Lesson 16: Noun + ~적, ~적으로, ~적이다, ~스럽다

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Vocabulary

~적/~적으로/~적이다
~스럽다

 

Vocabulary

Some of these words are too difficult for you at this level. However, I am introducing them to you in this lesson so you can understand a specific grammatical concept. These words are separate from the other words in the Vocabulary List below.

Click on the English word to see information and examples of that word in use (you probably won’t be able to understand the grammar within the sentences at this point, but it is good to see as you progress through your learning).

A PDF file neatly presenting these words and extra information can be found here.

경제 = economy/economics

Common Usages:
경제적이다 = economical
세계 경제 = world economy
경제학 = economics (the study of economy)

Example:
요즘에 세계 경제는 좋아지고 있어요 = The world economy is getting better these days
아시아의 경제는 요즘에 좋아지고 있어요 = The Asian economy is getting better these days

경제적 = economical

Common Usages:
경제적인 이유 = economic reason
경제적인 결정 = economic decision
경제적인 문제 = economic problem
경제적으로 = economically

Example:
미국은 경제적인 결정을 했어요 = The US made an economical decision

역사 = history

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “역싸”

Common Usages:
역사적이다 = historical
세계역사 = world history
역사가 = historian
역사 수업 = history class

Example:
저는 한국역사에 관심이 있어요 = I am interested in Korean history
우리 학교에서 학생들은 역사와 지리를 같이 배워요 = At our school, students learn history and geography together

역사적 = historical

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “역싸적”

Common Usages:
역사적으로 = historically

Example:
한국과 미국은 역사적으로 좋은 관계가 있다 = Historically, Korea and the US have had a good relationship

과학 = science

Common Usages:
과학적이다 = scientific
과학 기술 = science and technology
과학자 = scientist
과학연구 = science (scientific research)
자연과학 = natural sciences
과학수업 = science class

Example:
한국 학생들은 다른 나라 학생들보다 과학을 더 잘 해요 = Korean students are better at science than students of other countries

과학적 = scientific

Common Usages:
과학적인 설명 = scientific explanation
과학적으로 = scientific

Example:
그들은 그 문제를 과학적으로 풀었다 = They solved that problem scientifically

충동 = impulse/shock

Common Usages:
충동적이다 = impulsive
성적 충동 = sexual urge

Example:
저는 그녀한테 키스하고 싶은 충동을 참지 못했어요 = I couldn’t resist the urge to kiss her

충동적 = impulsive

Common Usages:
충동적으로 = impulsively

Examples:
저는 자주 옷을 충동적으로 사요 = I often buy clothes impulsively
저의 누나는 충동적인 여자예요 = My older sister is an impulsive girl

문화 = culture

Common Usages:
문화적이다 = cultural
문화 차이 = differences in culture
동구문화 = Eastern culture
서구문화 = Western culture

Example:
한국문화는 오래됐고 흥미로워요 = Korean culture is long and interesting

문화적 = cultural

Common Usages:
문화적으로 = culturally

Example:
한국 사람과 중국 사람은 문화적으로 달라요 = Korean and Chinese people are culturally different

민주(주의) = democracy

Common Examples:
민주주의자 = democrat

Example:
북한 사람들은 민주주의가 무엇인지 몰라요 = North Koran people don’t know what democracy is

민주적 = democratic

Common Usages:
민주적으로 = democratically

Examples:
미국은 민주적인 나라예요 = The US is a democratic nation
미국은 대통령을 민주적으로 선출해요 = America elects its president democratically

개인 = individual/personal

Example:
그 헬스장은 개인 사물함을 제공해요 = That gym provides a personal locker

개인적 = individual

Example:
저는 그녀랑 개인적으로 얘기하고 싶어요 = I want to talk to her personally

자연 = nature

Common Usages:
자연스럽다 = natural
자연의 법칙 = the laws of nature
자연과학 = natural science

Example:
사람들은 자연을 지켜야 돼요 = People need to protect nature

자연스럽다 = natural

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “자연스럽따”

자연스럽다 follows the ㅂ irregular

Examples:
그는 한국어를 자연스럽게 말해요 = he speaks Korean naturally
그 여자는 자연스러운 머리를 가지고 있어요 = That girl has natural hair

실망(하다) = disappointment(disappointed)

The noun form of this word translates to “disappointment”

Notes: 실망하다 describes the feeling of being disappointed. 실망스럽다 describes something that is disappointing. 실망스럽다 is sometimes used in sentences that translate to one’s feelings being “disappointed” using the Subject – Object – Adjective form. See Lesson 16.

