Verbs - Present, Past

동사 [Verbs]

Now, we come to learn, possibly, the most important subject of all Korean grammar, the 'verbs.'

I have drawn up tables below to display various conjugations of verbs. But first of all, we need to pay attention to a distinct feature in Korean verbs, namely, the plain form.

The plain form is the most basic form of verbs, from which all the other conjugations of verbs are derived and produced.

However, the plain form is almost never used in both written and spoken Korean. The only instance where the plain form is used is when verbs are listed in the dictionary. Therefore, it is necessary to know the plain form if you'd like to know the meaning of certain verbs and find them in the dictionary.

Examples of the plain form of verbs

  • 하다 = do
  • 먹다 = eat
  • 가다 = go 
  • 달리다 = run


Informal Written Form
Plain
Present
Past
Positive
먹다
먹는다
먹었다
Negative
먹지 않다
먹지 않는다
안 먹는다
먹지 않았다
안  먹었다


Informal Spoken Form
Plain
Present
Past
Positive
먹다
먹어
먹었어
Negative
먹지 않다
먹지 않아
안 먹어
먹지 않았어
안 먹었어


Note: The words in bold indicate which of the two negatives are more commonly used in each case, i.e. 먹지 않았다 is more commonly used than 안 먹었다 in the written form, and 안 먹었어 is more commonly used than 먹지 않았어 in the spoken form.


A Table of Commonly Used Verbs
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Written
Spoken

Plain Present Past Present Past
Go
가다
간다
갔다
갔어
Come
오다
온다
왔다
왔어
Run
달리다
달린다
달렸다
달려
달렸어
Eat
먹다
먹는다
먹었다
먹어
먹었어
Stand
서다
선다
섰다
섰어
Sit
앉다
앉는다
앉았다
앉아
앉았어
Buy
사다
산다
샀다
샀어
Sell
팔다
판다
팔았다
팔아
팔았어
Grow
자라다
자란다
자랐다
자라
자랐어
Throw
던지다
던진다
던졌다
던져
던졌어
Borrow
빌리다
빌린다
빌렸다
빌려
빌렸어
Lend
빌려주다
빌려준다
빌려주었다
빌려줘
빌려주었어
Play
놀다
논다
놀았다
놀아
놀았어
Write
쓰다
쓴다
썼다
썼어
Read
읽다
읽는다
읽었다
읽어
읽었어
Listen
듣다
듣는다
들었다
들어
들었어
Live
살다
산다
살았다
살아
살았어
Die
죽다
죽는다
죽었다
죽어
죽었어



Conjugations Rules

I) Plain Present (Written)

1. For verbs whose last character has a final consonant, replace 다 with 는다

E.g.
  • 먹다 → 먹는다 = eat
  • 사과를 먹는다 = eat an apple
  • 걷다 → 걷는다 = walk
  • 사람은 걷는다 = A human walks
  • 믿다 → 믿는다 = believe
  • 나는 예수님을 믿는다 = I believe Jesus


    2. For verbs whose last character has no final consonant, replace 다 with ㄴ 다.

    E.g.
    • 잠자다 → 잠잔다 = sleep
    • 지금 새들은 잠잔다 = Now birds sleep (= At the moment, the birds are sleeping)
      • 가다 → 간다 = go
      • 민아는 학교를 간다 = Mina goes to school
      • 보다 → 본다 = watch/look/see
      • 현주는 자주 밖을 본다 = Hyun-ju often looks outside


        3. For verbs whose last character has ㄹ as a final consonant, replace it with ㄴ. 

        E.g.
        • 팔다 → 판다 = sell
        • 이 가게는 과일을 판다 = This shop sells fruit
        • 살다 → 산다 = live
        • 지우는 여기에서 산다 = Ji-u lives here  
        • 밀다 → 민다 = push
        • 자동차를 민다 = push a car


        II) Plain Past (Written)

        First of all, take 다 off a verb, and then:

        1. For verbs whose last character has no final consonant, attach ㅆ as a final consonant. (exception: For the vowel, ㅜ, attach 었다.)

