Conjugation of Korean Verbs and Adjectives 

 February 3, 2022

By  Smriti

One of the characteristics of Korean verbs and adjectives is that they both are conjugated according to tense, speech level, passive and causative forms, and speech styles.

Verbs and adjectives consist of a word stem and word ending, with their base forms consisting of the word stem plus 다.

This form is also called the ’dictionary form or root form".


When conjugated, the word stems of verbs and adjectives do not change; rather, 다 is replaced with the appropriate form depending on the speaker’s intention.

For example : 

자다 verb which means to sleep,  consists of 자 + 다 

자 is the stem and 다 is the end is removed or replaced with other sentence endings. 


Another example : 

먹다  which means to eat. 

먹 is the stem and 다 has to be removed or replaced with other sentence endings. 


There are two key points to remember : 

When the stem of the word ends with a 오 or 아 like in case of 자 + 다 where the stem ends with 아, 

You simply have to add 아요 in the end. 

When the stem of the word ends with anything other than 오 or 아 like in case of 먹 + 다 where the stem ends with ㄱ, 

You simply have to add 어요 in the end. 


So looking at the two examples 자다 and 먹다 

자다 - 자 remove 다 - 자 +아 요 = 자요

먹다 - 먹 remove 다 - 먹 - 어요 = 먹어요


Some more examples : 

오다 - 오 remove 다 - 오 + 아요 = 와요

가다 - 가 remove 다 - 가 + 아요 = 가요

말하다 - 말하 remove 다 - 말하 + 아요 = 말해요

가르치다 - 가르치 remove 다 - 가르치 + 어요 = 가르쳐요 


There are several ways to conjugate. Let's look at them with one example of 보다

English

Korean

Tone

I see

Informal

I see (Present Tense)

봐요

Polite/Neutral

I see

봅니다

Formal

I saw

봤어

Informal

I saw (Past Tense)

봤어요

Polite/Neutral

I saw

봤습니다

Formal

Will see

볼 거야

Informal

Will see (Future Tense)

볼 거예요

Polite/Neutral

Will see

볼 겁니다

Formal

The verb 보다 (boda) can also take other forms of conjugation. Let’s take a look at the table below to get familiar with them.

English

Korean

Tone

See!

봐라

Informal Command

See!

보세요

Polite Command

See!

보십시오

Formal Command

Let's see

보자

Informal/Neutral

Let's see

봅시다

Polite/Formal

When/if I see

보면

Can see

볼 수 있어

Informal

Can see

볼 수 있어요

Neutral/Polite

Can see

볼 수 있습니다

Formal

Cannot see

볼 수 없어

Informal

Cannot see

볼 수 없어요

Neutral/Polite

Cannot see

볼 수 없습니다

Formal

Must see

봐야 해요

Neutral/Polite

Must see

봐야 합니다

Formal

Want to see

보고 싶어

Informal

Want to see

보고 싶어요

Neutral/Polite

Want to see

보고 싶습니다

Formal

Don't want to see

보고 싶지 않아

Informal

Don't want to see

보고 싶지 않아요

Neutral/Polite

Not see

보지 않아

Informal

Not see

보지 않아요

Neutral/Polite

Not see

보지 않습니다

Formal

Am/are/is seeing

보고 있어

Informal

Am/are/is seeing

보고 있어요

Neutral/Polite

Am/are/is seeing

보고 있습니다

Formal

Shall we see?

볼까

Informal

Shall we see?

볼까요

Neutral/Polite

Saw it

봤더라

Informal Fact Declaration

Saw it

봤던데요

Neutral/Polite Declaration

Conjugating 만들다 (mandeulda) “to make” ending with ㄹ consonant.

Below is a table with the different conjugations for the verb 만들다 (mandeulda) following the different tenses (Past, Present, and Future Tense) and tones.

English

Korean

Tone

I make

만들어

Informal

I make (Present Tense)

만들어요

Polite/Neutral

I make

만듭니다

Formal

I made

만들었어

Informal

I made (Past Tense)

만들었어요

Polite/Neutral

I made

만들었습니다

Formal

Will make

만들 거야

Informal

Will make (Future Tense)

만들 거예요

Polite/Neutral

Will make

만들 겁니다

Formal

The verb 만들다 (mandeulda) can also take other forms of conjugation. Let’s take a look at the table below to get familiar with them.

Korean

English

Tone

만들어라

Make!

Informal Command

만드세요

Make!

Polite command

만드십시오

Make!

Formal command

만들자

Let's make

Informal/Neutral

만듭시다

Let's make

Polite/Formal

만들고

I make, and

만들면

When/if I make

만들 수 있어

Can make

Informal

만들 수 있어요

Can make

Neutral/Polite

만들 수 있습니다

Can make

Formal

만들 수 없어

Cannot make

Informal

만들 수 없어요

Cannot make

Neutral/Polite

만들 수 없습니다

Cannot make

Formal

만들어야 해

Must make

Informal

만들어야 해요

Must make

Neutral/Polite

만들어야 합니다

Must make

Formal

만들고 싶어

Want to make

Informal

만들고 싶어요

Want to make

Neutral/Polite

만들고 싶습니다

Want to make

Formal

만들고 싶지 않아

Don't want to make

Informal

만들고 싶지 않아요

Don't want to make

Neutral/Polite

만들지 않아

Not make

Informal

만들지 않아요

Not make

Neutral/Polite

만들지 않습니다

Not make

Formal

만들고 있어

Am/are/is making

Informal

만들고 있어요

Am/are/is making

Neutral/Polite

만들고 있습니다

Am/are/is making

Formal

만들까

Shall we make?

Informal

만들까요

Shall we make it?

Neutral/Polite

만들었더라

Made it

Informal Declaration

만들었던데요

Made it

Neutral/Polite Declaration

It might take some time to understand properly. I would suggest you be fimiliar with the different speech levels in Korean first and try conjugating the words mentioned in the table slowly.

If you can't wrap your head around the concept of Hangul, the Korean writing system.

Please check this link. Here !! 

If you’re able to read and write Korean alphabets. You might wanna check :

Don't get discouraged if you're not able to understand the conjugation of verbs and adjectives initially. 

More practice will help you understand the concept more clearly.

It was a short lesson. We'll see you in the next. 


To understand TOPIK Test structure, application process, Levels and Passing scores etc. check these pages:

  1. TOPIK – The Complete Guide & 2. TOPIK Levels and Passing Marks. You can also Practice Online with TOPIK GUIDE Mock Tests.

If you are going to take the TOPIK Test for the first time, or if you want to give your score a boost so that you can pass a higher level, we would strongly advise you to get the Complete Guide to TOPIK – Self-Study Package. It is a digital study package that has everything you need to get a great score in the TOPIK test – all the past TOPIK papers with answer sheets, grammar and vocabulary study material, video tutorials explaining the test structure, strategies to solve them and much more. You can check out more details about this study package HERE.

Learning Korean can be tricky, especially when the goal of your learning is conversation. If you’ve ever attempted to speak Korean but were unable to, then hopefully you’ll find this post helpful.

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions. Comment down below.

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