Korean Conjugation – How to Use Verbs & Adjectives

Last Updated on September 30, 2022 by 90 Day Korean
A boy standing while reading a book

In this lesson, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Korean conjugation.

We’ll explain what Korean conjugation is, how to use it, and when to use it.

Let’s go over some common Korean conjugations – and rules related to them – so that you can get kickstarted on creating your own, conjugated sentences!

A boy standing while reading a book

Below is a free PDF guide for “Korean Conjugation” that you can download and take with you:

What is Korean conjugation?

Korean conjugations in Korean grammar determine the meaning, tense, tone, and mood of sentences. It’s important to learn conjugation as you progress in learning Korean.

For example, let’s say you’re going to use the verb “go” in a sentence. The base form is in Korean is:

Base Form: 가다 (gada) – to go

However, you need to change it to the present tense.

Conjugated Korean verb: 저는 가요 (I go)

We’ve added 저는 (“I”) as the subject, and then conjugated 가다 (to go).

However, unlike in any other language, Korean grammar takes conjugation to another level. Conjugations in Korean aren’t limited to Korean verbs. Other parts of speech such as adjectives can be conjugated.

Korean Verb and Adjective Conjugation

Korean verb and adjective conjugations are almost the same. Most of the conjugation rules for Korean verbs also apply to adjectives. Once you learn the Korean verb conjugation rules, it’ll be easy to conjugate adjectives.

How many conjugations are there in Korean?

There are 40 basic verb endings but there are over 400 verb endings when all are combined. They are made up of the different Korean grammar categories such as the different tenses (past, present, and future tense), honorifics, and voices to name a few.

Korean Verb Conjugation

Common Korean verb conjugations can be classified into two: verb endings and tenses. There are nine Korean verb endings and three verb tenses you can start learning.

These verb conjugations will allow you to build your own sentences and express yourself.

For example, if you want to say you’re not good at something, you’ll use the verb ending ~지 못 해요 (~ji mot haeyo).

If you want to tell your friend of your plan tomorrow or on the coming weekend, you’ll use the future tense verb conjugation.

Korean verb endings

These are a few of the common Korean verb endings you can use for verb conjugation.

  1. 입니다 (imnida), 이에요(ieyo) or 예요 (yeyo)– Is, am, are
  2. 있다 (itda ) – To have, To exist and
  3. 없다 (eopda )– Not to have, To not exist
  4. ~지 않아요 (~ji anayo) – Don’t
  5. ~지 않았어요 (~ji anasseoyo)  – Didn’t
  6. ~지 않을 거예요 (~ji aneul geoyeyo) – Won’t
  7.  ~지 못 해요 (~ji mot haeyo) –Can’t
  8. ~지 했어요 (~ji haesseoyo) – Couldn’t
  9. ~지 할 거예요 (~ji hal geoyeyo)– Won’t be able to

Korean Present Tense

When expressing Korean verbs in the present, the Korean verb conjugations used are 아요 (ayo) or 어요 (eoyo) and ㅂ니다 (bnida) or 습니다 (seumnida).

Korean Past Tense

When expressing Korean verbs in the past, the Korean verb conjugation used are the 았어요 (asseoyo) and 었어요 (eosseoyo).

Korean Future Tense

The Korean verb conjugation used for future tense is the 겠어요 (gesseoyo) and (으)ㄹ 거예요 (eul geoyeyo).

Korean verb conjugator

If you want to easily make a verb conjugation, you can use a Korean verb conjugator. You can use the link below for making a verb conjugation:

Korean Verb Conjugator

Korean verb conjugation can be a bit tough to learn when you’re just beginning to learn Korean. It’ll become easier as you progress by learning more Korean verb endings and practice using them more often. Soon, you’ll be able to master Korean verb conjugation!

How does Korean Verb Conjugation work?

Korean verb conjugation is pretty easy to do. All you need to do is to drop the 다 verb endings from the verb stem and then add the appropriate verb endings. The correct verb endings to be used when conjugating verbs are determined by the final or last vowel after dropping the 다 verb endings from the verb stem.