Examples:
저는 실망했어요 = I was disappointed.
실망하지 마세요 = Don’t be disappointed

실망스럽다 = to be disappointing

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “실망스럽따”

실망스럽다 follows the ㅂ irregular

Notes: 실망하다 describes the feeling of being disappointed. 실망스럽다 describes something that is disappointing. 실망스럽다 is sometimes used in sentences that translate to one’s feelings being “disappointed” using the Subject – Object – Adjective form. See below in this lesson for more information.

Example:
결과는 조금 실망스러웠어요 = The result was a little bit disappointing
저는 결과가 실망스러웠어요 = I was disappointed in the result

사랑(하다) = love/(to love)

Common Usages:
사랑에 빠지다 = to fall in love
서로 사랑하다 = to love each other
사랑니 = wisdom tooth

Example:
저는 그 여자를 사랑해요 = I love that girl
저는 그 여자를 그때만 사랑했어요 = I only loved her at that time
저의 여자 친구가 완벽해서 저는 그녀를 사랑해요 = I love my girlfriend because she is perfect
저는 친구들로부터 사랑을 많이 받았어요 = I received a lot of love from friends
그 남자는 자기 여자 친구를 아직 사랑해요= That man still loves his girlfriend
저는 내일 저의 여자 친구를 위해 사랑편지를 쓸 거예요 = Tomorrow I will write a love letter for my girlfriend

사랑스럽다 = to be lovely

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “사랑스럽따”

사랑스럽다 follows the ㅂ irregular

Common Usages:
사랑스러운 여자 = A lovely girl

Example:
그 여자는 사랑스러워요 = That girl is lovely
우리 딸은 사랑스러운 여자예요 = Our daughter is a loving/lovely girl
저는 그를 사랑스럽게 봤어요 = I looked at him lovingly
Lyrics from ‘강남스타일’: “아름다워 사랑스러워 그래 너 hey 그래 바로 너 hey”

만족(하다) = satisfaction/(to be satisfied)

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “만조카다”

The noun form of this word translates to “satisfaction”

Notes: 만족하다describes the feeling of being satisfied. 만족스럽다 describes something that is satisfactory. 만족스럽다is sometimes used in sentences that translate to one’s feelings being “satisfied” using the Subject – Object – Adjective form. See Lesson 16.

Common Usages:
만족시키다 = to satisfy

Example:
저는 만족해요 = I am satisfied
그는 만족해요 = He is satisfied
부장님을 만족시키는 것은 어려워요 = Is it is difficult to satisfy our boss

만족스럽다 = to be satisfactory

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “만족스럽따”

만족스럽다follows the ㅂ irregular

Notes: 만족하다describes the feeling of being satisfied. 만족스럽다 describes something that is satisfactory. 만족스럽다is sometimes used in sentences that translate to one’s feelings being “satisfied” using the Subject – Object – Adjective form. See Lesson 16.

Examples:
결과는 만족스러웠어요 = The results were satisfactory
저는 음식이 만족스러웠어요 = I was satisfied with the food

Nouns:
관계 = relationship

Example:
미국과 한국의 관계가 좋아요 = Korea and the US have a good relationship
저는 엄마랑 아무 관계도 없어요 = I don’t have any relationship with my mother

스트레스 = stress

Common Usages:
스트레스를 풀다 = to relieve stress
스트레스를 받다 = to be stressed

Example:
운동은 스트레스를 풀어요 = Exercise relieves stress
요즘에 저는 스트레스를 많이 받아요 = These days I am very stressed

연필 = pencil

Notes: 개 can be used as a counter for 연필 for simplicity, but a more specific counter when counting pencils is “자루.”

