Infinitive Form: The Review

This is sort of a continuation of my post yesterday.  If you can determine the base form of the verb from the dictionary entry then its just proper to learn how to get the infinitive form.  I was talking once with a language exchange partner who is studying Korean but is a native Spanish speaker.  He mentioned that he can easily understand the idea of infinitive in verb as this seems to be the case in Spanish.   From Wikipedia it says in studying Spanish and Portuguese,  infinitives end in -ar, -er, or -ir.  In the case of Korean language, verb in infinitive form can end in eitherㅓ (eo) orㅏ (a).

Learning the infinitive form of the verb in Korean language is important since this form of the verb is where it can already be used in a conversation.   But one must realize that the infinitive form of the verb when used in a sentence without the appropriate style may appear disrespectful when talking to a native Korean.  This is because Korean is spoken in either formal or casual-polite style, verbs normally use a marker to achieve this.  Again this subject may require another post to fully understand.  The style to be used has to be considered with reference to degree of relationship to the person you are talking to.  Likewise there is a concept of honorifics in Korean language.  Aside from the style, verb in honorific form is used if you are talking to someone older or of higher position than you are.  So the infinitive form when used in a conversation without considering the formal or casual-polite style means your relationship to the person is intimate (closer).  This style of speaking is referred to as 반말 (banmal meaning speaking intimately).

There are some rules to follow in deriving the infinitive form and this starts by identifying the base form of the verb.  For vowel ending base verbs these are the things to know:

  • If the base ends with the vowel ㅏ (a), ㅓ(eo) or ㅐ(ae) the infinitive form is equal to the base form.  As such the base form of verb 가 (ka means go),  매 (mae means tie) and 서 (seo means stand) is also it’s infinitive form.
  • For verbs with base form ending inㅣ (i), the infinitive form is made by adding ㅓbut is abbreviated to ㅕ(yeo) so its like ㅣ+ㅓ=ㅕ.  Here are some of the samples under this case, 가르치 (karuchi base form of verb to learn) will become 가르쳐 (karucho) in infinitive form.  Same goes with verb 마시 (mashi – drink) which becomes 마셔 ( masyeo).
  • In the case of base verbs ending in ㅜ (u or oo in some romanization),  the infinitive form is derived by adding ㅓ and abbreviated to ㅝ  (ㅜplusㅓ) .  Here is an example of its application, 주 (ju which means give) becomes 줘 (jwo or jueo). Please note though that verbs ending in ㅝ requires 어 to be added to the base form of the word to get the infinitive form.  This is because there is no abbreviation for ㅝ combined with ㅓ. One sample of this is the word 숴 (sui which means to rest), the infinitive form of this verb is 쉬어 (sui-eo or swi-eo).
  • Applying the same principle for verbs with base ending in ㅗ (o) , ㅏ is added to derived the infinitive form and then abbreviated to ㅘ.  Therefore,  the verb 오 (o) which means to come will become 와 (wa or oa).  Same thing goes for the word 보 (bo which means to see or look), it becomes 봐 (bwa) in the infinitive form.  Just a note that 봐  being one of the mostly used verb can be heard as just 바 (ba) when spoken in Korean.
  • Lastly, for base verbs ending in ㅡ (eu or  short u sound), there is a slight difference in determining the infinitive form.  The ㅡ is dropped and replace by ㅓ. A good example would be the word 쓰 (sseu which means to write), this becomes 써 (seo) in infinitive form.   However when you drop the ㅡ and the ending is a consonant the preceding vowel will be the basis of what will be added to the base to derive the infinitive form.  This means that if the preceding vowel is ㅜ or ㅏ, ㅏ has to be added otherwise its ㅓ.  A example of this case is the word  바쁘  (pappeu which means be busy), it becomes 바빠 (pappa) in infinitive form.

