Lesson 1 - 제1과
Grammar & Translation

  Grammar explanation


A - Verbs: recognising and conjugating them

Korean verbs are relatively easy to recognise - their infinitive form ends in -다

For example: 가다, 오다, 보다, 만나다, 먹다, 마시다...

The root is the verb without the final syllable "다". For the examples given above, the respective roots are:
가-, 오-, 보-, 만나-, 먹-, 마시-, etc.

Since there are seven speech levels in Korean, we're not going to study all of them (thankfully). Instead, we’ll address the most common of all - the informal polite level known as 해요체 (Haeyoche). The formal polite level called 합쇼체 (Hapshoche) is also widely used. We chose the first one because it is the most common speech level in Seoul, South Korea and it is gaining ground across the country.

Conjugation rules for Haeyoche

1) All verbs ending in "-하다" (하다 means "to do") use the conjugated form "-해요".


공부하다 -> 공부해요

주문하다 -> 주문해요

2) All verbs containing the vowels ""(a) or ""(o) in the last syllable of the root get the ending "ㅏ요".


가다 -> + 아요 ->

보다 -> + 아요 ->

3) All the other verbs get the ending "ㅓ요".


When vowels others than and are in the last syllable of the root

마시다 -> 마시 + 어요 -> (since 시 + 어 equals 셔)

배우다 -> 배우 + 어요 -> (since 우 + 어 equals 워)

When the last syllable of the root is a closed syllable (ending with a consonant)

먹다 -> + 어요 -> 어요

읽다 -> + 어요 -> 어요

For the record, these different conjugations are the last evidence Korean kept from its past vowel harmony.


B - Nominal suffix -이다

This nominal suffix acts like a verb, and more precisely like the verb "to be".

After an open syllable (ending with a vowel), "" can be omitted.


학생 + 이다 -> 학생이다. To be a student.

남자 + 이다 -> 남자(이)다. To be a man.

The conjugations of this particle are in all ways similar to verbs. For example, the haeyoche becomes 이에요 (it can also be written 예요).

저는 한국 사람이에요. I am Korean.


C - Thematic particle -는 / -은

This particle follows the topic or theme. "" is used after open syllables, and "" after closed syllables. To differentiate it from the grammatical subject, we can translate the topic before 는/은 as "regarding", "about"...


한국 사람이에요. About me (I) am Korean.

김태호 학생이에요. Regarding Kim Tae-ho, (he) is a student.

We will study this particle in detail later.


  Translation of the text


Kim Taeho: Hello. I am Kim Taeho.

John: Hello. I am John.

Kim Taeho: John is (are you) Australian ?

John: Yes, (I am) Australian. Kim Taeho is (are you) Korean?

Kim Taeho: Yes, I am Korean.