Example:
연필 몇 개가 있어요? How many pencils do you have?
저는 그 수학문제를 연필과 종이로 풀었어요 = I solved that math problem using a paper and a pencil

색깔 = color

Common Usages:
“색” is used after the words of most colors.
For example: 빨간색 (red), 노란색 (yellow), 녹색 (green)

Example:
보라색은 제가 가장 좋아하는 색깔이에요 = Purple is my favorite color
가을에 잎의 색깔은 변해요  = The color of the leaves changes in the fall
그 여자의 머리 색깔은 자연스러워 = That girl’s hair color is natural

= he, him

Common Usages:
그들 = they

Notes: You should not use “그” when “he” refers to somebody who deserves high respect.

Example:
는 학생이에요 = He is a student

그녀 = she, her

Notes:
You should not use “그녀” when “she” refers to somebody who deserves high respect.

Example:
그녀는 친구랑 밖에 나갔어요 = She went outside with her friends
그녀는 아주 순수해 보여요 = She looks really innocent

결과 = result

Common Usages:
결과가 나오다 = for the results to “come out”
결과가 만족스럽다 = for the results to be satisfactory
결과가 실망스럽다 = for the results to be disappointing

Example:
저의 시험 결과는 좋아요 = The result of my exam is good (my exam results are good)
간부들은 그 결과를 회의에서 발표했어요 = The executives announced that result at the meeting
결과는 만족스러웠어요 = The results were satisfactory
우리가 만족스러운 결과를 받았어요 = We received a satisfactory result

= a dream

Common Usages:
꿈을 꾸다 = to dream
꿈속에 = in one’s dream

Examples:
저는 어젯밤에 이상한 을 꿨어요 = I had a strange dream last night
저의 은 선생님이 되는 것이다 = My dream is becoming a teacher

세상 = world

Common Usages:
세상을 떠나다 = to leave the world/die

Example:
세상에 가장 예쁜 여자는 누구예요? Who is the most beautiful girl in the world?

세계 = world

Common Usages:
세계 평화 = world peace
세계 지도 = world map
세계화 = globalization
현실 세계 = real world
전 세계 = the whole world
세계여행 = world travel

Examples:
요즘에 세계 경제는 좋아지고 있어요 = The world economy is getting better these days
세계에서 온 관광객들은 그 축제에 갔어요 = Tourists from all over the world went to that festival

회화 = conversation

Common Usages:
영어회화 = English conversation
영어회화수업 = English conversation class
영어회화교사 = English conversation teacher
중국어회화 = Chinese conversation

Notes: “회화” is usually placed after the name of a language to refer to the conversation aspect of that language. It is not used to mean “to have a conversation.” The words 이야기하다 or 대화하다 should be used for that meaning.

Examples:
저는 중국어회화 수업을 듣고 있어요 = I am taking a Chinese conversation class
한국 학생들한테 영어회화는 중요하지 않아요 = English conversation isn’t important to Korean students

문자 = text message

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “문짜”

Common Usages:
문자를 보내다 = to send a text message
문자를 받다 = to receive a text message
문자에 답장하다 = to respond to a text message

Example:
저는 저의 여자 친구한테 문자를 보냈어요 = I sent a text message to my girlfriend

가슴 = chest

Common Usages:
닭가슴살 = chicken breast

Notes: Just like in English, this word can be used to refer to the general area of one’s chest, or a woman’s breasts. It can also be used to refer to one’s “heart.”

Example:
한국사람들이 가슴에 털이 없어요 = Korean people don’t have hair on their chest
그 여자가 가슴이 커요 = That woman has big breasts

제목 = title of something (book, etc)

Common Usages:
노래 제목 = the name of a song
책 제목 = the name of a book

Example:
그 책의 제목은 뭐에요? = What is the title of that book?

Verbs:
풀다 = to untie, to unfasten, to loosen

풀다 follows the ㄹ irregular

Common Usages:
스트레스를 풀다 = to relieve stress
문제를 풀다 = to solve a problem
신발끈을 풀다 = to untie one’s shoes

Examples:
운동은 스트레스를 풀어요 = exercise relieves stress
저는 그 수학문제를 연필과 종이로 풀었어요 = I solved that math problem using a paper and a pencil

꿈꾸다 = to dream

Common Usages:
이상한 꿈을 꾸다 = to have a weird dream

Example:
저는 어젯밤에 이상한 꿈을 꿨어요 = I had a strange dream last night

태어나다 = to be born

Common Usages:
태어났을 때부터 = since I was born/my whole life
한국에서 태어나다 = to be born in Korean

Example:
저는 캐나다에서 태어났어요 = I was born in Canada

다니다 = to go somewhere frequently

Common Usages:
돌아다니다 = to wander around
학교를 다니다 = to attend school
다녀오다 = to go, and then come back
다녀오세요 = This can be used to say “goodbye,” as it literally translates to “to go somewhere, wander around, and then come back.”