The last rule is something applicable for vowel ending base verbs.  The preceding vowel is indicative whether ㅓorㅏ will be added to form the infinitive.  All consonant ending base verbs ends with  어 (eo) the only exception is if the preceding vowel is 오 or 아 the ending would be 아 instead of 어.  Here are some of the examples the order of the word is dictionary form followed by base form and then the infinitive form:

  • 앉다 –> 앉  –> 앉아 (anja) means sit
  • 읽다 –> 읽 –> 읽어 (ilko pronounced as iko) means read
  • 좋다–>  좋 –> 좋아 (choa or chowa) means like
  • 물다 –> 물 –> 물어  (muleo) means ask

Of course as to any rules there are exceptions.  I may have to make another post for the exceptions but the highlight  is, since verbs in infinitive form can be used in conversation you may hear these verbs as if its a complete sentence when Koreans are engaged  in a conversation.  As simple as 좋아 (choa) would mean something is liked or good  or when you hear 앉아 (anja) it means someone is telling you to take your seat.   This goes the same for a very common verb 괜찮아 (kwaenchna) or expression in Korean.  This means i am okay, it’s okay or are you okay if used with rising tone at the end.

Verbs Base Form: The Review

I decided to review on this basic component of the Korean Language, verb that is.  I get a lot of questions on how to use the dictionary or  how to use the words in the dictionary to make a sentence.   This isn’t an expert’s advise, I will just attempt to explain on lay man’s term some basics on understanding verbs in Korean.

In most of the books I read, the importance of the verb is always highlighted because in some cases subject or object may be removed and the verb can stand on its own just like the way ‘Run!’ or ‘Sit!’ can be considered a sentence because it expresses a complete thought.

I made a page on English-Korean Dictionary or 사전 (sajon).  Having one, is just one step towards pursuing self study but the Korean dictionary is not your typical English dictionary.  The tricky part is, verbs are normally written in dictionary form.  My language exchange partner before has warned me on using words from the dictionary. This is because the dictionary form of the verb cannot be used as  is in a sentence.  Verbs as listed in 사전 follows base+ ending 다 (da).  This is true for all verbs .  Here are some examples:

  • 읽다 (ikda- to read)
  • 먹다 (mokda – to eat)
  • 자다 (jada- to sleep)
  • 공부하다 (kongbuhada- to study)

These words as mentioned cannot be used as is in a sentence.  You have to extract the base (or root)  from the dictionary form to make use of the verb and that is by removing the ending 다.   I am not sure if it’s right to say this or if it’s the scholarly way to explain it, the manner by which you use base form of the Korean verb maybe similar to the principles of conjugation of verbs.  Korean verbs are conjugated from its base form.  If I may go back to my English 101 conjugation is when you use root word of a verb to derive its other uses.   From the examples above, one can extract the base form as follows –>  읽, 먹, 자 and 공부하.

The base form is where you create verbs in present, past and future tenses.  The present tense is almost always equivalent to what the book says as Infinitive form.  So in other words, verbs in Korean can be used written or spoken at least on the Infinitive form.   Deriving the he infinitive form of the verb involves some rules.  One thing is for sure, the infinitive form of  verbs in Korean can only have two endings,  that is ㅏ (a) or ㅓ (eo).  I may have to make another post to explain the Infinitive form.

With this post, one may be disheartened in pursuing self study because having a dictionary and being able to read Hangul characters are just the very beginning.  As the preface of the book Elementary Korean says,  understanding the verb is the heartbreak hill in learning Korean.  If you are not able to understand the dictionary, base and infinitive forms of the verb then you will not survive learning the language.  If this is how you feel while doing self study (and by self study I mean reading Korean Language text book)  i suggest you try learning the language in a different way maybe by memorizing phrases or using phrase books instead.   I hope to encourage patience in learning the language in a structured manner rather than discourage anyone with this post.  화이팅!

Expressing Obligation with -야 해요

This new particle  I learned simulates the way English statements stress the need to do something from just doing it.  I will clean the room tomorrow is a  bit lax compared to saying I must clean the room tomorrow.  The latter sends out something like a higher level of   urgency or an obligation.    This ‘must’ or ‘need to’ message  I learned is expressed by using the particle -야 (-ya) then ending the statement with verb 해요 (haeyo).  The particle is attached to a verb’s infinitive form both for plain and honorific verbs.

