Grammar Lesson 4 Korean

(ㄴ/는)다,(아/어)라,니,냐,자 (intimate and plain forms)

In Korean there are different levels of politeness that one needs to be aware of.
We use the polite form usually with strangers (using 요 at the end of every sentence), and also we learned about the deferential form which we use for seniors and elders.
Now it’s time to learn two other forms, the intimate and plain forms.
The intimate form ending (called 반말) is easy. We just take the ‘요’ off of any polite sentence ending and that’s the intimate form!
We use the intimate form with anyone whom we consider either lower in age (like a child), or someone who we are close with (like a close friend or lover).
Now that we got the intimate form out of the way, the rest of this article will talk about the plain form.

1. What is the plain form? The plain form is used mostly in writings, and sometimes when speaking. When writing, the formality doesn’t matter, and when speaking, it is on roughly the same level as the intimate form, and is often used with close friends or family.

V + (ㄴ/는)다
DV + 다

2. The standard way of making a plain form statement is to replace the verb stem with ‘ㄴ/는’ 다 (ㄴ for vowel endings, 는 for consonant endings), but only for action verbs. Adjectives (descriptive verbs) don’t change at all, they use the dictionary 다 form. When speaking, the statement form can be used to draw attention to something.

나는 보통 7시에 아침을 먹는다. – I usually eat breakfast at 7am.

난 집에 가야 된다. – I have to go home.

V + 느냐?
V + 니?
V + 냐?

3. When asking a question in writing with the plain form, the ending is -느냐?, but when speaking in plain form, the question ending is either ‘-니?’ or ‘-냐?’, with the latter slightly more intimate.

커피를 좀 마시고싶니? – Do you want to drink some coffee?

혹시 난 널 사랑하냐? – Perhaps I love you?

AV + (아/어)라!

4. When making a request or imperative statement in plain form, we conjugate with -아라 if the verb’s last vowel ends in ㅏ,ㅗ, and -어라 otherwise.

김치 먹어라! – Eat some Kimchi!

AV + 자!

5. As mentioned before, -자 is the plain/intimate ending for making a suggestion.

같이 가자! – Let’s go together!

Grammar Lesson 4 Korean

(ㄴ/은)데/는데 (explanation,but,surprise)

Now we look at a very common Korean grammar construct, (ㄴ/은)데/는데. This is used in a variety of situations to explain something, to join sentences, to express surprise, to expect an answer.

AV + 는데
DV + (ㄴ/은)데

1. Verbs lose the stem and append -는데, Descriptive verbs (adjectives) append ㄴ + 데 if the last character is a vowel or ㄹ, or 은데 if the last character is a consonant.

2. It is used when you are explaining the background or situation or result, as a way of joining sentences together.

내일 주말인데, 뭐 할 거예요? – It’s the weekend tomorrow, what are you going to do?

영화 봤는데, 무서웠어요. – I watched a movie, and it was scary.

3. It is used to join sentences together similar to how 근데/그런데 is used, with a ‘but/however’ meaning, but less strong then that of 지만. It can be used as an ending if the resulting meaning is obvious.

준비 많이 했는데, 잘 못해요. – I prepared a lot, but I am unable do it.

4. It is used to express surprise.

와 진짜 예쁜데요! – Wow that’s really pretty!

5. When used as a question ending, you are expecting some explanation from the listener.

뭐 하시는데요? – What are you doing? (expecting explanation)

Grammar Lesson 4 Korean

지/죠 (confirmation, agreement, certainty)

Now we look at a very common Korean ending, 죠 (지요). This a very subtle but important ending to know because its use is so widespread.

V + 지/죠

1. 지/죠 is used when you are agreeing/confirming or saying something with certainty to another person who knows what you are talking about.

이 영화는 진짜 무서웠! – This movie was really scary! (saying with certainty and confirming with another person).

맞아요, 정말 맛있. – Right, It’s indeed really delicious. (agreeing/confirming with another person).

2. When 지/죠 is used as a question ending, you are asking another person to agree with you or confirm that you are right.

재밌? – It’s fun, right?

오늘 날씨가 춥? – Today’s weather is cold right?