Example:
어느 학교를 다녀요? = What school do you go to?
우리 딸은 그 고등학교를 다녀요 = Our daughter attends that high school
우리 어머니는 서울대학교를 다녔어요 = Our mom attended Seoul University
저는 6개월 동안 동남아시아에서 돌아다녔어요 = I wandered around South East Asia for 6 months

믿다 = to believe, to trust

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “믿따”

Common Usages:
저를 믿어 주세요 = (Please) Believe me!

Example:
저는 그 사람을 믿을 수 없어요 = I can’t believe/trust that person
옛날에 그리스인들은 여러 가지의 신을 믿었어요 = A long time ago, Greek people believed in a variety of gods

Adjectives:
가깝다 = to be close to, to be near

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “가깝따”

가깝다 follows the ㅂ irregular

Examples:
저의 친구의 집은 가까워요 = My friend’s house is close
저의 친구는 가까운 집에 살아요 = literally – my friend lives in a near by house

힘들다 = to be difficult to do something

Common Usages:
힘든 일 = difficult work
힘들어 죽겠다 = a common phrase people say “It’s so hard it’s like I’m going to die.”

Example:
학생들을 가르치는 것은 힘들어요 = It is hard to teach students
저는 멀리 살고 있기 때문에 집까지 걸어가기 힘들어요 = It is difficult to walk home because I live far
오늘 너무 힘들어서 저는 따뜻한 목욕을 하고 싶어요 = Today was really difficult, so I want to take a warm bath

순수하다 = to be pure

Example:
그녀는 아주 순수해 보여요 = She looks really innocent
하얀색은 가장 순수한 색깔이에요 = White is the purest color

Adverbs and Other Words:
조금 = a little

Common Usages:

조금만 = only a little
조금 있다(가) = in a bit (just a little bit later)

저는 조금 먹었어요 = I ate a little
저는 조금만 먹었어요 = I only ate a little
조금 있다가 가자 = Let’s go in a bit
조금
더 앞으로 가 주세요 = Move a little bit more forward, please

근처 = close/near by

Notes: 근처 and 가깝다 are words that have similar meanings. 근처 is actually a noun but I feel it acts and feels like an adverb. 가깝다 is an adjective, which means it can predicate sentences and describe upcoming nouns. 근처 is most commonly used after a noun (like 위, 안, 밑, 뒤, etc…) to mean “close to…” for example:

대학로 근처에 극장이 많아요 = There are a lot of theaters near 대학로

It can also be used to generally just mean “close” to here. In these cases, 여기 can be omitted:
저의 친구는 (여기) 근처에 살아요 = My friend lives close (to here)

나중에 = later

Common Usages:
나중에 봐요 = See you later?
나중에 하자 = let’s do it later

Example:
저는 숙제를 나중에 할 거예요 = I am going to do my homework later
나중에
밥이 없을 거라서 저는 지금 먹고 싶어요 = There will not be any food later, therefore, I want to eat now

최근에 = recently

Notes: This can be used before a noun to describe it. For example:
최근 날씨가 추워요 = The recent weather is cold

It can also be used with ~에 to generally mean “recently.” For example:
Example: 최근에 사람이 많이 와요 = Recently, many people have been coming

그러나 = but/however

Notes: Used as a conjunctive adverb, usually between two sentences.

Example:
친구가 한국에 왔어요. 그러나, 그녀를 만날 수 없었어요 = My friend came to Korea. However, I couldn’t meet her

For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.

