Category Archives: Grammar

Some of my final preparations before going back to Korea in 14 days, I need to know more about honorifics. Too often I confuse simply using formal language with honorific language. This year I want to avoid this mistake as often as possible! :) I’ll split this blog in parts so it won’t be too long.

So what do I think about when we’re talking honorifics?

  • -(으)시
  • 께서 / 께서는
  • Honorific verbs such as 계시다 / 잡수시다
  • Honorific nouns such as 성함 / 댁

If you google “Korean honorific grammar”, this will likely be your first result. The honorific particle. Attach it to the root of your verb and it will become honorific, simple enough right? So, what is my problem with this? The combination of 반말 and this particle. It’s just so confusing!

An example from “Using Korean: A Guide to Contemporary Usage”. 김 선생님이셔? I read this and I think, am I asking Professor Kim if that’s him? Isn’t that inappropriate? Yep. BUT, what if you asked someone younger, or someone you know well if that person over there is Professor Kim. The honorific is for 김 선생님, the casual ending for the younger person you are asking.

It is used to properly address the subject of your sentences. Now that makes sense. The book states that -(으)시 is usually called for if you or the listener has a personal relation to the subject or if the subject is worthy of honorification. This is sometimes still a mystery to me. The book lists lots of examples and exceptions and I will read through those probably every day for the coming 2 weeks. 😛

께서 / 께서는
These particles are the honorific equivalents of 이/가 and 은/는. These are used after subjects that you are being honorific too. It’s important to look beyond the 이/가 and 은/는 particle though. It’s not a simple find and replace unfortunately. An example would be “남동생이 없어요”. While 남동생 is the subject, “I” will be the understood subject. “I don’t have a younger brother”. Using the honorific particles here would be incorrect.

Part 2 tomorrow (probably! :P)
Alright so, I need to let this sink in some more and I’m looking for some more material. This definitely seems like one of the most complicated grammar patterns so far for me but I really want to get it right before going to Korea! ^^

Not going to lie, this pattern hurts my brain. A pattern that corresponds to “only” or “nothing but”. Only followed by negative forms with the exception of 아니다.

So why do I think this is hard? Here’s an example:

저는 그것밖에 몰라요.
저는 그것 밖에 몰라요
I that thing nothing but don’t know

Very literally translated: “I don’t know nothing but that (thing)”. Sounds awkward, right? So the actual translation you would use is: “I know nothing other than that”, or even better, “That is all I know”. The very switch from don’t know (몰라요) to know (알아요) for me is extremely hard, especially when trying to speak.

Another example:

너밖에 그렇게 말하는 사람이 없다
밖에 그렇게 말하는 사람이 없다
you only so to speak, noun modifier person to not exist

You are the only one who says so.

Ahhh my brain! 😛

Yep, I’m still alive. Let’s continue… 😛

So last two iTalki lessons I got this pattern bashed into me… and it’s pretty great! I think it makes me sound so much smarter… ㅋㅋ Instead of asking, “Where is it?”, I can now say “Do you know where it is?”. Cool! :)

A/V – (으)ㄴ/는지
Right, so this pattern is a connective ending. It forms a bridge that corresponds with: who, what, where, when, how or whether. So far I’ve mostly used it with 알다 and 모르다, but according to Korean Grammar in Use it’s also used with 궁금하다, 질문하다, 조사하다, 알아보다, 생각나다, 말하다 and 가르치다.

Present tense Past tense
Action verb Descriptive verb Action verb & Descriptive verb
Verb stem + 는지 Verb stem + ㄴ/은지 Verb stem + 았/었는지


1 Aren’t you curious who my girlfriend is?
너는 제 여자친구가 누구인지 궁금하지 않아요?
2 Do you know where the bathroom is?
화장실이 어디에 있는지 아세요?
3 Please teach me how I can cook Bibimbap.
비빔밥을 어떻게 요리하는지 가르쳐 주세요

Another one from the sidebar, and the only one I’ll probably do before I delete the section. I mean really, 후에/전에 and N하고 are not very interesting.