We’ll get more into the details of conjugations in Korean in a while.

What’s the common Korean verb conjugation?

The common Korean verb conjugation is the use of 아요 (ayo) and 어요 (eoyo) which gives the Korean verb its polite and present tense form.

Let’s use the Korean verbs 자다 (jada) and 먹다 (meokda) as an example. These 2 Korean verbs are both in their verb stem form.

As mentioned earlier, verb conjugations in Korean happen by dropping the 다 verb endings from the verb stem.

For the Korean verbs 자다 and 먹다, we’ll need to drop the 다 verb endings which will make them:

자다

먹다

If the final or last vowel after dropping 다 is either ㅏ or ㅗ, you’ll use 아요. But if the final or last vowel after dropping 다 is ㅓ, ㅣ, or ㅜ, you’ll use 어요. So for the two examples of Korean verbs above, they’ll become

자요 (jayo)

먹어요 (meogeoyo)

A group of people dining together in one table

How important is it to learn Korean Conjugation?

When learning the Korean language, particularly Korean grammar, Korean verb conjugation is very important to learn. As mentioned earlier, it sets the tense, tone, and meaning of your sentences which are basically all essential elements you’ll need when communicating.

Koreans give emphasis to politeness in everything including their language. Korean verb conjugation will help you show your respect and politeness towards a person.

Once you get familiar with the different conjugations, it’ll be easy for you to convey and appear to be respectful and polite.

Which part of the verb do you conjugate?

Before learning which part of the Korean verb we need to conjugate, we need to take note that each Korean verb, adverb, and adjective consist of two pieces: a stem and an ending. The first part is the stem and 다 is the ending. These are usually their dictionary form.

When you conjugate any word, you will drop the 다 and replace it with the conjugation. Whenever you conjugate a verb, you only need to think of your tense and tone. The conjugation doesn’t change for the first person, second person, multiple people, etc.

Let’s take a quick look at some common Korean verbs in their basic form or dictionary form!

말하 (malhada)

to speak

만나 mannada)

to meet

가르치 (gareuchida)

to teach

These Korean verbs are made up of a verb stem and a 다 ending.

How to make the conjugation form of the verbs

In addition to what we already know about how we conjugate verbs in Korean, there are many conjugations that come together with a small puzzle piece that connects the stem to the conjugation in the most natural way. Let’s look at some simple examples of this.

말하다 + -아/어 → 말해요 (malhaeyo)

만나다 + -아/어 → 만나요 (mannayo)

닫다 + -아/어 → 닫아요 (dadayo)

가르치다 + -아/어 → 가르쳐요 (gareuchyeoyo)

As you can see, the puzzle piece slightly changes the verb stem it joins. Most of the time the Korean verbs play nice with them, so the rules are easy to learn.

How do I combine the verb stem and conjugation?

Simply, when 아 meets 아, it drops out. And when 아 meets 오, they connect together into one syllable; for example, 보 becomes 봐. When the verb stem ends in a consonant after 아 or 오, 아 becomes its own syllable.

For all other verb stems, you connect them with 어. When the verb stem ends with 이 the 이 + 어 combination cooks up 여. Only the verb 하다 is different and turns into 해.

Some conjugations also require the puzzle piece 으 to be connected when a verb stems ends with a consonant. (으)면, which we will introduce below, is one such conjugation. We’ll go over how to conjugate irregular verbs at a later time.

Girls and boys doing activities, walking, jumping, having fun.

Common Korean conjugations

In this part of the lesson, we’ll be showing the different conjugations for 2 of the commonly used Korean verbs 보다 (boda)  and 만들다 (mandeulda).

보다 (boda) and 만들다 (mandeulda) are the dictionary form of the Korean verbs “to watch or to see” and “to make”. Both Korean verbs are made up of a verb stem and a 다 (da) ending.

Notice that the Korean verbs 보다 (boda) and 만들다 (mandeulda) have different last letters when 다 (da) is dropped. 보다 (boda) ends in a vowel while 만들다 (mandeulda) ends in a consonant.