 

~/적으로/적이다

~적 is a common suffix that can be added after some nouns of Chinese origin (적 (的) is of Chinese origin). At first, there is no way to anticipate or expect which nouns this can be added to. As you progress through your Korean studies, you can sort of start anticipating this, but still, the only real way of knowing if ~적 can be added to a particular noun is if you have specifically learned that it can. The goal of this lesson isn’t to teach you all of the words that ~적 can be attached to (that would take forever). Rather, the goal of this lesson is to show you how you can recognize and use these words when you come across them.

Adding ~적 to a noun changes it into a descriptive word that has the meaning of “relating to, or having the properties of’ the original noun. For example:

문화 = culture
문화적 = relating to, or having the properties of culture

경제 = economy
경제적 = relating to, or having the properties of economy

역사 = history
역사적 = relating to, or having the properties of history

However, the translations above are nonsense and a more accurate way to translate words with ~적 is to add “-al” to the English word. For example:

문화 = culture
문화적 = cultural

경제 = economy
경제적 = economical

역사 = history
역사적 = historical

Adding “-al” doesn’t always work with the English word, though. For example:

과학 = science
과학적 = relating to, or having the properties of science
과학적 = scientific

충동 = impulse/shock
충동적 = relating to, or having the properties of impulse
충동적 = impulsive

The main point of this lesson is to teach you how you can understand the meaning of a word ending in ~적 even if you have never seen it before. This still happens to me fairly regularly – I will read something, and come across a word I have never seen before ending in ~적.

For example, if you knew that the word “민주” meant “democracy” What do you think “민주적” would mean? A descriptive word that has the properties of democracy – that would be “democratic.”

민주 = democracy
민주적 = democratic

Though these descriptive words can be used in sentences, it is easy for a beginner to understand them when they are used by adding ~이다 or ~으로.

Adding 으로

Adding ‘으로’ to the end of ~적 changes the word into an adverb. These adverbs usually have the ending ‘ly’ in English. Below are the most common examples of using ~적으로 with example sentences for each:

문화 = culture
문화적 = cultural
문화적으로 = culturally

한국은 지난 50년 동안 문화적으로 많이 변했어요 = Korea has changed a lot culturally in the period of/during/for the past 50 years


경제 = economy
경제적 = economical
경제적으로 = economically

그것은 경제적으로 가능하지 않아요 = That isn’t economically possible


역사 = history
역사적 = historical
역사적으로 = historically

한국과 미국은 역사적으로 좋은 관계가 있다 = Historically, Korea and the US have had a good relationship


과학 = science
과학적 = scientific
과학적으로 = scientifically

그들은 그 문제를 과학적으로 풀었다 = They solved that problem scientifically


충동 = impulse/shock
충동적 = impulsive
충동적으로 = impulsively

저는 자주 옷을 충동적으로 사요 = I often buy clothes impulsively


민주 = democracy
민주적 = democratic
민주적으로 = democratically

Any examples I can make using “민주적으로” require me to use words that you haven’t learned before. Forgive me:

미국은 대통령을 민주적으로 선출해요 = America elects its president democratically


 

 

Adding 이다

Adding ‘이다’ to the end of ~적 turns the word into an adjective that can predicate a sentence or describe an upcoming noun. The translation of these adjectives are usually are the same (in English) as without adding ‘이다.” For example:

문화 = culture
문화적 = cultural
문화적이다 = cultural

캐나다와 미국은 문화적인 차이가 있다 = Canada and the US have a cultural difference
(차이 = difference)


경제 = economics
경제적 = economical
경제적이다 = economical

미국은 경제적인 결정을 했어요 = The US made an economical decision


역사 = history
역사적 = historical
역사적이다 = historical

저 학교는 역사적인 건물이에요 = That school is a historical building


과학 = science
과학적 = scientific
과학적이다 = scientific

이것은 과학적인 문제예요 = This is a scientific problem


충동 = impulsive
충동적 = impulsive
충동적이다 = impulsive

저는 너무 충동적이에요 = I’m too impulsive
Notice that when a word ending in ~적이다 is used to predicate a sentence, 이다 is conjugated as if it were actually 이다.


