Verbs – an overview

I awoke with the burning desire to step back and get an overview of verbs.  Korean Digital Academy spends 8 classes going over verb conjugation.  (Check out the Key to Fluency videos).  In this blog post, I am going to process what I have learned.

First off, there are three types of verbs.  Verbs that get ㅏadded, verbs that get ㅓadded, and 하다 verbs.  Hada verbs are easy, so I will leave them out of this post.  According to Rob Julien’s clock theory, ㅗ andㅏ get ㅏadded, and the rest get ㅓadded.  Pretty straight forward.


(Refer to my “Leaves Game” post where I conjugate verbs into present, past, and future in the “common/polite” level.  Also, the verb conjugator dongsa.)

Tuttle’s “Mastering Conversational Korean: Korean for Beginners” book refers to this as pattern 5.

  1. Sㅏ/ㅗ + ending 1 (-어)
  2. Severything else + ending 2 (-어)
  3. S + ending 3 (-여)

When practicing conjugating these verbs, you need three examples:

  1. A verb stem that ends in a vowel  Sv
  2. A verb stem that ends in a consonant Sc
  3. A verb stem that ends in a ‘ㄹ’ S

The first thing that you want to do is figure out the “unchanged” and “changed” verb stems  (the base) to which the endings will be added.  This is where vowel contraction may come into play.  Example: 하 + ㅕ = 해.  That is how 하다 gets the unchanged 하 and changed 해.


ㅓ,ㅐ,ㅔ remain unchanged when ㅓ added.

It is common notation to use 하 to represent the unchanged form and 해 to represent the changed form.  For example honorific (formal polite) 하 + ㅂ니다 and common 해 + 요  present tense.  So for the verb 보다 / 봅니다 / 봐요.

Still with me?  OK, so let’s pick out some verbs to work with.


When I go to conjugate these verbs, it helps me to draw a chart.


So to conjugate 오다, it would look like this:


To spell it out in a bit more detail:

verb conjugation

Verbs can also be changed into noun modifiers (adjectives).  In the present tense, that is V-는 or A-ㄴ/은.  Past tense V/A-ㄴ/은. Future tense V/A-(으)ㄹ.

Descriptive verbs can be changed into adverbs  A-게.

There are many endings and other forms of conjugation, but I will just mention a few.  ~서 “so”, ~고  “and”and then, ~러 for the purpose, 못 lack of ability, 안 not, 수 ability or possibility, 잘 knows how or has ability to do something well, ~고 싶다 want to, ~지만 but, ~거나 or,~기 ing.


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One Response to Verbs – an overview

  1. Evita says:

    I think you have mixed up something in your last table:

    안 – don’t
    못 – can’t

    Liked by 1 person

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