This series on Korean irregular verbs begins with the ㅡ irregular verbs. This group is known as such because the verb stem ends in ㅡ. Among these verbs are: 나쁘다 or 예쁘다. Just keep a few simple in mind when using these verbs.

Three Rules for ㅡ Irregular Verbs

Irregular verbs might seem very daunting. The Korean irregular verbs, however, are a lot easier than the irregular verbs in many European languages. They simply require you to keep in mind some extra rules. For the ㅡ irregular verbs, it is one major rule and 3 additional rules you need to keep in mind.

The major rule simply tells you when the verbs act differently than “normal” verbs. ㅡ irregular verbs behave differently when an ending begins with 어/아, such as the polite present simple. When you are using an ending that ends in 어/아 you need to follow these three simple rules:

  1. When the verb stem is preceded by a syllable with either vowels ㅏ or ㅗ, you drop ㅡ and use the endings with 아 such as -아요.
  2. When the verb stem is preceded by a syllable with neither vowels ㅏ or ㅗ, you drop ㅡ and use the endings with 어 such as -아요.
  3. When the verb stem has a single syllable, you drop ‘ㅡ’ and use the endings with 어 such as -어요.

While the rules seem complicated they are a lot easier than you might think. Look at this little chart I made that explains these rules using some examples. Everything becomes easier when you can see it happen.

ㅡ Irregular Verbs - Chart

Examples how to conjugate the ㅡ irregular verbs. Don’t forget the first rule!

Short List

There are many verbs that follow this conjugation. However, learning all these verbs is impossible. That is why I selected a few, very useful verbs that follow this conjugation. I have selected these verbs to start things off with: 예쁘다, 바쁘다, 아프다, 배가 고프다, 크다, 나쁘다, 쓰다, 끄다, 기쁘다, 슬프다 and 잠그다. As always you can use my Memrise course ‘ㅡ Irregular Verbs’, if you want to learn these words.


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Nick is a someone who enjoys exploring new and different things. 2 years ago when he met his Korean friends he decided to go for it and learn Korean. Now he is struggling with the language while sharing an apartment with his Korean roomie.

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