V/Adj + 던 vs V/Adj + 았/었던 [ Korean Grammar ] 

 July 29, 2021

By  Smriti

Learning grammar is one of the most difficult things for Korean language learners. On this blog we will try to help you learn Korean grammar in the quickest and easiest way possible. This blog will be helpful for those who are studying Korean language and want to improve their grammar skills.

Today we’ll see how to form sentences with Korean grammar pattern " V/Adj-던 and V/Adj-았/었던 "with some example sentences.

V/Adj + 던 VS V/Adj + 았/었던

V/Adj-던 and V/Adj-았/었던 are both for past events which are used to describe an action which happened or occurred in the past.

But there are two things to be kept in mind :

  • Verb 던 is more used for actions that were continued in the past but was interrupted at the time of speaking. 
  • Verb 았/었던 is used for actions that finished in the past and there's nothing happening in the present time.

The Verb + 았/었던 is more used more frequently in daily conversation. But in case you are trying to convey about the action that used to happen but interrupted in the present. Then use Verb 던.

In the case of Adjectives + 았/었던 is more frequently used by Koreans. 

Let's see some examples to understand the differences

In case of : Verb + 던

After removing 다 from the root verb, add 던 after the verb stem irrespective of whether the verb stem ends with a consonant or vowel. 

1) 그는 병원으로 가던 중에 심장이 멎었다.

He had a heart attack on the way to the hospital.

2) 오랜만에 예전에 잘 가던 식당에 가 봤더니 많이 변해 있었다.

I went to a restaurant I used to go to after a long time, and a lot has changed.

3) 옆에서 같이 걷던 껑청한 남학생이 멈춰섰다.

A lofty male student who was walking next to me stopped.

In case of : Verb + 았/었던

After removing 다 from the root verb, add 았/었던 after the verb stem. 

  • If the verb stem ends with 오 or 아 then 았던 is used.
  • In the verb stem ends with anything other than 오 or 아 then 었던 is used. 

1) 뉴욕으로 출장 갔던 일은 어땠어요?

How was your business trip to New York?

2) 요전 날 밤 스테이크 팰리스에서 먹었던 저녁은 어땠어요?

How was dinner the other night at Steak Palace?

3) 지난주에 샀던 책 어땠어요?

How was the book you bought last week?


In case of : Adjective + 았/었던

After removing 다 from the root word, add 았/었던 

  • If the word stem ends with 오 or 아 then 았던 is used.
  • In the word stem ends with anything other than 오 or 아 then 었던 is used. 

1) 그를 보자 화났던 것이 눈 녹듯 사라졌다

When I saw him, my anger disappeared like snow.

2) 그들은 많은 이들로부터 운이 나빴던 것으로 여겨졌다.

They were considered bad luck by many.

3) 하지만 그것도 잠시, 그 아름다웠던 기억들이 조금씩 사라져버리게 되죠.

But soon, the beautiful memories fade away little by little.

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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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