Use of Simple Modifier

So i have learned that the simple modifier (으)ㄴ can be easily done by attaching it to base for of the verb.  USing this modifer allows creation of noun phrse or a clause that modifies a noun.  The simple modifier has two meanings.  With an adjective  it means that is or equals noun.

  • 큰 가방 (keun kabang) 크 descriptive verb meaning large added with simple modifier ㄴ and 가방 meaning bag.  This noun phrase means large bag or a bag that is large.
  • 좋은 아침 (choeun achim) good morning or morning that is good
  • 예쁜 여자 (yeppeun yoja)  beautiful lady or a lady that is beautiful

This simple modifier when added to a processive (action) verb, it has the past meaning like has done or that someone did or has done.  The tense is the difference compared to the use of simple modifier with descriptive verb.

  • 떠난 남자 (ddonan namja)  떠나 meaning left and 남자 meaning a man or a guy.  This noun phrase means the guy who left.
  • 읽은 편지 (ilkeun pyeonji) the letter that (I did) read
  • 만난 친구 (mannan chingu) the friend I met

Since the processive verb when added with this simple modifier has the past meaning, it is therefore impossible to put this simple modifier to past base form of the verb like 만났은 친구.

Looks pretty easy for now.  Although there maybe slight difference the way you do it in English, this is the beauty of the Korean language with just a simple addition of ㄴ to a verb followed by a noun you instantly make a noun phrase.

 

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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.

Uses of Simple Modifier (으)ㄴ

I have always had difficulties understanding modifiers in Korean, reading lessons about this topic for once is not enough.  I guess you really have to read over and over to fully understand its use.  This is were I struggled the most.

Going back to lessons on simple modifier, now it seems more clear to me it’s use.   When used with an adjective, it directly modifies the noun in front of it.  So this means descriptive verbs (non action or non processive types) directly modifies the noun in front of it when it takes t. is form.  An example would be from this sentence:  침대이 커요 (Chimdae.i keoyo) — which means  ‘the bed is big’ can be expressed in a different manner by using this simple modifier.  큰 침대 (Keun chimdae) would then mean the bed that is big.  In this form the phrase can be used to create a little more advance sentence:  큰 침대을 사고 싶어요 (Keun chimdaereul sago shipeoyo), this means I want to buy a big bed.

This modifier works differently when attached to an action word or processive verbs.  As mentioned by one commenter (Cristo), it has a past meaning when used with processive verbs.  Here are some examples:

  • 걸은 사람 (Goreun saram) – the person who walked
  • 쓴 편지 (Sseun pyeonji) – the letter that (I) wrote
  • 기다린 어머니 (Kidarin eomeoni) – the mother who waited

Also got a tip that whenever processive verbs are used in this form, there is no need to transform the verb into past tense since the use of the modifier already signifies that that action has been done already. Therefore it would be impossible to see 걸었언 사람 (Keoreosseon saram) since 걸은 사람 would already meant a person who walked.