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Episode 25: Direct Modifying with Verbs and Adjectives!

안녕하세용 여러분~!!

Please excuse my raspy voice and blocked nose; I've been ill with a cold and fever since Monday. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned feeling ill in my Website Launch video and everything went pretty much downhill from there. I've been bedridden the whole week :/ But I'm not going to be a Debbie-downer and think negatively about it because I got to rest and have my boyfriend take care of me, which was kinda nice :3 Also I'm not going to let this stupid cold stop me from making videos for y'all, so here I am today with yet another complicated Korean grammar topic.

I swear, I am a queen of bad timing! I HAD to choose this super complicated topic for the week when I fall ill, seriously! Regardless, this week we're discussing direct modifying, which is one of the most important grammar topics in Korea. It is incredibly ubiquitous in Korean day-to-day speech so I had to figure out how to best explain it to you guys :)

Review: Korean Sentence Structure

I've mentioned before that all sentences in Korean must end with, either, a conjugated verb or an adjective!

Ex: Subject (noun) + Object (noun) + Conjugated Verb/Adjective

Why adjectives though? In English, adjectives and verbs have little in common. Yet, in Korean, they behave very similarly. A lot of the times adjectives are even referred to as 'descriptive verbs' because they have verb-like qualities, a.k.a being able to be conjugated, yet they serve a descriptive function, just like adjectives in English.

Let's say we have a simple sentence:

그 여자가 예뻐요- This girl is pretty

In this case the adjective serves as a verb, being conjugated from 예쁘다 to 예뻐요 and appearing at the end of the sentence. So is there a way for adjectives in Korean to NOT serve as verbs and simply describe nouns? YES! And it's very simple.

We can transform the sentence above into this:

예쁜 여자- Pretty woman

Here, there is no verb and it's not a complete sentence. However, it illustrates that adjectives in Korean CAN and DO lose their verb qualities to simply describe nouns.

Modifying Using Adjectives

There are a few patterns that you should be aware of when modifying nouns using adjectives/descriptive verbs.

Adjectives without 받침: Just add ㄴ

싸다 --> 싼 - to be cheap --> cheap

비싸다 --> 비싼 - to be expensive --> expensive

크다 --> 큰 - to be big --> big

빠르다 --> 빠른 - to be quick --> quick

싼 옷을 싫어해요- I don't like cheap clothes (NOTE: Not true! I love clothes on sale :3)

이 가게에 비싼 곳이 많아요 - There are a lot of expensive things (곳) in this store (가게).

Adjectives with 받침: Just add 은

좋다 --> 좋은 - to be good --> good

작다 --> 작은 - to be small --> small

많다 --> 많은 - to be many (a lot) --> many (a lot)

같다 --> 같은 - to be the same --> the same

우리 학교에 좋은 사람이 많아요- There are a lot of good people at our school

나의 남자친구는 같은 헨드폰을 있어요- My boyfriend has the same phone

Adjectives ending on 하다: Just add ㄴ

조용하다 --> 조용한 - to be quite --> quite

착하다 --> 착한 - to be nice --> nice

어제 조용한 장소에 있었어요- Yesterday, I was in a quite place

착한 여자친구가 필요해요- I need a kind girlfriend

Adjectives ending on ㅂ: Remove ㅂ + Add 운

춥다 --> 추운 - to be cold --> cold

맵다 --> 매운 - to be spicy --> spicy

뜨겁다 --> 뜨거운 to be hot --> hot

쉽다 --> 쉬운 - to be easy --> easy

뜨거운 국은 너무 맛있어요- Hot soup is very delicious

나는 매운 음식을 좋아하지 않아요- I don't like spicy food

Adjective ending on ㄹ: Remove ㄹ + Add ㄴ

달다 --> 단 - to be sweet --> sweet

길다 --> 긴 - to be long --> long

남자들이 긴 머리 좋아해요- Men like long hair

저는 단 차를 싫어해요- I don't like sweet tea

Adjectives ending with 있다/없다: Just add 는

재미있다 --> 재미있는 - to be fun --> fun

맛없없다 --> 맛없는 - to be tasteless --> tasteless

맛있다 --> 맛있는 - to be tasty --> tasty

*AN OBVIOUS POINT THAT WILL MAKE SENSE LATER: Adjectives that are directly modifying nouns do not have a future or past tense!

Overall, adjectives in Korean can serve multiple purposes. They can act like verbs and help form full sentences by being conjugated AND they can serve as adjectives, describing nouns and having another verb/adjective take the duty at the end of the sentence :)

Modifying Using Action Verbs:

This is when things get tricky... What if I was to tell you that action verbs can be used to describe nouns just like adjective? @_________@

Let's look at 2 English sentences:

I watched a movie yesterday. It was interesting. --> The movie that I watched yesterday was interesting

This example illustrates how in English we can also use action verbs to directly modify nouns, except we use an additional word 'that'.

If directly translated from Korean, the same sentence would sound like:

The watched movie is interesting

There are just no additional words, basically.

Also, directly modifying action verbs can have tenses (unlike adjectives) so here is a break down of how these verbs look like in the future, present and past tense.

Future Tense

Imagine the future tense of any verb and then just get rid of the 거예요. Done!

할 거예요 --> 할

먹을 거예요 --> 먹을

갈 거예요 --> 갈

오늘 먹을 음식은 불고기예요- The food I'll be eating today is Bulgogi

제가 갈 도시는 커요- The city I'll be going to is big

Present Tense

All you need to do is add 는 to the stem of the verb REGARDLESS if the verb has a 받침 or not.

하다 --> 하는

먹다 --> 먹는

가다 --> 가는

제가 먹는 음식은 짜요 --> The food I'm eating is salty

제가 가는 도시는 커요 --> The city I am going to is big

*EXTRA POINT: When using action verbs to directly modify in present tense the meaning of the sentence can become ambiguous and more specifications are required if you want to be understood.

For example, 제가 먹는 음식은 비싸요 can be interpreted as either The food I'm eating is expensive (right now, at this moment) or The food I eat is expensive (habitually).

So how do we get understood? Well, there are a few ways.

1. Add time-specific words like 지금, if you want to specify that it's the food you're eating right now that is expensive, or 항상/보통 to brag about how all the food you eat is expensive.

제가 지금 먹는 음식은 비싸요 vs 제가 항상/보통 먹는 음식은 비싸요

2. Use the ~고 있다 to indicate the continuity of the action

제가 먹고 있는 음식은 비싸요- The food I'm eating right now is expensive

Past Tense

Just like with adjectives, just add ㄴ or 은 to the verb and you're done (Just make sure you're not confusing these verbs with adjectives because, as we know, adjectives do NOT have past tense, right?^^)

하다 --> 한

먹다 --> 먹은

가다 --> 간

*EXTRA POINT: Just like in English, when talking in past tense, the entire sentence is in past tense, the same principle applies to Korean.

제가 먹은 음식은 짰어요- The food I ate was salty

제가 간 도시는 컸어요- The city I went to was big

Phewww....... that was not long at all ^^'' Hope it was helpful though! As I mentioned in the videos, don't get hung up on charts and all possible regular/irregular verbs you can learn. It'll all come to you at as you're learning so don't stress :)

Much love,


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