SayJack » grammar
Very often you want to express something that you heard. You simply attach そうだ to the end of the plain form of the sentence that you heard. For example, if you want to say “I heard that the weather would become nice tomorrow.” – You would need to express “The weather would become nice tomorrow” in plain form, and then attach そうだ (casual) or そうです (polite) to it.
To construct the plain present tense form of a phrase, check if it ends with a noun, an adjective or a verb, and do the following:
- I hear that the weather will be nice tomorrow.
- I hear that it is hot outside.
- I hear that he is a student.
- That’s what I heard.
You would change the sentence to plain past tense form if the sentence is in past tense. If you are not sure what it means, please look up a detailed description for plain forms of noun phrases, adjectives and verbs.
In English we have tense agreement. For example, it is technically incorrect if you say “I heard that he is a student.” In Japanese, however, そうだ already implies it is something that you heard, and you do not need to change the tense of the original sentence.
- I heard that he went to school everyday.
Recall that an adverb is usually used to modify a verb, just as an adjective is usually used to modify a noun. In English, in general, you add “ly” to change adjectives to adverbs. For example, aggressive is an adjective and aggressively is an adverb. In Japanese, there is also a regular way to change adjectives to adverbs, as follows:
い-adjective: change い to く
な-adjective: change な to に
Exception: change いい (good) to よく (well).
Unlike English, which you may put adverb either before or after the main verb in a sentence, you usually put the Japanese adverb before the main verb.
In order to make more complex sentences, you need to use verbs or adjectives other than their simplest dictionary form. In English, in general, you add “ly” to change adjectives to adverbs. However, for example, when you change “happy” to “happily,” you need to modify “happy” to “happi” before adding “ly” at the end of the word. Technically this kind of modification is called morphological changes.
In Japanese, a widely used morphological changes is the て-form (te-form). By making a verb or an adjective in its て-form, you are ready to “glue” the word with more unit of meanings.
て-form of Japanese Verbs
If you know how to conjugate Japanese verbs to their plain past form (た-form), you shouldn’t have any problems to conjugate verbs to their て-form, as the conjugation rules are identical.
|る-verbs Ending with||Replace with||Example|
|る||→ て||食べる → 食べて|
|う-verbs Ending with||Replace with||Example|
|す||→ して||出す→ 出して|
|く||→ いて||書く→ 書いて|
|ぐ||→ いで||泳ぐ→ 泳いで|
|る, う or つ||→ って||作る→ 作って|
|む, ぶ or ぬ||→ んで||飲む→ 飲んで|
|Irregular verbs||Replace with||Example|
|する||→ して||勉強する → 勉強して|
|くる||→ きて||持ってくる → 持ってきて|
Verb+ている and Ongoing Actions
One of the easiest applications of て-form is to represent ongoing actions. You attach いる to the verb in て-form. It is equivalent to gerund (-ing) form in English.
Verb+ている and Resultant State
However, when the verb in use are in motions, such as 行く, 来る, 帰る or 出かける, its ている form does not imply an ongoing action. Instead, it represents a resultant state, meaning that the action is already completed. You may simply consider the て-form as a connector between the motion verb and the verb いる.
In many other cases, the context or the nature of the verb implies that its ている form represents a resultant state.
Verb+ている and Habitual Actions
You may also use ている form to express repeated habitual actions.
It is never too much to emphasize that being polite is very important in Japanese culture, and before you really understand the difference and implication of casual speech, you will almost always want to use polite speech in your conversation. This is the disclaimer before I talk about casual speech in Japanese.
There are 2 basic rules. First, use plain forms (or so-called dictionary forms) for verbs and adjectives. Second, particles such as は(wa), を(o), に(ni), が(ga) are omitted when there is no confusion caused.
The following examples show the contrast between polite speech and casual speech. Note that ですか(desu ka) is omitted in the first question and a rising tone is used instead.
The use of particle よ(yo) at the end of the 2nd and 3rd examples is to make the sentences smoother and express a certain kind of emotion. Particle ね(ne) is also often used.
Particle は(wa) is dropped in the examples. Do not drop the particle (or any other particles) when it carries additional functions other than a “marker.” For instance, when は is used to contrast or compare two things, do not drop the particle in casual speech. A similar example is to drop を(o) when it is a purely object marker.