A/V-네요 is pretty cool though. It’s used to express surprise when you’ve learned something new or realized something for the first time. Simply by adding 네요 to the stem of an adjective or verb.


1 Oh, it’s already 9 ‘o clock.
2 Oh, the weather is really nice today!
오늘 날씨가 정말 좋네요
3 Oh, my fingers hurt.
손가락들이 아프네요

Just 2 weeks ago I happily posted to my Facebook wall that 효린 was going to sing the OST for Disney’s Frozen (겨울왕국). Having seen the movie just last week I still have the original song in my head. Now that the release date for Korea is coming closer (January 16th) they released the Korean version of the OST and I just wanted to see how they compare to each other, lyrics wise. Yeah! Fun 😀

As with everything that’s a first I have to figure out the best way to do it. Formatting this is kind of a pain… I should also place a giant disclaimer, some of the translations are gross assumptions of mine. I try to be as accurate as possible though 😉

Korean line: 더 이상 참지 않아.
Original line: Can’t hold it back anymore.
Translated: Can’t hold it anymore.
Vocabulary Grammar
Korean English
  • Negation (-지 않다)
이상 A higher quantity of what it references.
더 이상 any more
참다 to suppress, to hold, to restrain oneself
Korean line: 나는 이제 떠날래.
Original line: Turn my back and slam the door.
Translated: I am going to leave now.
Vocabulary Grammar
Korean English
  • Topic marker (은/는)
  • V-(으)ㄹ래요
이제 now
떠나다 to leave, to depart
Korean line: 오늘밤 내린 하얀 눈은.
Original line: The snow glows white on the mountain tonight.
Translated: Tonight’s fallen pure white snow.
Vocabulary Grammar
Korean English
  • Past tense action verb -> noun (+ ㄴ/은)
  • Present tense descriptive verb -> noun (+ ㄴ/은)
  • Topic marker (은/는)
오늘 today
오늘밤 tonight
내리다 to fall, to come down (rain, snow)
하얗다 to be (pure/snow) white
Korean line: 온 세상을 뒤덮고.
Original line: Not a footprint to be seen.
Translated: It covers the entire world (and)
Vocabulary Grammar
Korean English
  • Connective Verb ending 고
  • Object marker (을/를)
all, whole, entire
세상 world
뒤덮다 to cover something with, to cover in something
Korean line: 이 외로움 한가운데.
Original line: A kingdom of isolation.
Translated: right in the middle of this loneliness
Vocabulary Grammar
Korean English
외로움 loneliness
한가운데 the (very) middle, center, the heart

Hopefully (most of) this is correct! I got stuck at: “나 홀로 남겨졌네”. The dictionary isn’t being very helpful on this, I keep getting 남기다 (which is probably correct), but I have no idea how I would conjugate it to become 남겨졌네. Will do some research :)

On the very right of this post I’ve had a “Upcoming posts” section for the longest time. I added it, and then ignored it? Now that doesn’t seem fair at all. First order of business: A/V-겠다

So far I’ve encountered two uses for this pattern but I think there is a few more, possibly if combined with other particles or patterns.

Use #1: Expressing the intention or will of the speaker.
This use roughly translates to “I will…”, “I am going to…” or “I plan to…”. This form is actually seen in some of the most commonly known idioms. See sentence 1 of the examples below!

Regular form Negated form
A/V + 겠다 A/V + (안 겠다) / (-지 않겠다)

An important thing to note for this use is that it can’t be used when the subject is in the third person.


1 I will eat well. / I will enjoy the food.
2 저는 내일부터 게임을 덜 하겠어요.
Starting tomorrow, I will play games less often.
3 오늘 밤에 한국 음식점에 갈 거예요. 그래서 요리하지 않겠어요.
I am going to a Korean restaurant tonight. So I will not cook today.

Use #2: Expressing a supposition or making a conjecture.
This use can for example be used to state assumptions or inferring things. It corresponds to “to look / seem like”, “to sound like” or “to appear like”. It can also be used in the past tense. As far as I can tell though, the past tense conjugation is not frequently used. (Google results counting, maybe it’s a colloquial thing.)

