.g.
              • 지루하다 → 지루해 = boring
              • 시원하다 → 시원해 = cool
              • 겸손하다 → 겸손해 = humble
              • 신기하다 → 신기해 = amazing


              3. For adjectives whose last character contain ㅂ as a final consonant, take it off and add 워. (Except for 좁다 which changes to 좁았다)

              E.g.
              • 춥다 → 추워 = cold (feeling)
              • 어렵다 → 어려워 = difficult
              • 뜨겁다 → 뜨거워 = hot (tangible)
              • 사랑스럽다 → 사랑스러워 = lovely


              4. For adjectives whose last character contain ㅡ as a vowel and no final consonant, change ㅡ to ㅓ. (Exceptions, 빠르다 which changes to 빨라, and 배고프다 to 배고파)

              E.g.
              • 크다 → 커 = big/large 
              • 예쁘다 → 예뻐 = pretty
              However, when the vowel before the last character is ㅏ, then ㅡ can be changed to ㅏ instead.
              • 아프다 → 아파/아퍼 = sick (illness) 
              • 나쁘다 → 나빠/나뻐 = bad 


              5. For adjectives whose last character contain ㅣ as a vowel and no final consonant, change ㅣ to ㅕ.

              E.g. 
              • 느리다 → 느려 = slow
              • 잘생기다 → 잘생겨 = handsome/good-looking
              • 못생기다 → 못생겨 = ugly 


              6. For adjectives whose last character contains ㅏ as a vowel and ㅎ as a final consonant, ㅏ is changed to ㅐ, and ㅎ is taken off. (i.e. 앟다 is changed to 애)

              E.g.
              • 빨갛다 → 빨개 = red
              • 노랗다 → 노래 = yellow
              • 파랗다 → 파래 = blue


              III) Past (Written) Past (Spoken)

              Simply change 다 to 어. 

              • 컸다 → 컸어 = was big/large
              • 높았다 → 높았어 = was high
              • 느렸다 → 느렸어 = was slow
              • 빨갰다 → 빨갰어 = was red
              • 따뜻했다 → 따뜻했어 = was warm (both tangibility and feeling)
              • 뜨거웠다 → 뜨거웠어 = was hot (tangible)

                    18 comments:

                    1. so is 아프지는 않나요 right for "aren't you sick?". Why's there "는"in there?
                      감사합니다 :)

                      ReplyDelete
                    2. 아프지는 않나요 is a formal expression. It is colloquial, too. Rather than 아프지 않나요?, 아프지는 않나요? is frequently used. It's simplified to 아프진 않나요?

                      ReplyDelete
                    3. wow this is really helpful thanks a lot! =)

                      ReplyDelete
                    4. so 배고프다 conjugates to 배고파
                      like 나쁘다 and 아프다 because they all have 으? well 배고프다 is a verb and the others are adjectives but anyways.

                      or like ㅗ (in 배고프다) is like the ㅏ in (나쁘다/apuda)

                      ReplyDelete
                    5. Hi, in the spoken form, can we add 이에요, 예요 and 요 ? thank you

                      ReplyDelete
                    6. 배고프다 changes to 배고파 and it means 'hungry'.

                      ReplyDelete
                    7. To SoYoon,

                      Yes, add 요.

                      Please refer to Adjectives - Polite [Present, Past]

                      ReplyDelete
                    8. Hi, I don't know how to read 넓다.
                      널다 or 넙다???

                      ReplyDelete
                      Replies
                      1. Hi Unknown,

                        넓다 is pronounced 널따! (not 넙따)

                        Delete
                    9. 넓다 is pronounced 넙따.

                      However, 넓어 is pronounced 널버.

                      :-)

                      ReplyDelete
                    10. Is it right to say 좋은 아니에요 or 전 좋지 않다 which means I'm not good. ?

                      ReplyDelete
                    11. @ http://www.blogger.com/profile/16719236775453733873 넓다 is pronounced as nopda (silent L) . Simple English Grammar.

                      ReplyDelete
                    12. Hi XXX143ification,

                      If you want to say, "I'm not good",

                      it would be 전 좋지 않아요 or 전 안좋아요.

                      Or if you mean, "I'm not good at(something)", it would be:

                      전 (그것)을 잘 못해요.

                      ReplyDelete
                    13. Hi Luke,

                      On the topic korean alphabet you explained in a comment to someone the pronuncation of final double consonants, and you wrote:
                      '넓다 [널따] = spacious'
                      and in your comment on this topic you say '넓다 is pronounced 넙따.'
                      so im a litlle confused right now.
                      please help me..

                      thanks for all your effort! :)

                      ReplyDelete
                      Replies
                      1. Hi Cailin,

                        넓다 is pronounced 널따.

                        넙따 is a common mispronunciation of the word 넓다.

                        Thanks for pointing that out!

                        Delete
                    14. Hi Luke!
                      I was wondering how 오래되다 (i.e. the adjective for old) would be conjugated to the past tense and spoken form. None of the adjective conjugation rules seem to apply to it. Thank you!

                      ReplyDelete
                      Replies
                      1. Hi Anonymous!

                        The past tense of 오래되다 is 오래되었다, and it can be contracted to 오래됐다 as well.

                        The past spoken form of 오래되다 is 오래되었어 or 오래됐어 which means "old."

                        Delete

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