        E.g.
        • 가다: 가 + ㅆ 다 = 갔다 = went
        • 사다: 사 + ㅆ 다 = 샀다 = bought
        • 서다: 서 + ㅆ 다 = 섰다 = stood
        • 자다: 자 + ㅆ 다 = 잤다 = slept
        • 자라다: 자라 + ㅆ 다 = 자랐다 = grew

          Exception: 
          • 두다: 두 + 었다 = 두었다 = put
          • 주다: 주 + 었다 = 주었다 = give
          • 하다 → 했다 = did  (NOT 핬다)

          Note: The following rules override the rule 1. 


          2. For verbs whose last character has a final consonant, add 었 or 았. 

          • For vowels, ㅏ and ㅗ, add 았. 
          • For vowels, ㅓ, ㅜ, ㅡ and ㅣ, add 었.

          E.g.
          • 날다: 날 + 았다 = 날았다 = flew
          • 살다: 살 + 았다 = 살았다 = lived
          • 놀다: 놀 + 았다 = 놀았다 = played (had fun)
          • 먹다: 먹 + 었다 = 먹었다 = ate
          • 죽다: 죽 + 었다 = 죽었다 = died
          • 들다: 들 + 었다 = 들었다 = lifted up
          • 밀다: 밀 + 었다 = 밀었다 = pushed


          3. For verbs whose last character has ㅣ as a vowel, and no final consonant, change ㅣ to ㅕ and attach ㅆ as the final consonant.
           
          E.g. 

          • 달리다: 달리 → 달렸 → 달렸다 = ran
          • 빌리다: 빌리 → 빌렸 → 빌렸다 = borrowed
          • 이기다: 이기 → 이겼 → 이겼다 = won
          • 던지다: 던지 던졌 던졌다 = threw
          • 다니다: 다니 → 다녔 → 다녔다 = attended


          4. For verbs whose last character has ㅗ as a vowel and no consonant, change ㅗ to ㅘ and attach ㅆ as the final consonant.

          E.g.
          • 오다 → 왔다 = came
          • 보다 → 봤다 = saw/looked/watched


          5. For verbs whose last character has ㅡ as a vowel, replace it with ㅓ and then attach ㅆ as the final consonant.

          E.g.
          • 크다: 크 → 컸 → 컸다 = grew
          • 쓰다: 쓰 → 썼 → 썼다 = wrote
          • 트다: 트 → 텄 → 텄다 = sprouted 


          Irregular form

          E.g.
          • 하다 → 했다
          • 듣다 → 들었다


          III) Plain → Present (Spoken)

          1. For verbs whose last character has a vowel, ㅏ or ㅓ and no final consonant, just drop 다 off.

          E.g.
          • 가다 → 가 = go
          • 서다 → 서 = stand
          • 사다 → 사 = buy
          • 자라다 → 자라 = grow

          Exception: 하 changes to 해.

          E.g.
          • 하다 → 해 = do
          • 원하다 → 원해 = want
          • 구하다 → 구해 = save (a life)


          2. For verbs whose last character has a vowel, ㅗ or ㅜ and no final consonant: 
          • ㅗ changes to ㅘ
          • ㅜ changes to ㅝ

          E.g.
          • 오다 → 와 = come
          • 보다 → 봐 = see/watch/look
          • 두다 → 둬 = place (something) on, leave (something as it is)
          • 주다 → 줘 = give
          • 빌려주다 → 빌려줘 = lend


            3. For verbs whose last character is 르, drop it off and then attach a final consonant, ㄹ, to the character preceding 르, and then attach 라 or 러 to them.

            • 라 for verbs whose character preceding 르 has a vowel, ㅏ or ㅗ. 
            • 러 for verbs whose character preceding 르 has a vowel, ㅓ, ㅜ or ㅣ.

