Most dictionaries list Korean verbs under a form, known here as the Dictionary Form, which ends in 다. (Let us call the part before 다 the stem.)
Korean has several styles of speech, for example:
- Polite Form. Verbs end in 요.
- Intimate Form. The form is the same as for Polite, but knock off the 요. Used in the family or to people you know very well and are not older than you.
- Formal Style. Verbs end in 습니다 (ㅂ니다 if the stem ends in a vowel). Used in formal situations such as with people you don’t know, during interviews, on the news, in the army and to teachers or senior people.
These are frequently used forms; we will add others e.g. the Plain Form at a later stage.
Making the forms
You can make the Intimate Form by removing 다 and adding 어 (아 if the last vowel in the stem is ㅗ or ㅜ) if the stem doesn’t already end in 어 (or 아). Once you’ve got the Intimate Form, you can form the Polite Form just by adding 요.
You can make the Formal Style by removing 다 and adding 습니다 (ㅂ니다 if the stem ends in a vowel).
Example: in the dictionary you will find 먹다 “eat”. You can make 먹어 “eat (Intimate Form)”, 먹어요 “eat (Polite Form)” and 먹습니다 “eat (Formal Style)”.
In Korean verbs are so like adjectives, that it makes more sense to speak of Processive verbs and Descriptive verbs. We will stress the small number of differences as they come up.
Processive verb tables
It is recommended that you say these forms out loud, so that they trip off your tongue naturally:
ㅂ니다 after a vowel; 습니다 after a consonant.
|줍니다||give||Ueo becomes wo in the Polite Form.|
|읽다||읽어요||읽습니다||read||Only ㄱ is pronounced in the Dictionary and Formal.|
|가다||가요||갑니다||go||Aa becomes a in the Polite Form.|
|보내다||보내요||보냅니다||send||Aea becomes ae in the Polite Form.|
|오다||와요||옵니다||come||Oa becomes wa in the Polite Form.|
ㄹ drops out in the Formal Style.
|듣다||들어요||듣습니다||listen||ㄷ becomes ㄹ before 어 in some verbs (but not 받다 etc.)|
|마시다||마셔요||마십니다||drink||Ieo becomes yeo in the Polite Form.|
|쓰다||써요||씁니다||write; use||Eueo becomes eo in the Polite Form.|
|굽다||구워요||굽습니다||grill||ㅂ becomes w in the Polite Form in some verbs.|
|부르다||불러요||부릅니다||sing||르 usually becomes lleo (lla after o or u) in the Polite Form.|
|하얗다||하얘요||하얗습니다||white||얗 becomes 얘 in the Polite Form.|
Descriptive verb tables
|Dictionary Form||Polite Form||Formal Style||Meaning||Note|
|길다||길어요||깁니다||long||ㄹ disappears in the Formal Style.|
|크다||커요||큽니다||big||Eu is dropped in the Polite Form.|
|춥습니다||cold||In some verbs ㅂ becomes w in the Polite Form.|
|하다||해요||합니다||do||Has an irregular Polite Form.|