Let’s go over how to conjugate these common Korean verbs so that you can immediately see how all this works!

보다 (boda) Conjugation

Below is a table with the different conjugations for the verb 보다 (boda) that ends in a vowel following the different tenses and tones.

KoreanEnglishTone
봐 (bwa)I seeInformal
봐요 (bwayo)I see (Present Tense)Polite / Neutral
봅니다 (bomnida)I seeFormal
봤어 (bwasseo)I sawInformal
봤어요 (bwasseoyo)I saw (Past Tense)Polite / Neutral
봤습니다 (bwasseumnida)I sawFormal
볼 거야 (bol geoya)Will seeInformal
볼 거예요 (bol geoyeyo)Will see (Future Tense)Polite / Neutral
볼 겁니다 (bol geomnnida)Will seeFormal

The verb 보다 (boda) can also take other forms of conjugation. Let’s take a look at the table below to get familiar with them.

Korean EnglishTone
봐라 (bwara)See!Informal Command
보세요 (boseyo)See!Polite Command
보십시오 (bosibsio)See!Formal Command
보자 (boja)Let's see Informal / Neutral
봅시다 (bopsida)Let's see Polite / Formal
보고 (bogo)I see, and
보면 (bomyeon)When/if I see
볼 수 있어 (bol su isseo)Can seeInformal
볼 수 있어요 (bol su isseoyo)Can seeNeutral / Polite
볼 수 있습니다 (bol su isseumnida)Can seeFormal
볼 수 없어 (bol su eopseo)Cannot seeInformal
볼 수 없어요 (bol su eopseoyo)Cannot seeNeutral / Polite
볼 수 없습니다 (bol su eopseumnida)Cannot seeFormal
봐야 해 (bwaya hae)Must seeInformal
봐야 해요 (bwaya haeyo)Must seeNeutral / Polite
봐야 합니다 (bwaya hamnida)Must seeformal
보고 싶어 (bogo sipeo)Want to seeInformal
보고 싶어요 (bogo sipeoyo)Want to seeNeutral / Polite
보고 싶습니다 (bogo sipseumnida)Want to seeFormal
보고 싶지 않아 (bogo sipji ana)Don't want to see Informal
보고 싶지 않아요 (bogo sipji anayo)Don't want to see Neutral / Polite
보지 않아 (boji ana)Not see Informal
보지 않아요 (boji anayo)Not seeNeutral / Polite
보지 않습니다 (boji anseumnida)Not seeFormal
보고 있어 (bogo isseo)Am/are/is seeing Informal
보고 있어요 (bogo isseoyo)Am/are/is seeing Neutral / Polite
보고 있습니다 (bogo isseumnida)Am/are/is seeing Formal
볼까 (bolkka)Shall we see?Informal
볼까요 (bolkkayo)Shall we see?Neutral / Polite
봤더라 (bwatdeora)Saw itInformal Fact Declaration
봤던데요 (bwatdeondeyo)Saw itNeutral / Polite Fact Declaration

만들다 (mandeulda) Conjugation

The Korean verb 만들다 (mandeulda) means “to make.” Below is a table with the different conjugations for the verb 만들다 (mandeulda) following the different tenses (Past, Present, and Future Tense) and tones.

KoreanEnglishTone
만들어 (mandeureo)I makeInformal
만들어요 (mandeureoyo)I make (Present Tense)Polite / Neutral
만듭니다 (mandeumnida)I makeFormal
만들었어 (mandeureosseo)I madeInformal
만들었어요 (mandeureosseoyo)I made (Past Tense)Polite / Neutral
만들었습니다 (mandeureosseumnida)I madeFormal
만들 거야 (mandeul geoya)Will makeInformal
만들 거예요 (mandeul geoyeyo)Will make (Future Tense)Polite / Neutral
만들 겁니다 (mandeul geomnnida)Will makeFormal

The verb 만들다 (mandeulda) can also take other forms of conjugation. Let’s take a look at the table below to get familiar with them.

