10. Verb Conjugation 있다 (idda)

In this lesson, You will learn 있다 verb conjugation.To understand this lesson better, I recommend you to read Korean conjugation lesson first.


있다 Verb Conjugation

Korean grammar separates the functions of English ‘be’ into 2 pieces, 이다 and 있다. 있다 is considered as a variation of 이다 sometimes but we are going to learn it as an independent vocabulary because it has its own conjugation rules and functions.

-있다 (Location / Time)

있다 is used to describe the location and schedule or time. So, it seems to have parts of functions of English ‘be’ but what it really mean is ‘there is


Other verb conjugations always have several forms based on sometimes root, sometimes 받침. 있다 has only one variation. What a lovely word.


Basic Form (하다 style)

해요 colloquial style


있 + 어요
= 있어요 (‘it-seoyo)

Be (location / time)
Have (possession)
Be (location / time)
Have (possession)


우리는 한국에 있다 (하다 speech style)
우리는 한국  있어요 (해요 speech style)
There are us in Korea
= We are in Korea
= Location


준은 카페에 있다 (하다 speech style)
준은 카페  있어요 (해요 speech style)
There is Jun in cafe
= Jun is in a cafe
= Location


세시에 수업이 있다 (하다 speech style)
세시 수업이 있어요 (해요 speech style)
There is class at 3 o’clock
= The class is at 3 o’clock / I have a class at 3 o’clock
= Schedule


우리는 지금 15세기에 있다 (하다 speech style)
우리는 지금 15세기 있어요 (해요 speech style)
There are us now in 15th century
= Now we are in the 15th century
= Time / Also location in time


Technically 있다 means ‘exist’ or ‘be here’. Often Korean textbooks and teachers teach 있다 is a locative / possessive verb. In fact, It also can be used with time and schedule.

있다 With Postpositions

Korean verb conjugation 있다 is always used with a temporal conjugation or a locative conjugation to mean ‘there is’. It has a different meaning without a postposition.

있다 (Possession)

있다 also means possession without a temporal postposition or locative postposition. When 있다 verb conjugation is used as possessive, it uses subject markers 이/가 for an object. It doesn’t sound like making any sense, a subject marker for an object? And what link can there be between ‘there is’ and ‘have’? Before I explain everything. Let’s take a look how 있다 works and examples.


Basic Form (하다 style)

해요 colloquial style


있 + 어요
= 있어요 (‘it-seoyo)

Be (location / time)
Have (possession)
Be (location / time)
Have (possession)


나는 방구 폭탄이 있다 (하다 speech style)
나는 방구 폭탄이 있어요 (해요 speech style)
There is fart bomb on me
= I have a fart bomb


준은 여자친구가 있다 (하다 speech style)
준은 여자친구가 있어요 (해요 speech style)
For Jun, there is girlfriend
= Jun has a girlfriend


모든 아시아인은 집에 용이 있다 (하다 speech style)
모든 아시아인은 집에 용이 있어요 (해요 speech style)
For every Asians, there is dragon in home
= Every Asians have a dragon in their home

The Hidden Secret of 있다

있다 verb conjugation also has a meaning of possession such as ‘have’. But possessive verb 있다 still means ‘there is’ at same time.


It makes really weird translations. Because the sentence is ‘there is something’ but also can be ‘I have something’ at same time. (This is why you can still use subject markers)


What 있다 possessive verb really means is ‘there is something on someone’, not ‘someone has something’.


Ancient Hidden Secret Alert : This is what ordinary textbooks and teachers don’t teach you. Need to read it very carefully.


컴퓨터 있다
There is a computer
A computer is there
= Computer is the subject in this sentence


나는 컴퓨터가 있다 (하다 speech style)
나는 컴퓨터가 있어요 (해요 speech style)
For me, There is computer
A computer is on me (my possession)
= I have a computer
= Computer is the subject in this sentence


여자친구 있다
There is girlfriend
= Girlfriend is the subject in this sentence


준은 여자친구가 있다 (하다 speech style)
준은 여자친구가 있어요 (해요 speech style)
For Jun, there is girlfriend
= Jun has a girlfriend
= Girlfriend is the subject in this sentence

With Markers

Using 있다 possessive with 은/는 markers sounds very natural. However, it’s very tricky with subject marker 이/가. You will master it in later Courses but for now, it’s enough to know 은/는 is natural for almost things.



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