Verbs and its Dictionary Form

Learning 한글 is getting exciting day by day.  Some of the questions I have in mind when I was reading various websites explaining basics of the language are made clear by the ever reliable book Elementary Korean.

The chapter I am reading now deals with verbs.  Previous readings say this is the most important word in a Korean sentence.  It can sometimes stand on its own as a complete statement.  Reminds me of how we were thought that ‘Run!’ or ‘Sit!’ can be considered a statement in English during my primary learning years.

The first book I had in learning Korean is my thin dictionary which I think is more of a thesaurus (English-Korean and Korean-English).  I was too proud to think that I would be able to create a statement after learning how to decrypt their script.  Using my dictionary I read the characters in Hangul and corresponding English translation.  The only thing I know is that they have a different word order compared to English.  I just realized that it was foolish to assume I can be competent this way. 

I remember one of my language exchange partners saying that the word I used is not meant to be said that way when communicating in Korean.  There was no further explanation so I thought it was probably a wrong grammar until one of my Korean friends online told me to replace 다 (-da)  with 게.  Obviously this is not always the case. 

Chapter 7 of Elementary Korean deals with this.  Verbs in Korea have a dictionary entry or form.  This explains why most words I read ends with 다. This is because the base form of the word will have its dictionary form by simply adding -다.  This is a classic example:

가 (base form) + 다 = 가다 which means ‘go’.  When using this verb 다 should be removed.  So you can hear 가요 or 가세요 (honorrific due to addition of 세–se), these can already mean You can go now or Go now or Let’s go now.

The next form is pretty exciting too… the infinitive form.

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