            E.g.
            • 가르다 → 갈라 = divide
            • 자르다 → 잘라 = cut
            • 오르다 → 올라 = climb
            • 거르다 → 걸러 = filter, sift
            • 서두르다 → 서둘러 = hurry
            • 구르다 →  굴러 = roll
            • 가로지르다 → 가로질러 = go cross

            (Also, for verbs which have a last consonant of ㅡ, replace it with ㅓ.)
            • 쓰다 → 써 = write
            • 끄다 → 꺼 = extinguish (a fire)
            • 뜨다 → 떠 = float


            4. For verbs whose last character has ㅣ as a vowel and no final consonant, change ㅣ to ㅕ.

            E.g.
            • 지다 → 져 = lose
            • 이기다 → 이겨 = win
            • 던지다 → 던져 = throw


            5. For verbs whose last character has a final consonant, attach: 

            • 아 for characters whose vowel isㅏ or ㅗ 
            • 어 for characters whose vowel is ㅓ, ㅜ, ㅡ or ㅣ.

            E.g.
            • 살다 → 살아 = live
            • 팔다 → 팔아 = sell
            • 앉다 → 앉아 = sit
            • 놀다 → 놀아 = play (have fun)
            • 먹다→ 먹어 = eat
            • 물다 → 물어 = bite
            • 늙다 → 늙어 = age 
            • 읽다 → 읽어 = read

              Irregular form
              • 듣다 → 들어 = listen/hear


              IV) Past (Written) Past (Spoken)

              Simply change 다 to 어. 

              • 갔다 → 갔어 = went
              • 왔다 → 왔어 = came
              • 달렸다 → 달렸어 = ran
              • 먹었다 → 먹었어 = ate
              • 마셨다 → 마셨어 = drank 


                42 comments:

                1. "To change the verb into different tenses, take 다 off and add the stem."

                  You mean... "Add the sufix"? As I see in the table of contents it looks more logical.

                  ReplyDelete
                2. Yes, you're quite right.

                  Stem = Suffix

                  ReplyDelete
                3. What should you add after removing 다 from ㅣ / ㅡ verbs, in order to make the Present Tense (Spoken)?

                  Eg.

                  빗다 (comb) → ?
                  잃다 (lose) → ?
                  끊다 (cut) → ?

                  ReplyDelete
                4. According to the rule no. 5.

                  빗다 (comb) → 빗어
                  잃다 (lose) → 잃어
                  끊다 (cut) → 끊어

                  5. For a verb with a final consonant, first take 다 off then add 아 for ㅏ/ㅗ verbs, and 어 for ㅓ/ㅜ verbs.

                  Eg.

                  * 앉다 → 앉아
                  * 먹다 → 먹어

                  ReplyDelete
                5. Thanks for this post! I was looking for an explanation of Korean verbs and ran across your site. I just moved to Korea and am doing my best to learn the language - I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot of hours here. :)

                  ReplyDelete
                6. Great introductory article! Check out http://dongsa.net to find out how to conjugate any Korean verb.

                  ReplyDelete
                7. Hi Luke, I have a question. I have seen some awkward verbs when I listen to Korean music, or have conversations with my friends. They use, for example, the verb 바라다 *to hope for* and change it into 바래 instead of 바래요. Why is this so?

                  ReplyDelete
                8. Hi Shintaro,

                  I see that 바라다 becomes 바래 and 바래요 instead of 바라 and 바라요.

                  I gotta say it's an irregular verb. It's like 하다 which becomes 해 and 해요.

                  One more example would be 말하다. 말하다 means "to speak" and it becomes 말해 and 말해요.

                  I hope this helps. :)

                  ReplyDelete
                9. What is the korean of watching? like watching live videos?
                  thanks!

                  ReplyDelete
                10. If you're talking about a noun, then it's 보기.

                  라이브 비디오 보기 = watching live videos.

                  or, for a verb form of -ing.

                  I'm watching live videos.
                  = 라이브 비디오 보고 있어

                  ReplyDelete
                11. Do you conjugate verbs in korean like you do in spanish? Example to put: poner, i put pongo. is there something like this in korean?

                  ReplyDelete
                12. Sorry, I can't answer that question.
                  I don't know how Spanish grammar works.

                  Or you'd need to explain to me what poner and pongo mean in English.

