이다, 아니다, 있다, 없다 (to be/not to be, to have/not have)

First, We are going to learn about two very important verbs to know: to be, and to have.

The verb 이다 means to be.
The verb 아니다 means not to be.
The verb 있다 means to have or to be there.
The verb 없다 means to not have or to not be there.

This is our first lesson with grammar. For Korean grammar, please remember that the structure is Subject-Object-Verb. So the Verb goes last in the sentence, and is usually the most important part of the sentence, as the verb endings can change as you will find out. The root form of every Korean verb ends in ‘다’. But when using these verbs, we have to conjugate them. This means, we have to remove the ‘다’ from the end of the verb and replace it with an ending. In these first lessons, we are going to focus on the ‘polite’ ending, which is the form you will use when talking to strangers and acquaintances. For this form, we always use the ending ‘요’ (yo). This ending indicates politeness.

For 이다, when the noun ends in a consonant, the ending 이에요 is used. When the noun ends in a vowel, 예요 is used.
For 아니다, the ending 아니에요 is used.
The polite ending for 있다 is 있어요. The polite ending for 없다 is 없어요.
Korean has different verbs for addressing people of different statuses, as you will find out. In this case, 계시다 is the honorific form of 있다, and is only used when talking to seniors and elders.

From now on, I will use AV to denote Action Verb, DV to denote Descriptive Verb (Adjective), V to denote any verb, and N to denote Noun.

N + 이다
N + 아니다
N + 있다
N + 없다

Examples:

가방이에요. = It’s a bag.

예요. = It’s me.

학교아니에요. = It’s not a school.

이에요? = Is it water?

커피 있어요? = Do you have any coffee?

사람이 없어요. = There’s no people there.

시간이 없어요. = I don’t have any time.

은/는 (topic particle)

N + 은/는

Appending 은/는 to a noun denotes the topic of the sentence.
When the noun ends in a consonant, the ending 은 is used.
When the noun ends in a vowel, 는 is used.

The topic particle is used to specify what you are talking about, or in contrast to other things. This is different than in English, where in English the subject is never omitted and sometimes ‘the’ is used to be more specific.

Also notice that almost every sentence in these lessons ends with ‘요’. This word denotes a ‘polite’ ending, and is attached to the end of everything when you are talking to someone that you don’t know well. We will cover this more in a later lesson.

Examples

학생이에요 = I’m a student.

내일 일해요 = I’m working tomorrow

Particle + 은/는

Advanced usage: Using 은/는 on a particle instead of a noun emphasizes the particle and/or emphasizes the contrast between two things.

Examples

토론토에서는 엄청 추워요! – Toronto is really cold! (in comparison to other cities).

혼자 가면은 안될거같아요. – If you go alone, it wouldn’t be good. (emphasizing only if you go alone).

하진 않아요. – I haven’t decided. (emphasizing that you haven’t).

아/어/여 (present tense)

V + 아/어/여

When we want to speak in present tense, we conjugate korean verbs by removing the verb stem ‘다’ and replacing it with either 아,어 or 여.

1. When the verb’s last vowel ends in ㅏ or ㅗ, we replace the stem with ‘아’.

2. When the verb’s last vowel does not end in ㅏ or ㅗ, we replace the stem with ‘어’.

3. When the verb ends in 하다 or 이다, we replace it with ‘여’.

4. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but we’ll cover those later on.

5. We add 요 to the end for the polite marker (we’ll cover this more later), which is most often used.

Examples

가다 + + 요 = 가요 – go

먹다 + + 요 = 먹어요 – eat

좋아하다 + + 요 = 좋아해요 – like

어디 요? = Where are you going?

지금 뭐요? = What are you doing?

먹어요! = Eat!