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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Learning Korean - Tenses (한국어 배우기 – 시제)

Past Tense

The past tense can be past perfect, past progressive, or simple past. Now, I’m sure most native speakers of English (save for the English majors or linguistic majors) don’t really know what each of these terms means, per se, so I shall explain.
Past perfect means an action completed in the past, usually before something else. E.g. I had gone to bed before the snowstorm started. In Korean the ending for this is: 었었/았었/ㅆ었어(요)
e.g. 눈이 많이 내리기 전에 내가 이미 자러 갔었다.
Past Progressive means an action that happened in the past and continued in the past. E.g. I was studying because I have an exam tomorrow. In Korean the ending for this is: ~고 있었다
e.g. 내일 시험이 있어서 공부하고 있었다.
Simple past is the regular past tense that you and I use on a daily basis. E.g. I went to school today. In Korean the ending for this is: 었/았/ㅆ 어(요)
e.g. 오늘 학교에 갔다
Now to mention something a little more complicated: in Korean there is a very easy way to say “I went ____ and came back”. For example, in English we can say “I just came back from my friend’s house” or “I just got home from my friend’s house”, in Korean this can be accomplished with a simple grammar point. So for example: 갔다(가) 왔다 (or 갔다(가) 오다)
The “가” is usually used for “while” doing something or “having just finished thing 1, thing 2), but it is optional in most cases.
So, if you want to say you just got back from your friend’s, or you went there and just got home, you can say: 친구(네) 집에 갔다 왔어(요).
Other than these three major past tenses, there is also a grammar point for the phrase “have you ever…?” This is asking about experience. e.g. “Have you ever visited the States before?” The same structure can be used to reply.
For example:
미국에 가본 적이 있나요? (Have you ever been to the States?)
아니요 미국에 가본 적이 없어요. (No, I’ve never been)
NB: There are some conjunctions in Korean that cannot or should not be used in conjunction with the past tense. It is okay! Koreans will now which tense you are using because the past tense will be used in the second clause instead of the first. In Korean, as long as one clause contains the tense, the rest of your speech can be understood. The same goes for future tense.
The main conjunction here is ~, meaning “so” in the sense of “because”.
For example: Sorry, I couldn’t answer your call because I was working.
미안한데 일하고 있어서 전화 받았어.

Present Tense

The present tense in Korean technically is a plain tense used in most writing, news reports, etc. However, since Korean also has the distinction between 반말 (informal words) and 존댓말(polite words) we can assume that, for the most part, when speaking with or without “요” and without any of the other tense-changing structures, that people are referring to the present. Then, of course, there is also the present progressive tense.
So first, the plain simple present tense is created by adding ~는다/ㄴ다 to verbs (동사) and ~다 to adjectives (형용사).
So for some examples:
동사: I read every night → 매일 밤 내가 책을 읽는다
I like the colour blue → 파란색을 좋아한다
형용사: She is really pretty → 그녀가 참 예쁘다
Seeing you happy is great → 행복한 모습을 보기가 좋다
In everyday speech it is more common to use 반말 (amongst friends) and 존댓말 (with new people or people in a higher position than you [윗사람] / people who are older than you).
So to change the sentence mentioned above into 반말 (존댓말):
동사: 매일밤 내가 책을 읽어()
파란색을 좋아해()
형용사: 그녀가 참 예뻐()
행복한 모습 보기가 좋아()
Now for the present progressive: this is really easy, you just add ~고 있다.
For example:
I am listening to music right now → 지금 음악을 듣 있어().

Future Tense

The most common way to speak in the future tense in Korean is using, ㄹ거에요, which essentially means “will do something”. There is some inherent probability in the statement, although there are other grammar points that will put more emphasis on the probability of something (which I will discuss later), and others which will put more emphasis on voluntary/involuntary actions.
For example:
I will go to my friend’s birthday party on Saturday → 토요일에는 친구 생일 파티에 갈거에요 (반말: 친구생일 파티에 갈거야)
You can also say this same sentence with the “intention” of doing something – meaning you are not really sure if you will or not, but you intend to go. The grammar point for this is: ~려고 하다, but can be used in many different forms in slang.
For example:
존댓말: 토요일에는 친구 생일 파티에 가려고 해요
With slang: 토요일에는 친구 생일 파티에 가려고요/ 가려구요
반말: 토요일에는 친구 생일 파티에 가려고
With slang: 토요일에는 친구 생일 파티에 가려고/ 가려구/ 갈라고/ 갈라구
Now for voluntary! There is a way to say, in Korean “I will ~~~ (do something)” but it has the connotation that you are doing it completely voluntarily – because you want to. You don’t have to do what you say you will do, it just sounds more polite because you are saying you will do it with this connotation of “yes I’d like to! I will definitely do it!” This is constructed with “ㄹ게(요)”.
For example:
I will contact you tomorrow! → 내일 연락할게(요)!
I will stay by your side! → 네 곁에 있어줄게
And FINALLY, for “it seems like”. This structure can be constructed in two ways: “~은/는(present)/ㄹ/를 (future) 것 같다” and “~ㅆ나보다 (past)/ㄴ가보다 (present)”.
These structures are used for probability, when you’re unsure of something.
For example:
You are texting back and forth with your friend until dawn, and suddenly your friend stops responding for an hour or so. Before going to bed you might say something like this: “아 잠들었나봐. 그래. 잘자. 낼 봐!” (oh, it looks like you fell asleep. Ok, goodnight. See you tomorrow!)
Or maybe you want to meet up with your friend at school tomorrow, but you’re still not 100% sure if you’re going to school yet. But if your friend wants to meet up, you will be more likely to go, I’m sure. So you might say something like: “현지야! 낼 수업이 없는데도 학교에 갈거 같아서 잠깐 만날래?” (Hyunji! Even though I don’t have class tomorrow it looks like I’m going to go to school so would you like to meet up for a bit?)
LASTLY, there’s the predicate “겠” which means, might/must. There are some really common expressions/phrases with “겠”.
For example:
오늘 하루종일 일했다고요? 와~ 많이 피곤하겠어요. (You worked all day today?! Wow, you must be so tired!)
잘 되겠네요! (Oh that sounds good!/ It looks like it’ll turn out well!)
Of course, there are many more grammatical points to be explained! Hopefully I’ll be able to cover them in another article! I hope this one helps you with your Korean learning! 화이팅! 절대 포기하지 마세요! Never give up!

Source: ATK Magazine