Plain Form -는다/다

I just realized that it’s been over a month since my last post. All I can say is that I’ve been busy studying and traveling he. I’m on the verge of finishing the last Ewha Korean 3-2 (I’m in the last chapter). Once I’m done with the book, I will review all the grammar points I didn’t get and see if I can post them here. I’m also preparing for the writing section in TOPIK II so you will see a lot of posts related to that (some will be long, others short).

Korean, like any other language, has a established format for writing formally. It is usually called the plain form in English. It doesn’t require the usage of any politeness level as it’s not directed at anyone in particular. It is seen in academic writings, novels, newspapers and dictionaries. It is also one of the most important points of the writing portion for TOPIK II. It’s pretty straightforward, but it can be tricky f you confuse action verbs with descriptive verbs. In addition, it uses the plain form pronouns such as 나.

A. Present Tense:

Part 1: Action Verbs

a. Stem ends in a vowel= -ㄴ다.

Ex: 사다–> 사 + ㄴ다= 산다

b. Stem ends in a consonant=  -는다.

Ex: 먹다 –> 먹 + 는다= 먹는다

Important note: If a stem ends with ㄹ, you drop the ㄹ and add -ㄴ다.

Ex: 열다–> 연다.

Part 2: Descriptive Verbs

Stem +다

Note: It doesn’t matter if it ends in a consonant or vowel. The verbs 있다/없다 are treated as descriptive.

Part 3: 이다

If the preceding word (the noun) ends in a consonant: 이다

Ex: 학생이다.

If the preceding word ends in a vowel: -다

Ex: 사과다.


It is something that a lot of people seem to get wrong so I will point it out.

If you’re negating using -지 않다 or even if you’re applying a grammar point at the end, it follows the 3 rules mentioned above.

Action verbs:

Ex: 먹고 싶어 하다 (x)–>먹고 싶어 한다.

Ex: 먹지 않다 (x)–> 먹지 않는다.

Descriptive verbs:

Ex: 예쁘지 않는다 (x)–> 예쁘지 않다

Copula (이다)

Ex: 쉽기 때문인다 (x)–> 쉽기 때문이다.

(even if it’s with an action verb!)

Exception for 있다/없다.

If you use these two verbs, they will always be the focal point of the plain form so it follows their rule.

Ex: 할 수 있는다 (x)–> 할 수 있다.

B. Past tense:

It’s quite simple as every action and descriptive verb are conjugated the same way.

Stem + 았/였다.

a. 이다:

Consonant= 이였다

Vowel= 였다

C. Future tense:

a. Action, descriptive verbs:

Stem +(으)ㄹ 것이다.

note: You have to look out for the exceptions such as the verb 다르다 (it’s conjugated as 다를 것이다).

b. 이다:

Noun +일 것이다


That’s it for today! Until next time~

Korean Intransitive and Transitive Verbs

There are some verbs in Korean that exists as both transitive and intransitive (like in English and other languages). Transitive means the verb needs an object while intransitive does not need it or accept it. I decided that I would unveil which one was which. Once you find out it will definitely improve your writing skills.

There are some verbs that end in 나다/내다 like 끝나다 and 끝내다. When I first encountered them way long ago, my teacher didn’t make a distinction over their use. It started niggling me some days ago so I started looking information on it. I want to point out that not every -나다/내다 verb refers to its transitiveness or not, but if you encounter two verbs that means the same but just ends slightly different there’s a high probability it’s just denoting its transitiveness.

If the verb ends in -나다: it is intransitive.

If the verb ends in -내다: it is transitive.

There also other endings as well like for example there’s the verb 서다 (to stop, stand) and 타다 (to burn). Both are intransitive verbs but they have transitive counterparts.

서다 —> 세우다

타다—> 태우다

I can assume that probably any verb ending like that will be transitive and I think 에/애 are a sign that you can use objects. At least, it is what it looks like.


That’s it for now! I will keep updating this post as I find more information about it.

Until, next time!~

How to conjugate into the basic past tense using the -요/-ㅂ니다 form

I’ve had this document written a really long time ago but I had completely forgotten about it…but here it is ^^.

A. The basic past tense in –요 form is formed by adding -었어요/았어요/했어요 to the verb stem.

The rules for the past are the same as those for conjugating into the present tense:

  1. Remove the –다 from the verb.
  2. If the last vowel is a an ㅗorㅏ you’ll add –았어요.
  3. For the rest of the vowels –었어요is used.

Ex. 가다→갔어요.

Ex. 좁다→좁았어요.

Ex. 크다→컸어요

Ex. 먹다→먹었어요

B. The basic past tense in-ㅂ/습니다 form is formed simply by only adding –습니다 to the -었/았/했. Everything else is the same as the –요 form.

Ex. 가다→갔습니다

Ex. 죽다→ 죽었습니다

How to conjugate into the present tense in –요 form and -ㅂ니다/습니다 form

You’ll know which are the verbs because they always have attached –다 at the end. These are the rules for conjugating verbs into the present tense in the –요.

  1. Remove the –다 so you’re left only with the verb stem. Ex. 가다 (to go)  → 가
  2. Depending on the whether it ends in vowel or consonant you will add the following to the verb stem:
  • If its final vowel is ㅏor ㅗ, you will add to the stem –아요. If it already ends in 아 you just add –요. Ex. 가다→가요.
  • In the case it ends in the vowelㅗ, it’ll always become 와. Ex. 보다 (to look) →봐요.
  • If it ends in a consonant, you simply add the –아요. Ex. 같다→같아요.

3. If it’s all the other vowels, you will add to the verb stem –어요. If it already ends on –어, it just replaces it. In this one depends on the vowels so I’ll just cover some of the most basic ones.

  •       Ex. 쓰다 (To write) →써요 (으usually becomes 어)
  •       Ex. 마시다 (To drink) → 마셔요 (이 usually becomes 여)
  •       Ex. 춤추다 (To dance)→ 춤춰요 (우 usually becomes 워)
  •       If it ends in a consonant and is a regular verb, you simply add the –어요.

4. If it ends in the syllable 하, add the –여요.

  • It always become 해; ex. 하다→해요.

For the -ㅂ니다/습니다 form:

  1. You don’t have to add anything like in the –요 form.
  2. If the verb stem ends in vowel, you add –ㅂ니다. Ex. 가다→갑니다.
  3. If the verb stem ends in consonant, you add습니다. Ex. 찍다→찍습니다.