Present Tense

If you think about the English present tense, it’s odd sometimes because it really doesn’t mean something is happening right now. For example, ‘I study Korean’ doesn’t mean that you are studying Korean right now. So, technically it’s not the present. (and… second thought, you are studying Korean right now with me, so maybe it’s not the best example 😂) Anyway, in the Korean language, you can use the present tense for the present. Finally logic comes to sense.




Present Tense in Korean Language

The basic functions of the Korean present tense is the same as the English present tense. You can use it to describe general truth, repeated actions, habits, emotions and current state. However, the Korean language can describe more than English with  the present tense but today, we will focus on the basic uses.


Korean Language Course 16. Present Tense 1 img


But there is one big difference you have to remember. The Korean language uses conjugation even for the present tense. In fact, all tenses in the Korean language use conjugation. You can’t use the dictionary form or basic form right away. And, if I tell you about some secret, Translator usually uses the basic form, so we can tell if you use a translator or not.




with 하다 Words in Korean Language

It’s really easy to conjugate 하다 words to the present tense. You just need to remove ‘하다’ from the basic form, and add ‘해요’.


Course 16. Present Tense 2


하다 verbs use a noun as a root. For example, 말하다 is a combination of 말 + 하다. 말 means ‘speech’, ‘word’, ‘language’. 하다 means ‘do’. So, all together, 말하다 means ‘do speech’, more naturally ‘speak’, ‘say’, ‘tell’




The Present in Korean Language

You are studying the Korean language right now but you can’t say ‘I study Korean right now’ in English because the English present tense doesn’t describe the ongoing action. However, In Korean language, it’s much simpler. The present tense can describe the ongoing action in the present. Ahhh Satisfying.


저는 한국어 공부해요
= I study Korean
= I’m studying Korean


So, if you say ‘저는 한국어 공부해요’ can mean ‘I study Korean’ and I’m studying Korean’ both. The Korean present tense is more present-ish than the English present tense




With 이다 Words in Korean Language

이다 verb also has a variation but it’s not based on the word stem. It’s decided by the presence of 받침. 이다 becomes ‘이에요’ or ‘예요’ with 해요 speech style. 이다 adjective is similar to English adjective more than 하다 adjective.


Korean Language Course 16. Present Tense 3 img


이에요 sounds like 예요 if you say it fast. It makes speech flow softly. When you pronounce 이에요, put an accent on 이.




With Pure Korean Words

Pure Korean words are the most difficult to learn. Before the ending, if the vowel ends with ㅏ(a) or ㅗ(o), then it conjugated with 아요, other vowels conjugated with 어요.


Course 16. Present Tense 4 img


if it has ㄷ 받침, it changes to ㄹ (eg. 걷다 -> 걸어요, not always), if it has ㅂ 받침, ㅂ is dropped and then it conjugated with 워요.




How can you know what’s progressive or not?

The Korean language prefers using adverbs to describe repeated actions, habits. Koreans often skip an adverb like you do in English. You should read the context in this case.


저는 아침 먹어요
I’m having breakfast


저는 매일 아침 먹어요
I have breakfast everyday





Then what about other tenses in the Korean language? Can we apply the same rules to them? Before you get the answer, let’s learn one more super important thing. Let’s jump into the next tutorial to see what it is. And also, if you liked the tutorial, join us in Patreon, I’ll be waiting for you there!



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