Uses of Clause Modifier (으)ㄴ

The simple modifier (으) ㄴ has two major functions in relation to the type of verb to which it is attached.   First, when attached to a descriptive verb or adjective and then placed before a noun, it becomes noun that is equal to adjective.  Here are some examples:

  • 큰 학교 (Keun Hakkyo) – Large school
  • 적은 눈물 (Cheokeun Nunmul) – Few tears
  • 좋은 사람 (CheounSaram) –  Good Man

The second use is that when it is attached to processive verb right before a noun it takes a past meaning.  Something like [someone] did or  has done as shown on samples below:

  • 앉은 사람  (Anjeun saram) – The person who sat or who has sat.  This is lifted from statement –> 사람이 앉었어요 (Sarami anjeosseoyo)
  • 걸은 여자 (Keoreun yoja) – The lady who walked –> 여자가 걸었어요 (Yojaga keoreoseoyo).

Since this form for processive verbs takes a past tense meaning, therefore, this modifier can neither be attached to past base nor future base.  As such you would hear or see 썼은 편지 (Sseosseun pyonji) written letter or 써겠은 편지 (Sseokesseun pyonji) letter that we/I will write.

Introduction to Modifiers

Just like English, the Korean language has its way of turning a sentence into  a clause that modifies a noun  or a noun phrase.  This is done by changing the final verb of the statement into the modifier form.  For to day, I am introduced to the (으)ㄴ  modifier.  Just like the subject and object particles the rules in adding this modifier are as follows:

  • Plain base of verb ending in vowel + ㄴ
  • Plain base of verb ending in consonant + 은

Below are some examples of verbs in modifier form:

앉은 Anjeun Sit
만난 Manan Meet
좋은 Choneun Be Good
기다린 Kidarin Wait
Gan Go

The following verb types are exceptions.  For L-extending verbs, the modifier is attached to the un-extended form as shown below:

산 (사-ㄹ) San Live
논 (노-ㄹ) Non Play
연 (여-ㄹ) Yeon Open

For w (우) type of verbs below are sample transitions:

도운 (도w-) Doun Help
구운 (구w-) Kuun Boil
더운 (더 w-) Deoun Hot