Lesson 3 - 제3과
Grammar & Translation

  Grammar explanation


A - The past

In this lesson, we learn the past tense. But relax, there's no need to worry. It's rather simple. We will continue with the informal polite speech level, Haeyoche which we have been using since the first lesson.

Case 1: if the root ends with a vowel, and the last vowel of said root is an or an , the suffix -았어요 is added to the root.


가다 -> + 았어요 -> 어요 = (I, you, he, etc) went.

보다 -> + 았어요 -> 어요 = (I, you, he, etc) saw.

오다 -> + 았어요 -> 어요 = (I, you, he, etc) came.

Case 2: if the root ends with any other vowel (but not a consonant), the suffix -었어요 is added to the root.


마시다 -> 마시 + 었어요 -> 어요 = (I, you, he, etc) drank.

Case 3: if the root ends with a consonant (or a combination of vowels), the suffix -었어요 is also added to the root, but in another syllable.


먹다 -> + 었어요 -> 었어요 = (I, you, he, etc) ate.

쉬다 -> + 었어요 -> 었어요 = (I, you, he, etc) rested.


B - The subject particle -이 / -가

We already studied the thematic particle, used to underline the topic. As we've seen already, the topic is what a sentence is constructed around.

The subject particle "" is used after the syllables ending with a vowel, while after a closed syllable it becomes "".

As an example let’s take the following sentence:

저는 학생이에요. I am a student.

In this sentence, the topic is the same as the subject. Let's see another example:

저는 사과이에요. As far as I am concerned, this is an apple.

(As we have already studied, the expression “as far as I am concerned” can translate the thematic particle)
What can this sentence mean? We could hear such an expression in a context where a few friends are picking fruits from a basket. The person taking an apple would indicate having chosen this fruit. In this case only the theme is expressed. In a third example:

이현애는 눈이 커요. Lee Hyeon-ae's eyes are big. (or: Lee Hyeon-ae has big eyes)

Let’s analyse this sentence a bit deeper. It's full of grammatical subtlety despite its shortness:

Lee Hyeon-ae + t.p.  eyes + s.p. be big

Lee Hyeon-ae's eyes are big.

In this sentence, the theme is Lee Hyeon-ae. The subject is the eyes (of Lee Hyeon-ae). The verb is an adjectival verb. In English, adjectival verbs will be translated into adjectives (in this case, big) while in Korean this is a verb and works as such.

All this can appear very subtle and difficult to assimilate at first, but there is no need to worry as we will progress slowly. :-)


C - How to express "Is there..." and how to use the verb to have

Here we start with the first practical use of the subject particle. Indeed, "is there (a)... + subject" will get translated by the theme (accompanied with its thematic particle) followed by the verb "있다".


Is there (an) apple?

But we can also add a theme, as in the following sentence:

Kim Tae-ho has (an) apple?
(or in case we talk directly to Kim Tae-ho)
Have you (an) apple?

Conversely, to say "to not have...", "isn't there..." another verb will be used in exactly the same fashion: 없다.


Isn't there (an) apple?
There is not.

However there is no need to worry: Korean verbs do not all need a negative equivalent... We will soon see how to express negation.


D - "To want" and how to express wishes

The verb "to want" is expressed by the verbal expression "-고 싶다". This suffix is added after the verb root, and is conjugated like other verbs.


먹다 -> + 고 싶어요 -> 고 싶어요 = I want to eat (I am hungry).

도서관에 가다 (To go to the library) -> 도서관에 가고 싶어요 = I want to go to the library.


  Translations of the texts

Text 1


John: Lee Hyeon-ae ! Hello.

Lee Hyeon-ae: Hello, John.

John: What are you doing now? Where are you going?

Lee Hyeon-ae: I'm going to the university canteen. I am hungry (I want to eat).

  Is John also (are you also) hungry? (Does John also want to eat?)

John: No, I've eaten (already).


Text 2


Sue: Hello, I am Sue. I am Canadian.

Kim Tae-ho: Hello, Sue.

  I am Kim Tae-ho. Pleased to meet you.

Sue: Pleased to meet you.

  Kim Tae-ho is (you are) a student of this university?

Kim Tae-ho: Yes, I am a student of Seoul National University.

Sue: I am a foreign student.

  Is there a post office?

Kim Taeho: Yes, (over) there.

Sue: Thank you!