Present tense Past tense
A/V + 겠다 A/V + 았/었 + 겠다


1 That test seems really difficult.
그 시험이 아주 힘들겠어요.
2 The food on the restaurant menu looks good. Right?
외식메뉴에 음식이 맛있겠어요. 그렇죠?
3 She must have left.
그 여자는 떠났겠다.

So yes, I skipped a week in lesson reviews. One lesson I had to cancel because of unfortunate events and the other lesson I had a complete blank-out for the entire duration which was a really embarrassing experience. Either way, I’m back this week and I will be talking about V -(으)러 and A/V -(으)ㄴ/는데요.

V -(으)러
This grammar pattern is used to add a purpose for a movement (going or coming to a place). Therefore only movement verbs such as 가다, 오다 and 다니다 are used with this pattern.

Verb stem ending with vowel or ㄹ Verb stem ending with consonant
러 가다/오다/다니다 으러 가다/오다/다니다


1 I went to the hospital to see a doctor.
의사를 보 병원에 갔어요
2 I am going to the meeting to present my research.
제 리서치를 제출하 회의에 갈 거예요
3 I came home to look for my mobile phone.
제 휴대전화를 찾으러 집에 왔어요.

A/V -(으)ㄴ/는데요
Talking about this grammar pattern is a little more difficult because for as far as I know, this can mean a lot of different things. Today however I will use it as a connective form to indicate that there is more information following.

Present tense Past tense
Action verb Descriptive verb Action verb & Descriptive verb
Verb stem + 는데요 Verb stem + ㄴ/은데요 Verb stem + 았/었는데요


1 I met that friend when I was in Korea, we met at a restaurant.
한국에 있을 때 그 친구를 만났는데요, 식당에서 만났어요.
2 I play League of Legends, way too much.
리그오브레전드를 하는데요, 너무 많이 해요
3 I woke up early in the morning, I had to go to school.
아침에 일찍 일어났는데요, 학교에 가야 했어요.

I actually feel it’s better for me to do these reviews a day or two before my next lesson instead of on the same day right after the lesson. Therefore I will probably shuffle a few days around. Let’s get to the important stuff though, my last lesson.

문법 (Grammar)
Another lesson focused mostly on new grammar with daily conversations. “V는/은/ㄴ지” was our grammar point, which is a connective ending used when connecting a clause requiring additional information to the following verb. Corresponding to “who/what/where/when/how/whether + clause”.

It generally precedes one of the following verbs, (referenced from Korean Grammar In Use):

  • 알다
  • 모르다
  • 궁금하다
  • 질문하다
  • 조사하다
  • 알아보다
  • 생각나다
  • 말하다
  • 가르치다

The two verbs in bold are the only verbs we used in the lesson. Like my previous iTalki review I will include a table with the patterns for both present and past tense action and descriptive verbs.

Present tense Past tense
Action verb Descriptive verb Action verb Descriptive verb
Verb stem + 는지 Verb stem + 은/ㄴ지 Verb stem + 았/었는지

The main exercise was to create sentences asking whether the person knows something, rather than asking directly. For example asking if they know where the bookstore is rather than directly asking where it is.

Examples in steps:

Do you know where the bookstore is?
English Korean
to be where 어디이다
bookstore 책방이
Where is the bookstore? 책방이 어디예요?
(I) know where 어디인지 알아요.
Final Korean sentence
책방이 어디인지 알아요?
Do you know who emailed me?
English Korean
emailed 이메일을 했다
someone 누가
Somebody emailed me. 누가 이메일을 했어요.
Who emailed me? 누가 이메일을 했어요?
Final Korean sentence
누가 이메일을 했는지 아세요?
Don’t you know where my wallet is?
English Korean
my wallet 제 지갑이
where 어디에
to exist / to be located 있다.
Don’t you know? 몰라요? / 모르세요?
Don’t you know where it is? 어디에 있는지 모르세요?
Final Korean sentence
제 지갑이 어디에 있는지 모르세요?

It’s took me quite a while to get a good grasp of this and how to use it but hopefully I can start using this soon.

