LEVEL 1• LESSON 16- Present Tense

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In this lesson, we are going to learn how to conjugate Korean verbs. When you look up verbs in a Korean dictionary, they are in this form:

가다 [ga-da] = to go
먹다 [meok-da] = to eat
자다 [ja-da] = to sleep
때리다 [ttae-ri-da] = to hit
웃다 [ut-da] = to laugh

And when you change the forms of these verbs to express the present tense, the future tense, the past tense, and etc., the first thing you need to do is to drop the last letter, 다 [da], and then you have the verb stem.

Verb stems of the verbs above:
가 [ga]
먹 [meok] 자 [ja]
때리 [ttae-ri] 웃 [ut]

And to these, you add the appropriate verb endings to make them complete. And in this lesson we are going to learn how to change these dictionary forms of the verbs into the present tense.

The Present Tense

In order to conjugate a verb into the present tense, you take the verb stem, and add one of these endings:
아요 [a-yo]
어요 [eo-yo]
여요 [yeo-yo]

** Note that we are introducing the endings in the polite language. Do not worry about learning to use different politeness levels. Once you have learned how to say everything in polite language, changing it to other politeness levels is very easy to do.

So, which one of these three endings goes after which verb stem? It's quite simple.

If the verb stem's last vowel is ᅡ[a] or ᅩ [o], it is followed by 아요 [a-yo]. If the last vowel is NOT ᅡ[a] or ᅩ [o], it is followed by 어요 [eo-yo].

And only one verb stem, which is 하 [ha], is followed by 여요 [yeo-yo].

Let's look at some examples.
1) 가다 [ga-da] = to go

The verb stem is 가 [ga] and its last vowel is ᅡ [a] so you add 아요 [a-yo].

So it first becomes 가 + 아요, and then more naturally, it becomes 가요 [ga-yo] for ease of pronunciation.

가다 [ga-da] = to go (dictionary form)
--> 가요 [ga-yo] = I go. You go. He goes. She goes. They go. (present tense)

2) 먹다 [meok-da] = to eat

The verb stem is 먹[meok] and its level vowel is ᅥ[eo] so it is NOT ᅡ or ᅩ, so you add 어 요 [eo-yo].

So it becomes, 먹 + 어요 [meo-geo-yo]

먹다 [meok-da] = to eat (dictionary form)

먹어요 [meo-geo-yo] = I eat. You eat., and etc. (present tense)
** Note that there is a liaison in the pronunciation at 먹 + 어 [meok + eo] which sounds like 머거 [meo-geo].

3) 보다 [bo-da] = to see, to watch, to look Verb stem? 보 [bo]

What is it followed by? 아요 [a-yo]
보 + 아요 ---> Over time, it started being pronounced and written as 봐요 [bwa-yo]. (Say 보 + 아 + 요 three times as fast.)

보다 [bo-da] = to see, to watch, to look
봐요 [bwa-yo] = I see. I look. I watch. You look. and etc. (present tense)

4) 보이다 [bo-i-da] = to be seen, to be visible
Verb stem? 보이 [bo-i]
What is it followed by? 어요 [eo-yo]
보이 + 어요 ---> 보여요 [bo-yeo-yo] 보이다 [bo-i-da] = to be seen, to be visible
보여요 [bo-yeo-yo] = It's visible. I see it.

5)하다 [ha-da] = to do Verb stem? 하 [ha]
What is it followed by? 여요 [yeo-yo]
하 + 여요 ---> 하여요 [ha-yeo-yo]
Over time, 하여요 became 해요 [hae-yo].

** Here, please just remember that this verb, 하다 is very versatile. You can add a noun in front of it and you can form new verbs. We will introduce how to do this in lesson number 23. But for now, just remember that 하다 becomes 해요 in the present tense and it means "I do." "You do." "He does." or "They do."

Are there any irregularities or exceptions?

Sadly, yes, there are. But don't worry. Even those exceptions are NOT too far away from the regular rules!! And of course, we will introduce them in the nicest and easiest way possible through our future lessons.


A/N:This is just a compilation. I don't own this book. Credits to them!

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