You may notice that “Yes” and “No” in the examples above have different forms for casual speech. In fact, there are a few special forms for casual speech, as listed in the following table:
|Polite Speech||Casual Speech||English Definition|
|…んです||…んだ (man)||(end of a statement)|
To study this grammar point, please make sure you understand the following:
Conjugation is to modify of a verb or an adjective in order to fulfil a change in tense or to supplement additional meanings.
All Korean conjugation for verbs and adjectives are under one of the following 3 categories:
- 고-type: Original Stem + Suffix
- 으-type: Alternate Stem + (으) + Suffix
- 어-type: Alternate Stem + 어/아 + Suffix, Vowel Contractions
The basic idea is to identify the word stem and attach a suffix to the stem.
1. 고-type ConjugationThis is named after the basic 하고 conjugation. Original stem is always used, with the following exceptions:
- For ㄹ-irregular, when the attaching suffix starts with ㄴ, ㅅ or ㅂ (e.g. 는, 네, 습니다), alternate stem is used (i.e. ㄹ is dropped).
- For ㅎ-irregular, use alternate stem when the attaching suffix is 네.
|Plain Form||Meaning||Stem 1||Stem 2||+고||+습/ㅂ니다||+네||Remarks|
|그렇다||to be so||그렇||그러||그렇고||그렇습니다||그러네||ㅎ-irregular|
Note: Original Stem = Stem 1, Alternate Stem = Stem 2.
2. 으-type Conjugation
Use alternate stem and if the stem ends with a consonant, insert 으 after the stem.
However, there are 3 exceptions:
- For ㅅ-irregular, 으 is always inserted.
- For ㄹ-irregular, if the suffix starts with 면 or 러, use original stem and do not insert 으.
- For 르-irregular, use original stem instead.
|Plain Form||Meaning||Stem 1||Stem 2||+ (으)세요||+ (으)면||+ (으)러||Remarks|
3. 어-type Conjugation
You can consider 어-type conjugation as a 2-step process. First you need to determine whether 아 or 어 should be attached, then you need to do a vowel contraction if necessary.
The following rules determine whether to attach 어 or 아 before the suffix:
- If the last vowel of the stem is a 오 or 아, attach 아 + suffix.
- If the last vowel is 으 and its previous hangul has a 오/아 vowel, attach 아 + suffix.
- Otherwise, attach 어 + suffix.
|Case||Contraction||Example||Meaning||Stem + 아/어요||Remarks|
|*||하 +아 → 해||공부하다||study||공부하 + 아요 → 공부해요||하다-related|
|1||아 +아 → 아||가다||go||가 +아요 → 가요|
|오 +아 → 와||오다||come||오 +아요 → 와요|
|돕다||help||도오 +아요 → 도와요||ㅂ-irregular|
|2||으 +아 → 아||바쁘다||busy||바쁘 +아요 → 바빠요||으-irregular|
|고르다||choose||골르 +아요 → 골라요||르-irregular|
|3||우 +어 → 워||배우다||learn||배우 +어요 → 배워요|
|춥다||cold||추우 +어요 → 추워요||ㅂ-irregular|
|으 +어 → 어||쓰다||write||쓰 +어요 → 써요||으-irregular|
|부르다||call||불르 +어요 → 불러요||르-irregular|
|이 +어 → 여||치다||hit||치 +어요 → 쳐요|
|어 +어 → 어 or 애||건너다||go over||건너 +어요 → 건너요|
|그렇다||to be so||그러 +어요 → 그래요||ㅎ-irregular|
|외 +어 → 왜||되다||become||되 +어요 → 돼요|
|애 +어 → 애||지내다||spend time||지내 +어요 → 지내요|
|여 +어 → 여||펴다||unfold||펴 +어요 → 펴요|
|All||No Contraction||먹다||eat||먹 +어요 → 먹어요|
|듣다||listen||들 +어요 → 들어요||ㄷ-irregular|
|놀다||play||놀 +아요 → 놀아요||ㄹ-irregular*|
|낫다||get better||나 +아요 → 나아요||ㅅ-irregular*|
Use original stem for ㄹ-irregular, and never do vowel contractions forㅅ-irregular.