Use of Modifier 던 (deon)

The use of modifier in Korean verb is simply amazing.  You know how verbs in English can come in different forms too and in Korean modifiers are usually added to the base or infinitive  form of the verb to conjugate it.

The modifier 던 (deon) is something that i always hear when Koreans speak.  It’s a modifier that is attached to the basic form of the verb which will give the verb the meaning of having done doing so and so.   Yes it’s retrospective, so it gives the meaning of doing something in the past.

Based from what I read the modifier 던 when used with simple base have the same meaning with the pattern <verb>고 있었어요 (verb+go isseosseoyo).  I remember this pattern very well.  Like when you say 먹고 있었어요 (meokko isseosseoyo) it means ‘was eating’.   So the simple 먹던 (moekdeon) would mean the same thing.  Comparing the two, this is how it goes:

  • 그 학생이 여기서 자장면을 먹고 있었어요.  (Ku haksaengi yogiso jajangmyeoneul mokko isseosseoyo.) – That student was eating jajangmyeon noodles here.
  • 여기서 자장면을 먹던 학생.  (Yogiseo jajangmyeoneul meokdeon haksaeng) .  The student who eating jajangmyeon noodles or has been eating jajangmyeon noodles here.

So bottomline, these two patterns mean was VERBing.  As final note, you may hear this modifier sound like 든 (deun) for some Korean speakers, they also sometimes spell it that way.

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Expressing Ever or Never Done

I am not pausing on the powerful post modifier -(으)ㄴ.  I say it’s powerful because you can do complex sentences with it.  My post today is actually still related to this modifier.   There is another expression I learned that connotes has ever done or has never done.

The nouns 일 (il) and 적 (jeok) both mean event, act, experience.  When used in along with verb 있어요 (isseoyo) and  없어요 (opseoyo) would mean:

  • 일이 있어요 (iri isseoyo) – the event, experience or act exists
  • 적이 있어요 (jeoki isseoyo) – the event, experience or act exists
  • 일이 없어요 (iri opseoyo) – the event, experience or act don’t exists
  • 적이 없어요 (jeoki opseoyo) – the event, experience or act don’t exists

This phrase is compatible and in almost all cases used with exploratory pattern (verb) -어 본.  Previously, I made a post on using the verb 보다 with another verb to mean try to do something.  So the complete pattern would be verb+본 일이 있어요 or verb+본 적이 없어요. Of course 일 is interchangeable with 적.

태국에 가 본 일이 있어요?  (Taeguke ka bon iri isseoyo?) It literally means Does having gone to Thailand exists?  but it actually means ‘Have you ever been to Thailand? ‘

You can actually answer:

  • 네, 태국에 가 본 일이 있어요. (Ne, taeguke ka bun iri isseoyo) Yes, I have been to Thailand.
  • 태국에 가 본 적이 없어요 (Taeguke ka bun jeoki opseoyo) I have never been to Thailand.

When I was learning Korean during my first few weeks, i spent time to memorize Korean characters  (Hangul) and the first thing I did was to try write my name in Hangul.   Now I have a question:  이름을 한글로 써 본 일이 있어요?

The Fact of (Verbi)~ing

The use of modifier -는 (neun)  and 은 (eun) is definitely one of the hardest lessons that i have learned and still learning in the study of Korean Language.  I think until now I am only confident in using these as markers for topic.  I am currently reading the advance book for learning Korean which is Continuing Korean (sort of sequel to Elementary Korean) and the lessons are mostly on the use of these modifiers.

The modifier -는 (neun) is used for processive verbs, it turns a phrase into a topic something comparable to a noun phrase in English.  A processive verb with this modifier (verb+는)  followed by 것 (keot) would mean the fact of doing so-and-so or the fact that one does so-and-so.

Same pattern can be used for plain modifier processive or descriptive verb + 은/ㄴ(ㄴif base ends with vowel)  followed by 것.   This would mean the fact that one did (processive verb) or that is (descriptive verb) .

Here are some examples:

  • 자는 것 (chaneun keot) – the fact that someone is sleeping
  • 잔 것 (chan keot) – the fact that someone slept
  • 한국어 책을 읽는  (hangugeo chaekeul ikneun keot) – someone is reading Korean book
  • 비가 오는 것 (biga oneun keot) – the fact that its raining
  • 비가 온 것 ( biga on keot – the fact that it rained

In practical use, 것 is sometimes abbreviated to 거  (keo) and it still would mean the same.  Now, let me practice how to use this modifier into sentence:

  •  엄마가 자는  것을 몰랐어요.  (Ommaga chaneun keoseul mollaseoyo). I did not know that mother is sleeping.
  • 학생이 한국어 책 읽는 것을 봤어요. (Haksaengi hangugeo chaek ikneun koseul bwasseoyo).  I saw a student reading Korean book.
  • 비가 온  것이  싫어요. (Biga on koshi shiroyo) I hate that it rained.

Choayo 좋아요 vs Choahaeyo 좋아해요

The word 좋다 (choda) is something you always hear in a Korean conversation.  In fact, in this blog of mine the phrase I like you in Korean is one of the most visited posts i have.  좋다 is the base form of the word like.  it’s a verb which can mean is good, like or in some case  it is also used to express wish.

One of the variations in the use of this verb is the expression 좋아요 (choayo) and 좋아해요 (choahaeyo).  It both means the same the only difference is that for clarity of use in the sentence, the verb 좋아요 cannot take an object meaning to say you cannot pertain the use of this verb to something that is marked -을 (eul) or -를 (-reul) which are actually object markers in a Korean statement.  For clarity, 좋아요 is used with a subject marked with either -가 (-ga) or 이 (-i).   Here is an example–  비빔밥이 좋아요 (bibimbap choayo~ I like bibimbap).   The sentence 비빔밥 좋아해요 (Bibimbapeul choahaeyo) would mean the same but this time the object is marked and the verb became compound with the addition of 해 (from 하다 – hada which mean to do or happen).

So i learned for simple sentence you can drop the markers but for complex ones the role of the marker becomes very important to put across the right meaning of a sentence.  Hmmm… I am truly like the  Korean Language.  정말 한국어를 좋아해요!