민주 = democracy
민주적 = democratic
민주적이다 = democratic

미국은 민주적인 나라예요 = The US is a democratic nation


 

A question that always comes up here is – What is the difference between using ~적이다 and just using ~적? For example, what is the difference between these two:

경제적 = economical
경제적이다 = economical

The difference between these is that ~적 is a noun, whereas ~적이다 is an adjective. Sometimes however, nouns can technically be used to sound like adjectives. For example:

That is a big bag

‘Big’ describes the type of bag it is. Big is clearly an adjective which is telling us about the type of bag that it is (that it is big). “Book” is clearly a noun.

However, in the following example:

That is a book bag

In this example, ‘book’ acts as a descriptive word because it describes the type of bag it is (that it is a book bag).

This is usually the only time that ~적 (with nothing following it) is used in Korean. That is, when it is actually a noun, but acting as a descriptive word within a sentence. Because it is usually used as this type of descriptive word, you don’t really need to worry much about the difference between ~적 and ~적이다. Just be aware that ~적이다 is more commonly used, and how they are used within a sentence. That is, when using “~적이다,” 이다 should be conjugated, and when using “~적” nothing needs to be conjugated because it is a noun. For example:

미국은 민주적인 나라예요 = The US is a democratic nation
북한에는 민주적 정부가 없습니다 = There is not a democratic government in North Korea

At this point, I don’t want you to spend too much time dwelling over when you need to use ~적 vs. 적이다 . The purpose of this lesson was to introduce you to what ~적(이다/으로) can do to a word and how it can be used. I’ve created four more examples of ~적 vs. ~적이다 that I would like to show you, but please don’t worry about these too much. If anything, just try to understand the use of ~적(이다) in these sentences:

경제적 문제가 있다 = There is a financial problem
경제적인 문제가 있다 = There is a financial problem

캐나다와 미국은 문화적 차이가 있다 = Canada and the US have a cultural difference
캐나다와 미국은 문화적인 차이가 있다 = Canada and the US have a cultural difference

나는 개인적 문제로 회사를 그만두었다 = I quit the company due to personal reasons (problems)
나는 개인적인 문제로 회사를 그만두었다 = I quit the company due to personal reasons (problems)
(그만두다 = to quit a job or school)

이 건물은 역사적 건물이다 = This building is a historical building
이 건물은 역사적인 건물이다 = This building is a historical building

In all cases above, I would rather use the ~적인 form to describe the upcoming noun. The native Korean speaker beside me says the same thing. However, she also says that the first example of each (the examples just using ~적 instead of ~적인) are also acceptable. In my opinion, the use of ~적인 instead of ~적 is more common in speaking and in printed sources. However, you are more likely to see ~적 in print sources compared to hearing it in spoken Korean. (i.e. ~적이다 is more common than ~적 in all cases. However, when compared only to itself, you are more likely to find ~적 in print than in speech).

Okay, enough of that for now. Let’s talk about something else.

.

 

~스럽다

~스럽다 can also be added to some nouns to change them into an adjective, much like the function of ~적(이다). When doing this, ~스럽다 changes the noun into an adjective that has the “properties” of that noun. The two easiest examples to explain this change are:

사랑 = love
사랑스럽다 = “with the properties of love”

자연 = nature
자연스럽다 = “with the properties of nature”

For example:

그 여자가 아주 사랑스러워요 = That girl is something “with the properties of love”
그 여자의 머리 색깔은 자연스러워 = That girl’s hair color has “the properties of nature”

Of course, those translations are nonsense. A more accurate translation of these words would be:

사랑스럽다 = lovely
자연스럽다 = natural

The only way of knowing if ~스럽다 or ~적 can be added to a word is if you have specifically learned that it can. Because one can never know which words ~스럽다 and ~적 can be added to, these words will always be presented as a separate entry in our vocabulary lists.

Anyways, ~스럽다 can be added to nouns to make that noun a descriptive word:

The two examples above are fairly straight-forward. However ~스럽다 is sometimes added to words that seem to already have an adjective form. For example:

실망 = disappointment
실망하다 = to be disappointed
실망스럽다 = “with the properties of disappointment” (disappointing)

I’ll do the best I can to distinguish between 실망스럽다 and 실망하다 for you.

