Korean Conjugation – How to Use Verbs & Adjectives

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

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 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. Korean conjugation isn’t limited to verbs. Other parts of speech such as adjectives can be conjugated.

Are Korean conjugation rules different for verbs and adjectives?

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 tense, present tense, and future tense), honorifics, and voices to name a few.

How do you conjugate verbs in Korean?

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 vowel after dropping the 다 verb endings from the verb stem.

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

What’s the common Korean verb conjugation?

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

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

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

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



If the final vowel after dropping 다 is either ㅏ or ㅗ, you’ll use 아요. But if the final vowel after dropping 다 is ㅓ, ㅣ, or ㅜ, you’ll use 어요. So for the 2 example verbs above, they’ll become




How important is it to learn Korean Conjugation?

When learning the Korean language particularly the Korean grammar, Korean 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 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

가르치다 (gareuchida)

to teach

These 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 Korean conjugation, 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

만나다 + -아/어 → 만나요

닫다 + -아/어 → 닫아요

가르치다 + -아/어 → 가르쳐요

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

How do I combine the verb stem and a 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 connected to stems ending 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.



Common Korean conjugations

In this part of the lesson, we’ll be showing the different conjugations for 2 of the commonly used Korean verb 보다 and 만들다.

보다 and 만들다 are the dictionary form of the verbs “to watch or to see” and “to make”. They both are made up of a verb stem and a 다 ending.

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

Conjugating 보다 (boda) “to watch/see”

Below is a table with the different conjugations for the verb 보다 (boda) following the different tenses (Past Tense, Present Tense, and Future) and tones.

Korean Romanization English Tone
bwa I see Informal
봐요 bwayo I see (Present Tense) Polite/Neutral
봅니다 bomnida I see Formal
봤어 bwasseo I saw Informal
봤어요 bwasseoyo I saw (Past Tense) Polite/Neutral
봤습니다 bwasseumnida I saw Formal
볼 거야 bol geoya Will see Informal
볼 거예요 bol goyeyo Will see (Future Tense) Polite/Neutral
볼 겁니다 bol geomnnida Will see Formal

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 Romanization English Tone
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 see Informal
볼 수 있어요 bol su isseoyo Can see Neutral/Polite
볼 수 있습니다 bol su isseumnida Can see Formal
볼 수 없어 bol su eopseo Cannot see Informal
볼 수 없어요 bol su eopseoyo Cannot see Neutral/Polite
볼 수 없습니다 bol su eopseumnida Cannot see Formal
봐야 해 bwaya hae Must see Informal
봐야 해요 bwaya haeyo Must see Neutral/Polite
봐야 합니다 bwaya hamnida Must see formal
보고 싶어 bogo sipeo Want to see Informal
보고 싶어요 bogo sipeoyo Want to see Neutral/Polite
보고 싶습니다 bogo sipseumnida Want to see Formal
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 see Neutral/Polite
보지 않습니다 boji anseumnida Not see Formal
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 it Informal Fact Declaration
봤던데요 bwatdeondeyo Saw it Neutral/Polite Fact Declaration

Conjugating 만들다 (mandeulda) “to make”

Below is a table with the different conjugations for the verb 만들다 (mandeulda) following the different tenses (Past Tense, Present Tense, and Future) and tones.

Korean Romanization English Tone
만들어 mandeureo I make Informal
만들어요 mandeureoyo I make (Present Tense) Polite/Neutral
만듭니다 mandeumnida I make Formal
만들었어 mandeureosseo I made Informal
만들었어요 mandeureosseoyo I made (Past Tense) Polite/Neutral
만들었습니다 mandeureosseumnida I made Formal
만들 거야 mandeul geoya Will make Informal
만들 거예요 mandeul goyeyo Will make (Future Tense) Polite/Neutral
만들 겁니다 mandeul geomnnida Will make Formal

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.

Korean Romanization English Tone
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 make Informal
만들 수 있어요 mandeul su isseoyo Can make Neutral/Polite
만들 수 있습니다 mandeul su isseumnida Can make Formal
만들 수 없어 mandeul su eopseo Cannot make Informal
만들 수 없어요 mandeul su eopseoyo Cannot make Neutral/Polite
만들 수 없습니다 mandeul su eopseumnida Cannot make Formal
만들어야 해 mandeureoya hae Must make Informal
만들어야 해요 mandeureoya haeyo Must make Neutral/Polite
만들어야 합니다 mandeureoya hamnida Must make Formal
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 make Informal
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 it Informal Fact Declaration
만들었던데요 mandeureotdeondeyo Made it Neutral/Polite Fact Declaration

Success! You are now ready to start putting Korean conjugations to use in your Korean studies.

There are a lot of useful conjugations in here, so make sure you refer to this list often. In addition to these 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 conjugation do you think is most useful? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Korean Conjugation – How to Use Verbs & Adjectives appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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