  • 학교에 가야 해요 (Hakyoe kaya haeyo) – I need to go to school.
  • 내일 공부해야 해요 (Naeil gongbuhaeya haeyo) – I must study tomorrow.
  • 언니 이 책을 읽어야 해요 (Eonnie i chaekeul ilkoya haeyo) – My (older) sister needs to read this book.

야 attached to the verb gives it the ‘only if you <verb>” meaning and the 해요 as verb ending means ‘will do it’.  As such the combination of this particle and verb ending  therefore results to meaning  you have to <verb>.

나는  한국어 책을 읽어야 해요 =)

Infinitive + 도

Happy Valentines! I know Koreans have White and Black day instead. I was not able to read yesterday and was too tired to get on-line after, so I only got the chance to read once again today.

Infinitive form of the verb followed by the particle 도 (do) means ‘even though such and such happens’. I met this particle back when I was reading Elementary Korean. It’s particle attached nouns to mean too. This time its attached to a verb and produces contrast in two phrases.

Here are some sample of its use when attached to verb in infinitive form:

  • 내가 너무 일로 바뻐도, 가만히 나의 한국어 책을 읽어요 (Naega nomo ilro pappodo, naoui kamanhi hangugeo chaekeul ilkoyo). Eventhoug I am busy with work, I still read my Korean books.
  • 가방이 비싸 있어도, 그것은 살 거에요 (Kabangi bissa isseodo, kukoseun sal koeyo). Even if the bag is expensive, I will probably buy it.

In using this particle with the first phrase of the sentence, there is no need to worry about the tense of the verb.  The final verb of the sentence will handle it.

Compound Verbs

So there is something called compound verbs in the Korean Language.  I am guessing that there is such as I have encountered some verbs which seems to be a formation of 2 stand alone verbs.  The versatile 하 (ha) verb which carries a meaning of does it or  thinks turns some descriptive verb into a processive one,  similar to what I have posted yesterday.

When 하 or 해요 is added to verbs like 좋아 (choa)  and 고마워 (komawo) these becomes a compound verb expressions which means  likes and grateful for respectively.  The infinitive verb + the verb 해 equals to a compound verb.

The 하 in this way becomes as auxiliary verb which completes the expression whether to make it negative or positive.  It is also in the auxiliary verb that the honorific marker is attached. Tenses likewise happens in the auxiliary verb.  Here are some examples:

  • 부러워해요 (bureowohaeyo) to be envious
  • 부러워 안 해요 (bureowo anhaeyo) is not envious
  • 부러워했어요  (bureowohaesseoyo) envied

Same can be applied to verb 행복요 (haengbokhaeyo) which means to be happy.  Manipulation happens in the auxiliary verb 해요.

Verbs in Infinitive and Particle 서

When I was attending formal classes in learning Korean, I once dropped the term ‘verb in infinitive form’ in our class.  Our teacher is not using this term but rather emphasized on the base form of verb which cannot be used in a conversation unless transformed to end in ㅓ or ㅏ.

This post deals with particle that is attached to a verb in the infinitive form.  I made a post about this, more than a year ago perhaps , when I was starting to learn Korean.  The rule is base form of the verb + either ㅏ or ㅓ.  Verb in the infinitive form can only end in these two hangul character, of course if the base form ends in ㅏ or ㅓ then there is no need to add another one.

The particle 서 (seo) is attached to the infinitive form of the verb.  As I always keep on mentioning particles are pronounced without pause.  It is as if the particle is part of the original word.  

So how is this particle used?  Most of the particles I learned functions as grammatical marker in the sentence like the subject particle 가/이 (ka/i) and object particle 을/를 (eul/reul).   This time around, 서 added in a verb in the infinitive form denotes two meanings:

First is to show cause and result similar to English word so (incidentally the particle is 서 romanized as seo but pronounced as so just like the English word).  Here is an example:

시간이 없어서 아침을 먹지 않았어요.   (Shigani opseoseo achimeul meokji anasseoyo).  시간이 없어서  I did not have time so  먹지 않았어요 i skipped eating breakfast.  Although  the sentence direct translation is time i don’t have so breakfast i did not eat, the lack of time made me skip my breakfast.  The lack of time being the cause and the result would be not eating breakfast.