Having a weekend like mine, (a little crazy), just after releasing a schedule makes it a little embarrassing for me but I will still post what I put out to do. So here we go, the first iTalki Lesson Review.

문법 (Grammar)
The focus of my previous lesson and this lesson has been on verbs being converted into adjectives. Referred to in Korean Grammar in Use (Beginner) as: “관형형 -(으)ㄴ/-는/-(으)ㄹ N”

For now I will skip the future tense part because we did not cover that yet. Below is a table with the tenses and their action / descriptive verb patterns.

Present tense Past tense
Action verb Descriptive verb Action verb Descriptive verb
Verb stem + 는 Verb stem + 은/ㄴ Verb stem + 은/ㄴ

We’ve covered quite a few of the patterns up until an introduction to the past tense descriptive verb. From my current understanding there are multiple patterns that can be used to transform descriptive verbs into past tense adjectives. The one I got introduced to is -던.

So when researching this more I found out that this is already outside of the scope of beginner’s Korean grammar. I found more about this on Page 144 of Korean Grammar in Use (Intermediate) in the chapter “Expressing recollection”. It seems like -던 is not exclusively used to convert past tense descriptive verbs to adjectives but can be used in a large variety of other situations. For now it is probably best to exclusively use it for the only purpose I know though.

Examples of -던 (to make past tense descriptive verbs into adjectives)

Sentence Present tense adjective Past tense adjective
1 This flower is pretty A pretty flower A flower that used to be pretty
이 꽃은 예뻐요 예쁜 꽃 예쁘
2 A friend who was tired A tired friend A friend that used to be tired
친구가 피곤했어요 피곤한 친구 피곤하 친구
3 The weather was bad The bad weather The weather that used to be bad
날씨가 나빴어요 나쁜 날씨 나쁘 날씨

Lastly I might just as well add in the new vocabulary that came up in the lesson. I’m currently thinking of writing a small WordPress plugin that will contain all the vocabulary I know. It will probably be nicely listed including dates of when I learned it, how well I know it, etc. I have some (in my opionion) cool ideas for it.

어휘 (Vocabulary)

Korean English
후식 Dessert
새우 Shrimp
건조 Dryness
건조기 / 드라이어 Dryer
원피스 Dress (not gowns or party dress)
검은색 Black (color)
짧다 To be short
길다 To be long
계획 A plan
계획을 세우다 To make a plan

So when I talked about “starting over” with Korean some time ago I mostly meant making sure that all my basic knowledge is accurate and complete. This lesson was already some time ago, (as in more than a month ago), but still deserves a place here.

은/는 for contrast or comparison

So one of the uses of 은/는 has complete gone over my head on all the occasions I have learned it in the past. Not only can it be used to designate the main topic, issue or discussion point. It can also be used to compare or contrast two things.

I made some sample sentences and had them corrected on lang-8, (thank you hyoseok & felixhwang), just to be sure:

1. I can understand C++. However, I don’t understand Objective-C well.
저는 C++를 이해할 수 있습니다. 하지만 오브젝티브-C는 잘 모릅니다.

2. I like apples but I don’t like pears.
저는 사과를 좋아합니다. 하지만 배는 좋아하지 않습니다.

3. Noona has read the book “The yellow house” but has not read the book “Casino”.
누나는 “노란집” 이란 책은 읽었습니다. 하지만 “카시노”는 읽지 않았습니다.

4. Today I don’t have to work. However, tomorrow I do have to work.
오늘은 일을 안해도 되었습니다. 하지만 내일은 일을 해야 합니다.


Another use, which I feel is related enough, was blogged about by koreanstudentblog and that is -은/는요.

He/She (Sorry M, it’s a little vague!) explained that it’s possible to add -은/는요 to a person’s name to avoid actually repeating a question asked to you first. I would imagine that this works with titles too. 형은요 / 누나는요? (It stood the test of Google!)

The most easy example I could come up with would be the obvious: “Have you been good? Yes, how about you Younha?”

윤하씨: 잘 지냈어요?
조르디: 네 잘 지냈어요. 윤하씨는요?

Isn’t that wonderful? ^^