Back to Modifiers

It’s been a long time since I have opened my Continuing Korean book.  The book has 500+ pages, I have started reading it last year and up to now I am still at page 84.  True to what the others have been saying, compared to Elementary Korean, Continuing Korean is a big challenge.  One of the most difficult lesson I have encountered is on the use of (으) ㄴ modifiers.

At a glance transforming verbs and adjectives into modifier form seems to be easy.  Here is how it is done.  은  is normally added to verbs or adjectives ending in consonant and ㄴ for those ending in vowel.  Some examples are as follows:

  • 앉은 (anjeun)  sit
  • 먹은 (mokeun) eat
  • 만난 (mannan) meet
  • 한 (han) do

Does look simple right? Well there is an exceptions on how you create the modifier form of verbs and adjectives.  This exception is on those L-extending vowel bases.  It’s really hard to explain this L-extending vowel bases but the way I understand it is that these are verbs that normally ends in ㄹ however in some uses, the ㄹ is dropped before attaching the modifier or marker.  So for verbs like 살 (sal) which means live it would be 산 (san)  and for 놀 (nol) which means play it would be 논 (non).  Now imagine these words being used in a not so simple sentence. I bet it would be difficult for learners like me to figure out when its a modifier and when its actually the word itself.  Like 산 do exists as a word which means mountain.

I guess being able to use modifiers in Korean would mean you have truly leveled up in the Language since modifiers like this will now allow you to create more complex sentences or compound sentences.  This topic needs serious a lot of study time.  Hmm the last two words might be a good start to do some exercise 공부한 시간 (gongbuhan shikan) is study time =)

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2 Replies to “Back to Modifiers”

  1. Yes, for a non-Korean trying to master all the particles it’s difficult to see whether a word is just a word in or a conjugated verb.
    But it is even more complex (I’ll list something from “Korean Grammar for International Learners”):
    1. Verb stem + (으)ㄴ is used for past perfect. Attached to an action verb it is used to express prior completion of an action [A]. Attached to a descriptive verb it expresses the current state or fact [B].
    Examples:
    [A] 어제 쓴 편지를 우체국에 가서 부쳤어요.
    I went to the post office and mailed the letter I wrote yesterday.
    [B} 그 분은 마은이 좋은 사람입니다.
    She is a person with a good heart.

    2. Verb stem +(는) is exclusively for action verbs and indicated that the action is continuous, ongoing or in progress.
    Example:
    저기 가는 분이 이 선생입니다.
    The person walking over there is Mr. Lee.

    3. Verb stem + (으)ㄹis used to express an action or state which has not yet been realized.
    Example:
    이번 주말에 여행 갈 계획을 세우고 있습니다.
    I’m putting together a plan to go on a trip this weekend.

    So ‘가다’ can actually appear as 간, 가는 and 갈 (besides a lot of other conjugational endings)!

    1. wow you must be studying Korean too. these are all part of lessons in my Continuing Korean, I am trying to review them again. i need to brush up on my Korean as I will be back there Dec this year. thanks for these additional info.

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