The second use of this particle is to show sequence similar to ‘so as to’ or ‘did and then’.  This way the sequence of event is emphasized.  The 1st and 2nd clause usually has the same subject. Here is an example:

서울에 가서 한강을 봤어어요.  (Seoure kaso hangangeul bowasseoyo).  서울에 가서 I did went to Seoul so as  한강을 봤어어요 to see Han River.  The purpose is to go to Seoul and the result is being able to see Han River.

Note that in the two sentences, verbs  to which 서 is attached are in the present infinitive form, its the verb at the end of the sentence that drives the tense.   This is the same case as that of verb in -고 form the verbs to which it  is attached is not tensed.   So what I learned is that 서 is never compatible with past-infinitive or future-infinitive form of the verb.

Base Words of Verbs – A Review

For the past months, i gained better understanding of Korean words. From my confusion in using the English-Korean Dictionary to how words are used in the different styles or manner of speaking in Korean, i think I have better appreciation now.

I am almost done reading my Elementary Korean book.  After nearly a year and half, I am finally seeing last part of the book’s pages and now looking forward to read Continuing Korean (sequel to Elementary Korean). Since the last portion of the book deals with the more advance verb ending and expressing future events, I decided to make a review of the word formation.  This would likewise give preview on changing verbs into future tense.

Just to recap when looking for words in a dictionary specifically for verbs, you will notice a pattern.  Verbs normally ends in -다 (da). So Korean words for verbs like eat and drink can be found as  먹다 (meokda – pronounced as meoktta) and 마시다 (mashida – pronounced as mashitta).   Removing the 다 leaves you with the regular or plain base of the verb, 먹 and 마시 (meok and mashi).  The plain base form of verb is important, a lot of verb endings are attached to this form.

Infinitive form of the word is derived using some rules but basically verb in its infinitive form either ends in ㅏ (a) or ㅓ (eo).  Consonant ending verbs follows rules on which to add.  For the example above the infinitive form of 먹다 is 먹어 (meogeo).  This is covered by rule that last  vowel of a consonant ending verb will determine which character to add to form the infinitive form. Except for ㅗ andㅏthe rest of vowel takes ㅓ as verb ending.  Now for the other word, 마시다 becomes 마셔 (masyo).  Verb ending in ㅣ takes ㅓ in infinitive ㅣ(ee)+ㅓ(eo) = ㅕ(yeo).   Search for my post on infinitives for the complete rules.  Just remember that the infinitive verb is alreay usable in a conversation on intimate style.  It is also in this form that the polite casual style verb ending 요 (yo)  is attached.

The other base form is the ‘past base’.  This is formed by taking the plain infinitive of the verb plus -ㅆ (ss). Just like the regular infinitive, past infinitive is achieved by adding ㅓsuch that 먹었 (meogeott – past base) becomes 먹었어 (meogeotteo).

The last base word form is the ‘future base’ which is formed by adding 겠 to the plain infinitive form of a verb.  Using our previous example 먹어 (infinitive form)  becomes 먹어겠 (meogeokett) and by adding ㅓ makes the future infinitive for the verb, that is 먹어겠어 (meogeokesseo).

It’s going to be all about the future on the succeeding post.

Honorific Base and Infinitive

When I was trying to check my English-Korean / Korean-English dictionary, I was actually making a big mistake of using the word as is, moreover using the same pattern that English is spoken which is the Subject-Verb-Object pattern.  This is the big difference, in Korean the pattern is Subject-Object-Verb.  Verb being the last part of the sentence is the most important part of the speech as Subject and Object can be dropped in Korean conversation.

The dictionary entry with 다 -da as marker suggest what the base word is. The base word is the one that is used to form infinitive (words as used in conversation).  I have not mastered deducing the base form of a word from its dictionary entry but somehow I am more familiar now.  Using my favorite verb ‘go’:

  • 가다 – Ka-Da is the dictionary entry of this word and is never used as is.
  • 가 – Ka is the base form of this word and at the same time the infinitive form.  Common rule in deriving the infinitive is to add 아 (a) or 어  (eo) to the base form.  There are some complication but normally consonant ending words takes the 어 to get the infinitive except on cases where the previous vowel to the consonant ending word is either ㅗ or ㅏ  in that case 아 is the infinitive ending.

