Korean lesson 7: To be or not to be?


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In this lesson we will be looking at the verb TO BE which is quite different in Korean to what we are used to.

Technically the verb to be is “ida”
It doesn’t stand alone however, it sticks on the end of the final noun.
Sonsaegnim-ieyo – I am a teacher
The -ieyo bit is the verb TO BE

In the more formal style it is -imnida
Sonsaengnim-imnida – I am a teacher

In the informal it is -ya
Sonsaengnim-iya – I am a teacher

There are 2 other verbs which correspond to the verb TO BE
itta and opta

itta means ‘to exist’ or ‘to have’
yaksuk issoyo – There is a Pharmacy
ton issoyo – I have money

opta means ‘to not exist’ or ‘to not have’
yaksuk opsoyo – there isn’t a Pharmacy
ton opsoyo – I don’t have any money

Finally, any adjective in Korean is actually a verb. If you say someone is pretty, the word pretty already means ‘is pretty’ so no extra word for ‘is’ is necessary.
chipsaram nomu yeppo – My wife is very pretty (yeppo – is pretty)
chip k’oyo – the house is big (k’oyo – is big)
ch’a chagoyo – the car is small (chagoyo – is small)

You will be relieved to have noticed that no verb ‘conjugates’ or changes per person in Korean like in European languages. In Korean -ieyo or issoyo or yeppo can mean any of the following:
-ieyo = I am / you are / he is / she is / we are / you (plural) are / they are
issoyo = I have / you have / he has / she has / we have / you (plural) have / they have
opsoyo = I don’t have / you don’t have / he doesn’t have / she doesn’t have / we don’t have / you (plural) don’t have / they don’t have

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