Episode 29: ~Weekly Korean~ Episode 29: ~야 하다 /되다!


I've been having extremely busy days lately due to apartment hunting and my dad flying all the way from Russia to visit me. After weeks and weeks of flat hunting and tons of stress I can finally say that I have a place to live next year! Wooooo~ And now that my dad's vacation is over, I can go back to my normal life of making Korean learning videos for you guys :)

Today we'll be discussing a topic, which in Korean actually makes more sense than in English... or at least I hope so! It is the ~야 되다/하다 (with a pinch of other concepts like ~지 and ~겠다). This verb/adjective modifier creates a meaning of "have to/must/should". In English these verbs have distinct meanings, yet in Korean the boundaries are more blurred.

We can say that ~야 하다 implies that you have a choice, whereas ~야 되다 implies that you have no choice whether to do something or not. For example:

은동을 해야 해요 vs. 세금을 내야 돼요

I should exercise vs. I should pay taxes

In English these sentences can feature the same verb 'should,' yet their meanings are slightly different. In Korean the difference is more apparent because of the different verb usage.

With that said, despite the clear difference in meaning between 하다 and 되다, native Korean speakers most often use ~야 되다 rather than ~야 하다. So don't fret too much if you mix them up occasionally; you will be understood either way :)

The way ~야 하다 /되다 can be added to verbs/adjectives is very simple. If a verb/adj has a 받침 then an additional vowel (either or ) is added. For example:

먹다 --> 먹어야 되다 (to eat)

됀찮다 --> 괜찮아야 되다 (to be ok)

If a verb/adj doesn't have a 밭침 then everything becomes just that much more simpler. You just add ~야 하다 /되다 and you're done. For example:

가다 --> 가야 하다 (to go)

떠나다 --> 떠나야 하다 (to leave)

With verbs that change their form slightly when conjugated, this can appear to be a bit of a challenge, but it isn't. Just think of the simplest conjugation of that word and add the ~야 하다 /되다 to it. For example:

다니다 --> 다녀야 하다 (to attend)

느끼다 --> 느껴야 하다 (to feel)

And lastly, 하다 verbs are just as simple in this case. Just conjugate 하다 to 해요 and then take out the . For example:

날씬하다 --> 날씬해야 되다 (to be skinny)

엄격하다 --> 엄격해야 하다 (to be strict)

Simple Examples:

내일은 일찍 일어나야 돼요- I have to wake up early tomorrow

일을 하기 전에 조금 운동을 해야 돼요- I should do a little bit of exercise before I go to work

이 일을 끝내고 싶으면 우리는 협조해야 해요- If you want to finish this work we have to cooperate

아내가 기다려서 빨리 돌아가야 돼요- I have to return quickly because my wife is waiting for me

대학교에 가고 싶다면 열심히 공부해야 해요- If you want to go to University you have to study hard

Conjugating ~야 되다/하다

Past tense:

그때 열심히 일해야 되었어요- That time I had to work really hard

어제는 지겁을 잃어버려서 친구에게 돈을 빌려야 됐어요- Yesterday, because I lost my wallet, I had to borrow money from a friend

Future tense:

10분 후에 가야 될 거야- We should go in 10 minutes

그 이를 뽑아야 될 것 같아요 - We might have to pull out that tooth

~지 and ~죠

These two basically give the same meaning to the sentence as the ~야 하다 /되다 and are mostly used in conversations. Fo example:

우리는 빨리 가야죠 or 우리가 빨리 가야지 (We have to go fast), can be used instead of: 우리는 빨리 가야 해요/돼요

운명을 믿어야지- We should believe in fate

먹어야지!- You should eat!


Talking about the future, it is possible to use in combination with the ~야 하다 /되다. For example:

밥을 먹어야 하겠다- I will have to eat

In colloquial speech the ~야 하겠다 can be shortened to ~야 겠다. For example:

나는 지금 가야겠다- I will have to eat

Be aware that there is no direct translation of 겠 to English, which can cause some confusion. Most of the time 겠 is used during a conversation when the previous statement triggered the answer or when an action has triggered that answer. In the video I look at the clock and say 나는 지금 가야겠다, which means something like "I guess I should go now" or "I better get going now."

Don't worry too much about direct English to Korean translations and enjoy your learning journey. It will all come clear when (or if) you immerse yourself into Korean speaking environment and get used to their ways of talking.

Hope this helped!

Let me know if you have any questions :)

Much love,


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