KoreanEnglishTone
만들어라
(mandeureora)
Make!Informal Command
만드세요
(mandeuseyo)
Make!polite command
만드십시오
(mandeusibsio)
Make!formal command
만들자
(mandeulja)
Let's make Informal / Neutral
만듭시다
(mandeupsida)
Let's make Polite / Formal
만들고
(mandeulgo)
I make, and
만들면
(mandeulmyeon)
When/if I make
만들 수 있어
(mandeul su isseo)
Can makeInformal
만들 수 있어요
(mandeul su isseoyo)
Can makeNeutral / Polite
만들 수 있습니다
(mandeul su isseumnida)
Can makeFormal
만들 수 없어
(mandeul su eopseo)
Cannot makeInformal
만들 수 없어요
(mandeul su eopseoyo)
Cannot makeNeutral / Polite
만들 수 없습니다
(mandeul su eopseumnida)
Cannot makeFormal
만들어야 해
(mandeureoya hae)
Must makeInformal
만들어야 해요
(mandeureoya haeyo)
Must makeNeutral / Polite
만들어야 합니다
(mandeureoya hamnida)
Must makeFormal
만들고 싶어
(mandeulgo sipeo)
Want to make Informal
만들고 싶어요
(mandeulgo sipeoyo)
Want to make Neutral / Polite
만들고 싶습니다
(mandeulgo sipseumnida)
Want to make Formal
만들고 싶지 않아
(mandeulgo sipji ana)
Don't want to make Informal
만들고 싶지 않아요
(mandeulgo sipji anayo)
Don't want to make Neutral / Polite
만들지 않아
(mandeulji ana)
Not makeInformal
만들지 않아요
(mandeulji anayo)
Not make Neutral / Polite
만들지 않습니다
(mandeulji anseumnida)
Not make Formal
만들고 있어
(mandeulgo isseo)
Am/are/is making Informal
만들고 있어요
(mandeulgo isseoyo)
Am/are/is making Neutral / Polite
만들고 있습니다
(mandeulgo isseumnida)
Am/are/is making Formal
만들까
(mandeulkka)
Shall we make? Informal
만들까요
(mandeulkkayo)
Shall we make? Neutral / Polite
만들었더라
(mandeureotdeora)
Made itInformal Fact Declaration
만들었던데요
(mandeureotdeondeyo)
Made itNeutral / Polite Fact Declaration

하다 (hada) Conjugation

The verb 하다 (hada) generally means “to do” in English. It is usually attached to words to make them either action verbs or descriptive verbs. For example:

공부 (gongbu | study) + 하다 (hada | to do)= 공부하다  (gongbuhada | to study)

요리 (yori | cook)+ 하다 (hada | to do) = 요리하다 (yorihada | to cook)

Below are the conjugation examples of the verb 하다 (hada):

  • 하다 (hada) = standard form
  • 해요 (haeyo) = polite/formal ending verb for a noun that ends in a vowel or consonant, present
  • 했어요 (haesseoyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a vowel or consonant, past*
  • 했었어요 (haesseosseoyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a vowel or consonant, past perfect*

이다 (ida) Conjugation

The verb 이다 (ida) is the Korean equivalent of “to be” in English. It is usually used to identify people and objects. When using it to form sentences, it can be used with the following sentence structure:

Subject and particle + Noun입니다

Here are conjugation examples for the verb 이다 (ida) – to be.

  • 입니다 (imnida) = honorific verb, present tense
  • 입니까 (imnikka) = honorific question verb, present
  • 이에요 (ieyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a consonant, present
  • 예요 (yeyo) = polite/formal ending verb for that nouns ends in a vowel, present
  • 이었어요 (ieosseoyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a consonant, past*
  • 였어요 (yeosseoyo) = polite/formal ending verb for nouns ending in a vowel, past*
  • (ya) = casual/informal ending verb for nouns ending in a vowel, present
  • 이야 (iya) = casual/informal ending verb for nouns ending in a consonant, present

*Note: if you wish to use the past tense for 이다 (ida) on a casual level, use this form and simply drop the 요 (yo) from its tail

You may be thinking, “that’s quite a bit of vocabulary to remember!”

