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Adjectives - How To Modify
A Noun

Have you ever noticed a word in a sentence that you almost recognized? Perhaps it looked very similar to a verb you had seen before.

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Making The Distinction Between Verb And Adjective

What is an adjective? As of now, I have been calling all 'verb style' words verbs.

However, it is now time to make the distinction between true verbs and adjectives.

Both come at the end of a sentence. Both may take the normal endings you have learned.

An adjective is a word that describes something. Words such as 'to be cold' 'to be clean', and 'to be busy' are all adjectives, because they describe something. Adjectives usually begin with 'to be' in English.

Other words, such as 'to run', 'to swim', and 'to write', are all true verbs. They are actions.

Yet, they both take the same 아요 / 어요 / 해요 endings. We use them almost exactly alike.

There will be many cases when you will need to know whether or not the 'word' you are dealing with is an adjective or a verb. I am going to introduce you to one right now, so hold on!

How To Use An Adjective To Modify A Noun

What exactly do I mean by that?

Well, you can say 'The car is blue' and you can also say 'It is a blue car'. These two sentences mean the exact same thing, except the word 'blue' is used two different ways.

In the first sentence, the whole sentence is based on describing the car, the color in particular.

In the second sentence, the writer may not necessarily be putting the emphasis on the color. The color could just be there to provide additional information. What if I were to say 'A blue car just drove across the street.'

Am I focusing on the fact that a blue car just drove across the street, or is the color of the car simply extra details?

As of now, you have been using the first form of the sentence. Let's look at the following sentence.

The weather is good.

You would probably say 날씨가 좋아요, correct?

What if you wanted to say 'Warm weather is good.'

This gets you into a situation in which you need to use another form of the adjective. You need to modify the noun - weather. It is not enough to say 날씨가 좋아요. 그리고 날씨가 따뜻해요. which means 'The weather is good, and the weather is warm.'

It doesn't quite mean the same thing.

Instead, you would say 따뜻한 날씨가 좋아요. This means 'Warm weather is good.'

How To Move An Adjective Before The Noun

So now you understand exactly what we want to accomplish. Let's learn how to do it.

The structure for this is based off adding ㄴ or 은 to a verb stem.

To know the verb stem, simply drop the 다 from the dictionary form.따뜻하다 is the verb for 'to be warm'. After you drop 다, you are left with 따뜻하. Because it ends in a vowel (ㅏ), you should add the ㄴ ending.


Let's look at an example in which we will add the 은 ending.

Good cars are expensive.

While this may not necessarily be entirely true in every case, it provides a good example to demonstrate this point ;-)

We want to modify the noun 'cars' to specify only 'good cars'. We don't care about 'bad cars' or 'yellow cars', because we are talking about 'good cars'.

좋다 - to be good

If we drop the 다, we are left with 좋. Since 좋 ends in a consonant (ㅎ), you should add the 은 ending. You get 좋은.

좋은 차는 비싸요.

좋은 차 means 'good cars'.

Be careful, don't confuse adding the topic particle 는/은 to the end of a noun with this new ending we attach to the word modifying the noun. They are two separate things.

For a review on topic particles, visit the Korean Particles page

How To Do This With Irregular Adjectives

As you have learned by now, there are usually some kind of irregular verb / adjective.

Irregular ㅂ Ending

For example, the adjective 춥다 is conjugated as 추워요 in the present tense. Somewhere, we lost the ㅂ and gained a 우, right?

In these adjectives that drop the ㅂ, you will do the same when moving the adjective before the noun. You will also include the 우.

추운 날씨

Instead of adding the 어요 ending to추우 as you would in the present tense (추우어요 contracts to 추워요), you simply add the vowel ending form, ㄴ. This results in 추운.

Irregular ㄹ Endings

Another irregular ending is when an adjective ends in ㄹ. Often, the ㄹ is dropped in some forms. An example is 멀다. In the present tense, you cannot notice any change. It stays 멀어요. However, before ㄴ, ㅂ, and ㅅ, the ㄹ is usually omitted.

It can be a little confusing to think of it like that, because you might think 멀 is the base, and so we would add 은, rather than ㄴ. However, try your best to realize that we are truly adding ㄴ, and the only reason the으 part is usually added is simply because we need the extra vowel if it follows a consonant.

Or, if this is easier, simply remember that when moving an adjective before the noun, adjectives that end in ㄹ will drop the ㄹ :-)

멀다 - to be far

In this case, we have 멀. Let's drop the ㄹ and get 머. Now, simply add the proper ending 먼. You could say 먼 집, meaning 'the house that is far away'.

있다 and 없다

You will occasionally run into a time where 있다 and 없다 will be used. One common adjective would be

재미 있다- to be interesting

재미 있다 is an adjective, because it describes something as interesting. However, it ends in 있다, which usually comes with special endings.

With 있다 and 없다 endings, you will add 는 instead of 은 /ㄴ.

The interesting car would be

재미있는 차

Remember, this is pronounced 재미인는, because when ㅅ is followed by ㄴ, it sounds like ㄴ. For a review on irregular pronunciation, visit the Hangul Irregularities page

Practice Moving Adjectives

Now that you know how to move them, try practicing some!











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