Korean Language Blog

ㄹ ending verbs Posted by on Sep 14, 2009 in Grammar

The verbs that we encountered so far were regular ending verbs like 가다 (to go), 운전하다 (to drive). These verbs were simple in the sense that all you had to do was drop the and add in the standard polite form. For example, 가다 turns to 가요 and 운전하다 turns to 운전해요. The verbs that we’re going to look at today are not so simple.

In particular, the new verbs will end in and will be a part of verbs that are considered irregular in conjugation. Let’s look at the verb 알다, which means ‘to know’ in English. In the present tense, this verb will be 알아요. Instantly, you can see that there are several things going on here: 1) the is dropped (nothing new, we saw that with the regular verbs) 2) is added to indicate the standard polite form (again, nothing new) 3) is placed between and (this is what’s new).

Now that I’ve told you the process, try conjugating a verb like 놀다 (to play). If you follow the steps above, you should get 놀아요. Now try conjugating a verb like 만들다 (to make). Before you conjugate anything, I’ll give you a hint by saying that it’s not going to be conjugated like 놀다 and 알다. With 만들다 you’ll get 만들요 in the standard polite form. Notice that with 만들다 the ending changes to 어요 instead of 아요.

The reason why some ending verbs end in 아요 versus 어요 has to do with the last vowel of the verb. With verbs like 놀다, you’ll see that the last vowel (and the only vowel) is . Vowels like , , , and are called light/yang/positive/bright vowels. (There are more vowels that fall in this category, but for today, we’ll just cover the simple vowels.) The vowels in the verbs 알다 and 놀다 belong to this category. That’s why these verbs will be conjugated as 알아요 and 놀아요, with both verbs ending in 아요.

However vowels like , , , and are called heavy, ying/dark vowels. (Again, there are more vowels that fall in this category, but for today, this is all that’s necessary). You’ll see that verbs like 만들다, has the last vowel ending in . Verbs that have the dark vowels will have the 어요 ending. That’s why 만들다 is conjugated as 만들어요 instead of 만들아요.

In the next post, I’ll clarify this in greater detail, but for today this is a good place to stop. 다음에 봐요! (See you next time!)

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  1. Learning Korean:

    This makes no sense because 만들다 doesn’t have the ㅜ vowel at all…