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|| |
|Negative||빠르지 않다 |
|빠르지 않았다 |
|Informal Spoken Form|| |
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
|Small (size)|| |
|Small (quantity)|| |
|Hot (tangible)|| |
|Cold (tangible)|| |
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
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 크다 → 커 = big/large
- 예쁘다 → 예뻐 = pretty
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)