                  Then I'd probably have a better idea about it to answer your question.

                  ReplyDelete
                13. what's the difference of 들었다 = life up and listen? its kind of confusing me because the are the same?

                  ReplyDelete
                14. Yes, they're the same.

                  So, the meaning depends on the context.

                  For example,

                  노래를 들었다 means "I listened to music."

                  whereas, 가방을 들었다 means "I picked up (lifted up) my bag."

                  Obviously, you wouldn't lift up your music or listen to your bag. ;)

                  Yes, so it depends on the context in which it is used.

                  ReplyDelete
                15. How do you conjugate verbs ending in ㅡ with no 받침?? Example: 쓰다, 아프다... is there a rule?

                  ReplyDelete
                16. Hi Mr. Spock,

                  As an answer to your question, I just added the following to the rules above.

                  (Also, for verbs which have a last consonant of ㅡ, replace it with ㅓ.)

                  * 쓰다 → 써 = write
                  * 끄다 → 꺼 = extinguish (a fire)
                  * 뜨다 → 떠 = float

                  Therefore, 아프다 would become 아퍼.

                  ReplyDelete
                17. Hi, luke.....
                  i have a question....
                  how to conjugate verbs that end with ㅜ without final consonant (like 두다 and 주다) into the past tense (written)?
                  do we just have to replace 다 then add 었다?
                  thank you....

                  ReplyDelete
                18. Hi thank you for your last answer!
                  I have another question ^^
                  will you send a post about the 'decisive' form ? Sorry I'm French and I don't know the right word!
                  Here is what I mean : 사과를 먹은 나는 이에요.
                  you see how to use this kind of form '먹은' and the rules about it.
                  thank you

                  ReplyDelete
                19. Yes, 두다 and 주다 become 두었다 and 주었다.

                  ReplyDelete
                20. Hi SoYoon,

                  Please read "Verbs - Descriptive Form II."

                  The explanations and the rules are there. :)

                  ReplyDelete
                21. hmm isn't that간다 can be used for spoken Korean too?I do have quite a big problem on figuring out whether 간다 or 가 to use at times.
                  Thank you.

                  ReplyDelete
                22. Hi I-vy,

                  간다 can be used in spoken Korean, too.

                  For example, "나 간다" means "I'm going (or I'm leaving)"

                  It's used this way because it's declarative. (You're declaring to your friends that you're going somewhere or simply leaving.)

                  나 가 also means "I'm going or leaving"

                  You can use them interchangeably essentially. :)

                  But 나 간다 is usually used when you're physically leaving right now whereas 나 가 can mean you're going somewhere not neccessarily now.

                  For example,
                  내일 누구 시내 가? = Is anyone going to the city tomorrow?
                  나 가 = I'm going (나 가 is more natural than 나 간다)

                  ReplyDelete
                23. Hi Luke,

                  Is 있다 a "dictionary" verb? I think i hear my friends use it in speech though. What is it, what does it mean, and how is it related to 있어?

                  Thanks

                  ReplyDelete
                  Replies
                  1. Hi Anonymous,

                    Yes, 있다 is a dictionary verb and it means "there is/are," or "I have."

                    있다 can be used like, for example:

                    저기에 집 있다 = There is a house!

                    나 아이폰5 있다 = I have a iPhone 5.

                    있다 is usually used as a declarative statement in spoken Korean.

                    Delete
                24. Hi! I often see verbs like 바쁘다 (Be busy) and 배고프다 (Be hungry) which conjugation in the present tense is 바빠 and 배고파. Why are they not 바뻐 and 배고퍼?

                  ReplyDelete
                25. how would you conjugate 되다?

                  ReplyDelete
                  Replies
                  1. It would be 되어 (present spoken form) and 됬다 (past written form), and 됬어 (past spoken form).

                    Delete
                26. so this might sound like a dumb question but are there only 2 irregular verbs in korean? like in your examples for past tense (written) there were only two: 하다 and 듣다 0___o because that would be great news for me haha.