It gets easier with practice, and this grammar rule allows sentences to be more specific. Read these example sentences for 이다 (ida) to see:

I am Joana

How old are you?

I am a Vietnamese.

I am a singer.

He was a soldier.

He was a good friend.

I am a man.

I am a student

Let’s take a closer look at the verb, 있다 (itda) – to have. Here are its basic conjugations in Korean grammar:

  • 있습니다 (itseumnida) = honorific verb, present
  • 있습니까? (itseumnikka) = honorific verb, present
  • 있었습니다 (isseotseumnida) = honorific verb, past
  • 있어요 (isseoyo) = polite/formal verb, present*
  • 있었어요 (isseosseoyo) = polite/formal verb, past*

*Note: To create the casual/informal form, simply use these without the 요 (yo) at the end

You’ll notice that 있다 (itda) conjugate verbs much like 이다 (ida), with only slight changes in the letters because of the word itself.

있다 operates more like an adjective than a verb, changing how it works with particles. Hopefully, these examples will help illustrate that:

I have a question.

Do you have a question?

I had a girlfriend.

 I have a little brother.

I have a bag.

I had a boyfriend.

I had an appointment.

없다 (eopda) Conjugation

Next, 없다 (eopda) means “to not have.” It is the opposite of 있다(itda) which means “to have.” It is conjugated the same as 있다 (itda). Here are some grammar examples:

I don’t have a big sister.

I don’t have a car.

I didn’t have time.

I don’t have cash.

Success! You’ve finished learning how to conjugate Korean verbs and are now ready to start putting Korean conjugations to use in your Korean studies.

There are a lot of useful verb conjugations in here, so make sure you refer to this list often. Slowly, you will be able to master Korean verb conjugation. In addition to these verb conjugations, there are many more you’ll later get to learn. You can also learn about Korean particles and how they fit into Korean grammar in general.

What Korean verb conjugation do you think is most useful? Let us know in the comments below!

 

    25 replies to "Korean Conjugation – How to Use Verbs & Adjectives"

    • Avatar for Celia Celia

      What about the future tense in the to be section. Can you see if you can get the formal, informal, and casual

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Thank you for the suggestion. 이다’s future tense is 일 것이다 and in speech form they are 일 겁니다(formal), 일 거예요(standard), 일 거야(casual).

    • Avatar for Ana Ana

      Also in the Korean verb endings section, the lists of endings for present tense, past tense and future tense are incomplete (not specifying the informal, formal and polite endings), compared to the actual verb conjugation examples later on. I think it would help to have the same information in both sections to make it less confusing.

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for your suggestions, Ana! I’ll talk to the team about updating the article. ^^

    • Avatar for Ana Ana

      Typo: in the Korean verb endings section there is an unfinished second sentence (You ca)

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Thanks for your correction, Ana! We will correct it soon. ^^

    • Avatar for Livie Livie

      I am just starting to learning Korean and have a question on conjugation. I have a basic rules down on how to conjugate. You drop the 더 and depending on the last consonant or vowel you add the proper ending. But what does for example 가요 mean? Like is it I go? She goes? And depending on the subject or topic do I have to add a different ending?

      • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

        Hi, Livie! “가요” usually means “Let’s go” if no subject was attached. ^^

        • Avatar for Livie Livie

          Thank you for replying. How do I add a subject? Do you have a lesson on adding subjects to a verb or adjective?

          • Avatar for 7suku 7suku

            나는 (I+subject marking particle – informal) 가요

            So this would be I go.

            • Avatar for 90 Day Korean 90 Day Korean

              That’s correct. 나는 가요 means “I go.”

    • Avatar for Em Em

      annyeong, i would like to learn more in Korean Language and correct pronunciation of it. Any recommendation? Gamsahabnida!

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