Basic Korean Conjugation

I’m reading Korean Grammar In Use – Beginning published by Darakwon (I bought it. It wasn’t given to me for review) and I remember when I started learning Korean, I got confused about conjugation for words and I was worried that I would quit learning Korean because I couldn’t understand it. I searched the internet and found a Japanese page that said that there are only 3 types of conjugation in Korean language. The knowledge made me feel confident that I could learn the language on my own.

Later, I found textbooks that explained it more clearly.

But I’ll try to explain it briefly here.

There are only 3 types of conjugation in Korean language.

Conjugation no. 1 is when you just take the -다 from the dictionary form and stick it together with the grammar.

For example:
먹다 (to eat) + -고 싶다 (want to) = 먹 + 고 싶다 = 먹고 싶다(want to eat).

In textbooks, it’s shown like this, for example:
V-고 싶다
V-고 있다
A/V-지 않아요
(V is verb, A is adjective, of course)

Conjugation n.1

V-고 싶다 is conjugation no. 1

So when you see it in a textbook, you know it’s conjugation no. 1, just omit the -다. Easy.

The form after the -다 is taken is called ‘word stem’. Remember this.

Conjugation no. 2 is when:
– the word stem ends with a vocal, you just stick the word stem with the grammar, just like conjugation no. 1,
– if the word stem ends with a consonant, you add 으, and stick it together with the grammar.

For example:
먹다 ends with a consonant, so you add 으.
먹다 (to eat) + -(으)ㄹ 거예요 (will) = 먹 + 을 거예요 = 먹을 거예요 (will eat)

In textbooks, it’s shown like this, for example:
V-(으)ㄹ 거예요
A/V-(으)ㄹ 때
V-(으)세요
See the (으)? So when you see it in a textbook, you know it’s conjugation no. 2, add 으 if the word stem ends with consonant.

Conjugation no. 2

V-(으) ㄹ 거예요 is conjugation no. 2

Conjugation no. 3 is when you add 아 or 어 to the word stem, and then add the grammar. So,
-if the word stem ends with the vocal ㅏ or ㅗ , you add 아 first, and then after that, you add the grammar.
-if the word stem ends with vocal other than that, you add 어, and then, you add the grammar.

Confusing?
You know the polite -요 form of 먹다 (eat) is 먹어요 , right?
It’s because the vocal of 먹 is ㅓ, and ㅓ is not ㅏ or ㅗ . So you add 어 to 먹, and then you add the grammar -요. Like this: 먹+(어)+요 = 먹어요.

In textbooks, it’s shown like this, for example:
A/V-아/어요
A/V -아/어야 하다
V-아/어 보다

So when you see the 아/어, you know it’s conjugation no. 3.

Conjugation no. 3

V/A-아/어요 is conjugation no. 3

You will have to learn irregular conjugation, too, which is only a variation of basic conjugation, not in addition to. So, basically, there are only 3 types of conjugation for every word. Japanese has 5! Or 6? I don’t remember. 🙂 I’m fluent, though.

I hope this is useful to understand Korean grammar. This is more or less the way Korean textbooks written in Japanese explain it but I don’t know the “official” way to explain Korean conjugation. 🙂 ###

Basic Korean Conjugation”에 대한 3개의 생각

  1. 핑백: Checking Irregular Conjugation on Naver Dictionary | Korean Vitamin

  2. 핑백: Learning Log (Irregular Conjugation ‘ㅎ’) and Today’s My Birthday – Korean Vitamin

  3. 핑백: Irregular Conjugation ‘ㄹ’ – Korean Vitamin

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