Word Types & Dictionary Form

When you use a translator, native Koreans find it out really fast no matter what sentence you translate. How is that possible? How can they know? Does the Korean language have some secrets we don’t know?




Dictionary Form in Korean Language

When you look up some Korean words or when you use a translator, you can easily find the words or the sentences end with 다. That form is called ‘dictionary form’ which is the most basic form of every word in the Korean language.


These dictionary forms are not quite natural to use directly. So, you must conjugate it with colloquial endings (or speech style)


Korean Language Course 06. Word Types 1 img


Some students don’t know dictionary forms are weird to hear in conversations, so they use it directly. It only makes the speech really unnatural.




Word Anatomy in Korean Language

Then why is it important to know about dictionary forms? 1st, to avoid using dictionary forms directly. And 2nd, those dictionary forms are the basis for every conjugation.


Course 06. Word Types 2 img


This is how native Koreans understand Korean language for real and this is how every single Korean word works. Without understanding it, the Korean language is just a bunch of meaningless words.




Type of Korean Words

The Korean language has 3 different word types. 하다 words, pure Korean words and 이다 words. Technically pure Korean words belong to 하다 words but we will learn separately.


All words are dictionary forms. So you can’t use them directly yet. But understanding dictionary forms and word roots (stem) are most important to begin learning the Korean language because you have to change every word based on them.




하다 Words in Korean Language

하다 means ‘to do’ and ‘to be + adjective’ (하다 has a meaning to ‘do’ itself also). It always ends with 하다 and that’s why we call it 하다 words.


Korean Language Course 06. Word Types 3 img


It always changes a noun into a verb. (not for adjectives, though) So, when you memorize 하다 verbs, you can memorize nouns at the same time. For example, 공부 in 공부하다 is a noun for studying.




하다 Verbs

So many tutorials call it 하다 verbs, not 하다 words. Because 하다 means ‘to do’ itself. However, Korean language uses 하다 for adjectives too. So, it’s correct to call it 하다 word type.


It makes so many students make a mistake especially when they use adjectives. Now, you know 하다 also can be ‘to be + adjective’. Don’t make a mistake.




이다 Words in Korean Language

이다 words has the same functions with 하다 words. It means ‘to do + something’ and ‘to be + adjective’. But it has two more functions than 하다 words which is ‘to be + noun’ like I’m a chu chu train’ and ‘to be + place’ like ‘I’m home’


Course 06. Word Types 4 img


Usually 이다 verbs and adjectives are used with 거리다 instead of 이다. It doesn’t change the meaning. 이다 is also often used to make causative verbs and passive verbs. (not adjectives)


many students misunderstood 이다 as ‘be’. So, they try to say ‘예쁜(pretty)이다(be)’. But, you have to remember 하다 also means ‘to be’, not only ‘to do’.




Pure Korean Words in Korean Language

The last one is the pure Korean words. They don’t use 하다 nor 이다 either. Some of them are irregular words so you have to spend most of your time memorizing them. Since it’s pure Korean, the word roots are also pure Korean words.


Korean Language Course 06. Word Types 5 img


However, they are all dictionary forms so we can’t use them right away. Let’s see how we can change them into 해요 style.




하다 Words to 해요

To change 하다 words to 해요, you literally need to replace 하다 into 해요. That’s it. It’s a bit embarrassing to call it tutorial because the title explained everything lol


Course 06. Word Types 5 img


It was too simple. but the next steps will be a little bit more difficult.




이다 verbs to 해요 style

이다 words change to ‘이에요 (when a word ends with a consonant)’ or ‘예요. However, only when it’s used as a verb, it changes to ‘여요’.


Korean Language Course 06. Word Types 7 img


The important thing is 이다 verbs use a different conjugation. Usually, in this level, textbooks or classes don’t teach you 이다 also can be verbs and adjectives. So, they often make a mistake that they use 이에요 instead of 여요 when they use 이다 verbs




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.


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.


Course 06. Word Types 8 img


Another thing you should remember is that 2 syllable blocks shrink down into 1 syllable block if it doesn’t have a batchim.


보다 -> 보아요 -> 봐요
가다 -> 가아요 -> 가요
오다 -> 오아요 -> 와요





But still a bit confusing how to use adjectives in the Korean language because it’s very different between English and the Korean language. And there are many more things you have to understand about Korean adjectives. I’m so proud of you for studying hard. So, why don’t you jump into one last more tutorial. And if you liked this tutorial, join us in Patreon!



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