Words have honorific base and infinitive too, similar to the exercise of putting 아 or 어 to the base word to create the regular infinitive.  To make the honorific base, ~으시 or ~시 is added to the base word.  으시 if the word ends in consonant and 시 when word ends in vowel.   Then to make the honorific infinitive ㅓ is added to ~으시 or ~시.  In most cases 으시어 or 시어 is abbreviated to 으셔 or 셔.

Let’s take the word ‘write’ as an example:

  • 쓰다 – Ss-eu-da is the dictionary form of the word (again never used in a conversation unless you are asked what write is in Korean)
  • 쓰 – Ss-eu is the base form of the word
  • 써 – Ss-eo is the regular infinitive form, as mentioned earlier, infinitive form ends with either ㅓor ㅏ.  In the case of the word write which end in ㅡ the rule is  to drop this and replace with ㅓ but if the word still has a vowel before it which ends in ㅗ ㅏ then ㅏ will be the ending.  For this word ㅡ is the last and only vowel so the ending will be ㅓ.
  • 쓰시 – Ssu-shi is the honorific base form.
  • 쓰셔 – Ssu-syo is the infinitive form

Other verbs in their honorific infinitive:

Read  (dictionary entry 읽다 — ikda)

  • 읽 – ik (where s sound is silent) is the regular base form
  • 읽어 – i-ko is the regular infinitive form
  • 읽으시 – i-ku-shi is the honorific base form
  • 읽으셔 – i-ku-syo is the honorific infinitive form

Walk (dictionary entry 걷다 geot-da)

  • 걷 – geot is the base form
  • 걷어 – geo-to is the infinitive form
  • 걷으시 -geo-tu-shi is the honorific base form
  • 걷으셔 – gee-tu-syo is the honorific infinitive form

Come (dictionary entry 오다 oda)

  • 오 – eo is the base form
  • 와 – wa is the infinitive form
  • 오시 – eo-shi is the honorific base form
  • 오셔 – eo-syo is the honorific infinitive form

Verbs: Infinitive Form – Part 2

Verbs ending in vowel seems to be more complicated (as it has more rules and variation in making the infinitive form) than the consonant ending one.  These so far are the ways i have learned out of the 8 possibilities mentioned in the book:

  • Verbs with base form ending in 아,어 or 애 has the same infinitive form as its base form.  No wonder I always hear in Korean movies and dramas 가 and 자, which means go and sleep respectively.  Other example would be 서 (stand) and  매 (tie). These verbs have the same base and infinitive form.
  • Verbs ending in 이 is suppose to be added with 어 to have the infinitive form but the ending is abbreviated to 여 instead of -이어. Example is 가르치 (teach) which becomes 가르쳐 instead of  가르치어.
  • Another abbreviation happens for verbs ending in 우, to form the infinitive 어 should be added.  However, instead of yielding a -우어 ending, it will become . As such, 주 is 줘 in infinitive form.
  • The next rule is similar to principle mentioned in consonant ending verbs where the last vowel is ㅗ.  Verbs ending in ㅗ will have its infinitive form by adding 아 BUT this should be shortened to 와. Classic example is the Korean word ‘come’ and ‘look’ which is 오 and 보 respectively.  To get the infinitive form this words become 와 and 봐.
  • For verb ending in 으, either 아 or 어 is added but ㅡ has to be dropped.  So for the verb 쓰 which means write, instead of 쓰어 the infinitive form becomes 써.  The principle of last vowel after dropping ㅡ  will apply. So if the last vowel is either ㅜ or  ㅏ after ㅡ is dropped then should be added instead of 어. An example of this would be the word 바쁘 which means busy.  Since the last vowel when ㅡ is dropped will beㅏ then the infinitive form of this word would be 바빠.

The 3 other ways to form infinitive are a bit complicated.  Its really more of an exception.  This will require more time for me to fully understand.  So far these 5 ways are easy to remember.