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Irregular Verbs

Beginners Lesson Four is all about those verbs in Korean that are just plain weird. Irregular verbs in Korean are actually not too bad though! In Beginners Lesson Three, you were introduced to Korean verbs and the irregular verb patterns . The verbs on this page are different. These verbs are commonly used verbs, but either have more than one meaning, are used weird, etc. instead of being irregular patterns . You will see what I mean, right now!

Verb - Polite Style 이다

The first irregular verb that I need to cover here is definitely what many books and courses will call the copula . Basically, it is the verb of equality. Equality? What is that?!? In English, we may say "It is a book." "It" is equal to "book". It is pretty much the verb "to be." If you look in a dictionary, you will see


The verb root is 이. This verb will follow it's own pattern however. It doesn't fit any pattern and just needs to be learned. The polite form will be 이에요 if it comes after a consonant, or 예요 if it comes after a vowel. You will also see it spelled 에요 after a vowel. When spoken, it will sound more like 에요 after a vowel. Let's practice with a sentence. We will use the same sentence as the example in English. Book in Korean is

Since 책 ends in a consonant, we should use the polite ending 이에요. With most normal verbs, there is a space between the verb and any other words, but the copula is a special case. There is no space in between the two words. Also, in Korean sentence structure is different. I feel the best way for you to understand it and get used to it is just to see it. The verb falls at the end of the sentence always . Other words fall before the verb. So, since our verb of "to be" is 이에요, that will fall at the end. There is no space between 이에요 and the word it is describing, so, our sentence comes out to be


As you see, this is like "book-to be". The structure is different, but you will get used to it as you see more and more of it. 책이에요 means "It is a book." Let's see a couple more examples. Remember, you don't need to remember every noun you see yet. Memorize what you find on the homework page.


연필 means pencil. It ends in ㄹwhich is also a consonant. If we combine this with the polite ending and keep the correct word order, we get 연필이에요, meaning "It is a pencil."

차 means car. It ends in ㅏ which is a vowel. Because it ends in a vowel, the correct spelling of 이다 would be 예요. The sentence would be 차예요, meaning "It is a car."

Do you understand it a little better now? If so, then let's look at this, and then there will be some practice problems.

Verb - Casual Style 이다

Many resources choose to teach you mostly one style first, usually polite style, and then much later return to teach you the other commonly used style. I feel it is best to teach you them both from the start, because they both are very important if you plan on learning Korean well. If we put off one, you will not be as strong with it. If we teach both, you will learn at a slower pace at first, but will learn faster later on and the whole time you will be learning more efficiently. So, here it is!

이다 has two polite forms, depending on whether it follows a consonant or vowel, and so does the casual form.

If 이다 follows a consonant, it is spelled 이야.

If 이다 follows a vowel, it is spelled 야.

Lets use the same three examples as above so that you may compare the two forms. The first one used the word 책, or book, in the example. The polite style was 책이에요. Since 책 ends in ㄱ, a consonant, the casual style form should be 이야. If we put this with 책, we get 책이야. 책이야 and 책이에요 mean the exact same thing! The only difference is who we are speaking with. As previous lessons covered, if we speak with someone older or a teacher or anyone who deserves more respect, we would use the polite form 책이에요. If we are speaking with our close friends, we can just use 책이야. That is the only difference! It is something you will get used to as you learn Korean.

The second example sentence was 연필이에요, meaning "It is a pencil." This ends in ㄹ, a consonant, so we will add 이야 to this one as well. 연필이야 is correct. 연필이야 and 연필이에요 also mean the same thing, and are only different because of who we may be speaking to.

차예요 was the final example sentence. 차 ends in a vowel, so we only add 야 instead of 이야. When we form the new sentence, we get 차야. As you can guess, this is equal to 차예요.

I think you probably understand this pretty well by now and are ready to take on anything like this! Here are a few practice problems. If you can get these, then you know the irregular verb 이다 and are one step closer to knowing Korean!

How do you say, "It is a ____"?




This also works for people and their names, as in "It's Joe" or if you were referring to yourself. In the next lesson we will see how to specify who we are referring to.


See Answers Here

Verb - 있다

있다 - Root is 있, Polite style is 있어요, Casual style is 있어. Meaning - To have or To be (location).

있다 is a special verb because it has a couple of different meanings. I feel it is a verb worth mentioning because it is an extremely common verb. Let's look at the two meanings you will see.

To Have

This is a very common verb in all languages. "I have chicken." "I have a car." "Do you have a car?" All of these deal with possesion of something. So does 있다. We could say 차 있어요 to mean "I have a car" or "she has a car". Remember, in Korean the subject may be left out if it can be assumed. If it cannot be, it will be added in, which you will learn soon. This is a fairly simple verb when looking at it from this position, and is easy to understand with this meaning alone. 연필 있어요 could mean "I have a pencil." In written Korean, you can turn this statement into a question asking "Do you have a pencil?" by simply adding a question mark on the end. 연필 있어요? In spoken Korean, it is the tone of your voice that determines this. Nothing else in the sentence changes.

To Be (Location)

있다 can also mean To Be, when used for location. For example, using the same sentence, 연필 있어요? could also mean "Is there a pencil?" For this sentence as it is, it pretty much means the same thing. You are wanting a pencil and are asking if there is one or if they have one or whichever. Later, you will see the difference easier as we learn how to make our sentences longer and more complex. If we said "(In the room) 연필 있어요?" then we can automatically assume it is talking about location. If we say "(Anna) 연필 있어요?" Then we can automatically assume we are talking about possession.

Try the following practice problems. They should not be difficult, but should help you to see more examples of the use of 있다.

Anna 차 있어요?
At-Home 의자 있어요?
2 Blocks away 있어요.

See Answers Here

I think this is the perfect place to stop for now. Also, if you would review and memorize this section on the homework page, it will be of great help to you! It will contain a few basic nouns that I will use often in examples and problems. Once the word has appeared on a homework page, I will not always include the English word next to it. You may always go back and look at anything you need to, and may print whatever you need :) (Homework pages especially!)

Study/Print the Homework Page

Verb - 하다

하다 - root is 하, Polite style is 해요, casual style is 해. Meaning - To Do.

하다 has an irregular spelling when used as you learned in Lesson Three. Keep in mind it is 해요 and not 하요. This verb is not as irregular as with 있다 and 이다, but I would still like to briefly talk about it.

하다 is a verb you will soon know perfectly, as you will see it forms many other verbs. What I mean by this is, many Korean verbs are simply formed by taking a word and simply adding 하다 on the end of it. The verb "To Make a Phone Call" is made by sticking the word for "phone" and the verb 하다 (To Do) together. Phone is 전화. The verb "To Make a Phone Call" is 전화하다.

Shower is 샤워. "To Shower" is simply 샤워하다.

Homework is 숙제. "To Do Homework" is 숙제하다.

This is why you will see this verb a lot. Many verbs are formed using it. When you conjugate them, it is done the same as 하다. 전화해요, 숙제해요, etc. You will have no problem with 하다.


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