Turning Descriptive Verb to Processive

This post is sort of a review on one of the most important part of Korean sentence — verb that is.   Korean sentences usually ends with a verb.  There are two types of verb in Korean, processive and descriptive verbs.  The processive verb is the typical action word as we know in English while the descriptive type is actually adjective.

One main difference of a processive verb with a descriptive one is that it can take direct object.  It can take nouns marked with 을 or 를 (eul or reul) unlike descriptive verbs which can only take subjects and topics, these are nouns marked by either 이/가 (i/ga) or 은 는 (eun/neun) respectively.  This thing is very important in turning descriptive verb to processive type.

How is it done?  this is by simply adding 해요 (haeyo) or 합니다 (hamnida) to the verb.  Here are some examples:

  • 좋아요 (choayo) –> 좋아해요 (choahaeyo) means is good, is liked or likes
  • 싫어요 (shireoyo) –>  싫어해요 (shireohaeyo) means is dislikes or dislikes
  • 기뻐요 (gippeoyo) –>기뻐해요 (gippeohaeyo) means is happy or glad

The practical use of descriptive verbs turned into processive is mainly to express what another person feels or thinks.  This is because in Korean, the speaker ordinarily is not allowed to state flatly what other people thinks or feels.  Such transformation makes the indirect pattern.  Here is an example:

  • 제인이 와서 좋아요 (Jeini waseo choayo).  It’s good that Jane has come or I am glad Jane has come.
  • 제인이 와서 좋아해요 (Jeini waseo choahaeyo). Someone is glad that Jane is here or Jane is glad to be here.

Turning Descriptive Verbs into Processive Verbs

I previously learned that verbs are classified as descriptive and processive in Korean (well we call descriptive verbs as adjectives in English).  I have learned a handful of descriptive verbs like 좋아 (choa- good or  like), 쉬워 (swiwo – be easy),  우려워  (uryeowo – be difficult), 예뻐 (yeppeo – to be pretty) to name a few.

These type of verbs are normally used in first person sentences or second person questions.  In most of my readings, I have always been reminded to never speak of what another people feels or thinks. The Korean language does not ordinarily allow speaker to state directly what another person feels or thinks.  So when you hear this line:

이것이 좋아요 (Ikeoti chuayo) It means ‘I like this’ .  While the language allows subject to be dropped in a sentence, this will unlikely mean ‘He or She likes this’. ‘

To turn a descriptive verb into processive, 해요 is normally added to it.  This externalizes the emotion and feelings allowing the descriptive verb to be used to refer to someone else’s thoughts.  See example below:

Own emotion – 어머니가 와서 좋아요. (Eomeonika waseo chuayo).  I am happy mother is here.

Someone else’s emotion –  어머니가 와서 좋아해요. (Eomeonika waseo chuahaeyo). [Someone else] is happy that mother is here or Mother is glad to be here.

Note that 해요 is added on the infinitive form of the descriptive verb. This way, the verb becomes processive and can therefore take direct objects see example below where both sentence means ‘I don’t like kimchi’ :

  • 나는 김치싫어요 (Naneun kimchika shireoyo)
  • 나는 깈치 싫어요 (Naneun kimchireul chireohaeyo)

To make this statement as ‘Brother doesn’t like kimchi’ then it would be:

어빠는 김치 싫어요 (Oppaneun kimchireul shireohaeyo)

The expressions are made honorific by adding (으)시 after 하  and not within the base of descriptive verb.  So the last example above can be said this way:

오빠는 김치를 싫어하요. ( Oppaneun kimchireul shirehaseyo).

Verbs: Descriptive and Processive

In most of my readings on learning hangul, verbs have been described as the most important part of Korean sentence. Korean verbs can be generally classified as

  • Descriptive – functions like an adjective, something that you use in a sentence ‘it is…’
  • Processive – is the action word similar to the English counterpart

Some basic rules I learned from the book on use of verbs:

  • Descriptive verbs cannot take an object word marked as with particle ( or ) only processive verbs can take this word. 
  • Processive verbs can also take indirect object marked with particle (한테 or 에게) and (한테서 or 에게서)
  • Copula 있어요 (issoyo) and 없어요 (opsoyo) cannot take object marked with ( or ). This means you cannot say  집을있어요 (Jipeul issoyo) — pertaining to house or has house/house exists.  This should be stated this way à 집이 있어요 (Jip-i issoyo).