                  ReplyDelete
                  Replies
                  1. Hi Ewen,

                    하다 and 듣다 were two examples of irregular verbs just off the top of my head.

                    I'm pretty sure there are more,

                    for example,

                    말하다 → 말해 (speak)

                    But well, it's similar to 하다 becoming 해.

                    걷다 → 걸어 (walk)

                    It's similar to the way 듣다 becomes 들어 as well.

                    Actually, I could possibly make a rule on the final consonant, ㄷ, becoming ㄹ, in this case, too.

                    But yeah, there you go, there are more than two irregular forms.

                    Delete
                  2. Could you give me some examples of verbs in sentences (spoken form)???? 주영은 힘차게 달린다 = Ju-young vigorously runs- isnt that plain form of verb???

                    Delete
                  3. Hi Nat Tran,

                    Yes,
                    주영은 힘차게 달린다 = Ju-young vigorously runs is in the present written form.

                    So the present spoken form of it would be 주영은 힘차게 달려

                    Delete
                27. Can you give me some examples of verbs in sentences? As I learned from the previous lessons, you gave some examples like 주영은 힘차게 달린다 = Ju-young vigorously runs, is it plain form of verb???? I'm so confused :( Thank you so much

                  ReplyDelete
                  Replies
                  1. Hi Nat Tran, I've replied to your question above cheers

                    Delete
                28. The bold words in the first table don't match the "Note" beneath them. I'm guessing the explanation in the "Note" is correct, but I just want to make sure...

                  ReplyDelete
                29. Heyy...

                  I've noticed that in many kdramas people use for example 간다, instead of the spoken form? why? If you can say things in spoken form, why use the written form??

                  ReplyDelete
                  Replies
                  1. Written form is used when it's used in a declarative sense.

                    for example, 간다 = I'm going! (declaration)

                    한다 = I'm doing! (declaration.)

                    Delete
                30. What about words like 되다? It should become 돼 shouldn't it? But the above method doesn't work for it or maybe I'm just reading wrong.

                  ReplyDelete
                  Replies
                  1. yes, you're quite right. 되다 becomes 돼.

                    Delete
                  2. i guess I'll count that as one of the irregular forms unless you can find another verb with the same rule that can be applied!

                    Delete
                31. Hi Luke,i'm new here.n ur tutorial help me alot!

                  n for spoken korean rules,

                  【3. For verbs whose last character is 르, drop it off and then attach a final consonant, ㄹ, to the character preceding 르, and then attach 라 or 러 to them.

                  라 for verbs whose character preceding 르 has a vowel, ㅏ or ㅗ.
                  러 for verbs whose character preceding 르 has a vowel, ㅓ, ㅜ or ㅣ.】

                  tis is for verbs with 르,thn hw about Written Korean in Present Tnese,Past Tense n Spoken Past Tense?


                  가르다 → 갈라 = divide
                  자르다 → 잘라 = cut
                  오르다 → 올라 = climb
                  거르다 → 걸러 = filter, sift
                  서두르다 → 서둘러 = hurry
                  구르다 → 굴러 = roll
                  가로지르다 → 가로질러 = go cros


                  i am so confuse for it,hope tat u could help me!
                  thx alot!!!

                  ReplyDelete
                  Replies
                  1. Hi Michelle, sorry for late reply,

                    Well here are the answers!

                    Present Tense (For verbs whose last character has no final consonant, replace 다 with ㄴ 다.)

                    가르다 → 가른다 = divide
                    자르다 → 자른다 = cut
                    오르다 → 오른다 = climb

                    Present Past Tense ( For verbs whose last character has no final consonant, attach ㅆ as a final consonant.)
                    가르다 → 갈랐다 = divide
                    자르다 → 잘랐다 = cut
                    오르다 → 올랐다 = climb

                    Spoken Past Tense (Past (Written) → Past (Spoken) Simply change 다 to 어. )

                    갈랐다 → 갈랐어 = divide
                    잘랐다 → 잘랐어 = cut
                    올랐다 → 올랐어 = climb

                    hope this helps. cheers~

                    Delete

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