Struggling to understand verb conjugation

My struggles with verb conjugation continue.  For example, I can be shown the following conjugation of the verb 쓰다  to write/use/bitter.



I can’t perceive the pattern, let alone know how to reproduce this myself.

Incomprehensible pig latin.  I can’t even describe where my problem is.

All I know is the only verbs I can manage to use are the ones I have memorized already conjugated.  The amount of vocabulary and sentences coming at me far exceeds my ability to memorize all those individual facts.  I need patterns.  I need a way to organize.  I need a way to create verbs.

map-readinglostI suspect the reason I have trouble with knowing how to use these conjugated verbs I have memorized is I just don’t have a way to look at some collection of hangul symbols and know what tense it is, how it got the way it did, what logic there is.  I am sure there IS logic.  I trust Korean as a far more logical language than English.  But without my map, without a key, I am a lost traveler.

I can do ok with the vocabulary review, but when it comes to being asked to conjugate something into the different levels – nothing.  My brain produces nothing.  A total blank slate.

conjugateThis was James’ response when I asked for help figuring out verb conjugation,

Haha!  Made me laugh.  OK, so you taught me a new word CONJUGATION James, but that won’t help me with my current inability to conjugate verbs.  He rattled off a few conjugations of the verb to eat, then gave up with “and so on, many many conjugations.”  Yes, dear.  That is my problem!

Another of my Korean pen pals got dragged into the conjugation discussion.  He went above and beyond the call of duty by consulting a fellow teacher and emailing the text below to assist me.   So I learned 2 new words today: euphony and phoneme deletion.


씁니다’, ‘’ etc. can be analysed into ‘+ㅂ니다’ and ‘+’.

because a basic style of these verbs’ form is ‘쓰다’.

ㅂ니다’ and ‘’ are “endings”.

However, when we conjugate some verbs, a part of basic form of a verb,

there could sometimes be a peculiar euphony which is dropped out in Korean.

This is a kind of representative example like in the case of that if conjugating with “쓰다‘ will be turned into ’‘.

As we know in case of ‘’, when an ending starts with vowel, ‘’, ‘’ of the stem, ‘’ should basically be omitted.

this is the same as ‘++’ can be ‘썼다’.

After ‘’ of ‘’ is of phoneme deletion, if vowel ‘’ combines to the remainder of ‘’, it becomes ‘’.

Here are the verbs I am suppose to be able to conjugate for class 17:

to like
to love
to study
to work
to cook

to watch
to play/hang out
to come
to bring
to come
to come out

to wake up
to know
to receive
to meet
to sit
to go
to live
to go out
to ski
to take a taxi
to buy
to sell

to learn
to cry
to laugh
to give
to smoke
to dance
to fight
to die
to swim
to sing
to speak

17_AnyQuestionsThat last slide in class mocks me.  Any questions?  More than I could possibly formulate.  My head is spinning!

The fact that I feel like I am drowning is just a normal stage in the learning process, right?

It is like I need to reverse engineer the information.  I can’t understand what is going on from the video, the accompanying documentation only gives sample sentences and a quiz on conjugating.  Where is the part where it say “in this tense take verb stem X + ending Y = conjugated Z?

(Note to self:  When you want to find screen shots on your phone, look in the Phone\Pictures\Screenshots directory. To take screen shots, press and hold the S Pen anywhere on the screen while holding down the S Pen button. The screenshot will be copied to the clipboard and saved to the Screenshots folder in Gallery.)

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6 Responses to Struggling to understand verb conjugation

  1. Al says:

    Use Verbix Korean. Google it. 🙂


  2. I think I might be able to help you with conjugation. However, I don’t quite understand what is it that you don’t get. There definitely is a pattern but the explanation depends on what you do actually understand about verbs or whether you’re able to identify the verb stem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jreidy17 says:

      1. I know I can drop the 다 from the infinitive form to get the “unchanged” form. How to figure out the “changed” form is a mystery.

      2. What are the names for the different kinds of conjugations and when do I use them?

      3. What are the patterns to make the conjugations in those different verb tenses?

      polite/common (unchanged form verb stem) + 요

      honorific/formal polite/statement/present tense V(unchanged form – ends with vowel) + ㅂ + 입니다
      V(unchanged form – ends with consonant) + 입니다

      Now, I haven’t checked if those are even real patterns, just wild guesses off the top of my head because I can’t figure this stuff out.

      It has something to do with changed and unchanged form of verbs with something or other added which might depend on whether it ends in a consonant or not. I guess. I don’t know. I can’t see the pattern.

      I need the language to be reduced to a math formula, not just give examples. I guess other people can see the examples and understand. I just can’t make that connection. So I am puzzled and confused. I make random guesses.


  3. I see where you’re at. Before explaining anything else: This link is for conjugating into basic present tense: and for basic past tense:
    I wrote the steps you need to take to be able to use those forms which depends heavily on the last vowel and whether there’s a final consonant or not. So please first read the posts first ^^.

    To be honest, there’s just 3 normal conjugations (past, present and future) while the other “endings” are just the moods or modal of the verb (moods being the attitude of the speaker and modal works like an auxiliary verb). Let’s take for example the list you made of 쓰다.
    쓰다 is the basic dictionary form.
    씁니다 is 쓰+ ㅂ니다 (because it ends in a vowel) and it is still in present tense but written in a politer way (also widely used for beginners of Korean to write essays)
    쓰세요- 쓰+ (으)세요=쓰세요 (the 으 is only used if there’s a final consonant) and it is still in present tense but in a imperative form (mood).
    써- this is present form of informal way of writing or speaking (it just drops the -요)
    썼어요- 쓰+었/았어요=썼어요. This is the basic past tense and because the final vowel is ㅡ get’s eliminated but because you still have 어 it becomes 써 plus the tense so it becomes 썼어요.
    쓸거예요- 쓰+ ㄹ/을 거예요 (this is the basic future tense) and because it ends in a vowel you only add ㄹ (을 is used only when it the verb stem ends in a consonant).
    *You will want to either learn how to write in 요 or ㅂ니다/습니다 (the latter being the easiest) so you don’t get confused thinking they’re different (they’re just different in politeness levels but not in a grammatical sense)
    I think you got more or less the gist of conjugating but I guess they haven’t explained how do you do it. I am bit more like you in the sense that I need formulas so I can understand but sometimes you just need to let it soak in (my motto is: don’t question it, just do it). Also, try sticking with conjugating present tense till you get it so you can continue onto the others.
    I hope I was able to help and if you have more questions or doubts or just want to check your progress with conjugation, feel free to PM me or keep commenting ^^.

    Liked by 1 person

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