실망하다 is used to describe a person’s emotions. This could be referring to anybody’s emotions; not necessarily just the speaker’s emotions. For example:

저는 실망했어요 = I was disappointed
우리 아버지는 어제 실망했어요 = Our dad was disappointed yesterday

If you want to say that somebody is disappointed in a person using 실망하다, you must attach the particle ~에게/한테 to the person he/she is disappointed in. For example:

저는 친구에게 실망했어요 = I was disappointed in my friend
우리 아버지는 저에게 실망했어요 = Our dad was disappointed in me yesterday

If you want to say that somebody is disappointed in a non-person using 실망하다, you must attach the particle ~에 to the thing he/she is disappointed in. For example:

저는 영화에 실망했어요 = I was disappointed in the movie
우리 아버지는 식당에 실망했어요 = Our dad was disappointed in the restaurant

Hmmm… Adding ~에게/한테 to a person, and adding ~에 to a non-person. What does this remind you of? Remember, you learned this same rule in Lesson 14 when predicating sentences with passive verbs.

Well, 실망하다 is a verb. In English, it definitely feels like an adjective, but in Korean the dictionary (and the use of the particles ~에게/한테 and ~에) indicate that it is a verb. Here, 실망하다 is a verb (much like passive verbs) that cannot act on an object. Other verbs like this are 자다 (to sleep), 죽다 (to die), etc. This really means very little, and the only thing you need to take from this is:

In order to say one is disappointed, you can use 실망하다:

저는 실망했어요 = I was disappointed
우리 아버지는 어제 실망했어요 = Our dad was disappointed yesterday

In order to say one is disappointed in something/somebody, you can use 실망하다 along with the use of the particles ~에게/한테 (for a person) or ~에 (for a non-person). For example:

저는 친구에게 실망했어요 = I was disappointed in my friend
우리 아버지는 저에게 실망했어요 = Our dad was disappointed in me yesterday

저는 영화에 실망했어요 = I was disappointed in the movie
우리 아버지는 식당에 실망했어요 = Our dad was disappointed in the restaurant

Now, 실망스럽다 usually is not describing one’s emotions. Rather, it is describing something that has the “properties of disappointment.” This usually translates to “disappointing.” For example:

결과는 조금 실망스러웠어요 = The result was a little bit disappointing
그 영화는 조금 실망스러웠어요 = The movie was a little bit disappointing

That being said, you might sometimes hear 실망스럽다 being used like this:

저는 실망스러웠어요

In this case, what do you think this would mean?

I guess in theory this could sometimes mean “I am disappointing.” But very rarely would somebody say that. Most of the time, this sentence would translate to “I am disappointed.”

Wait a second… I thought the word to describe one’s emotions as “disappointed” was “실망하다.” In this sentence, why is “실망스럽다” being used to describe the person’s emotions in this sentence.

It’s not.

If you heard the sentence “저는 실망스럽다” in Korean, it would most likely be from a person describing that something is disappointing, but they have omitted it from the sentence. For example, using the adjective “실망스럽다” you can use the Subject – Object – Adjective form in the following way:

저는 친구가 실망스러워요 = I am disappointed in my friend
(My friend is disappointing, and therefore I am disappointed)

저는 학생들이 실망스러웠어요 = I was disappointed in the students
(My students were disappointing, and therefore I was disappointed)

저는 그 영화가 실망스러웠어요 = I was disappointed in the movie
(The movie was disappointing, and therefore I was disappointed)

If you just walked into a room and said:

저는 실망스러워요~ = I am disappointed (in something….)

Whoever was listening to that sentence would probably say “In what?”
What the speaker has done when saying “저는 실망스러워요” is they have simply omitted the object that they are describing.

Wow… that’s a lot of stuff to wrap your head around. Let’s break it down one more time:

  • 실망하다 is a verb that describes one’s emotions of being disappointed:
    저는 실망했어요 = I was disappointed
  • 실망하다 cannot act on an object (like 자다, 죽다, or any passive verb). Therefore, the following is incorrect:
    저는 학생을 실망했어요
  • Instead, as with passive verbs, the use of ~에게/한테 should be used to indicate that you are disappointed in a person:
    저는 친구에게 실망했어요 = I was disappointed in my friend
  • ~에 can be used to indicate that you are disappointed in a non-person:
    저는 영화에 실망했어요 = I was disappointed in the movie
  • 실망스럽다 is an adjective that describes something which is disappointing:
    그 영화는 조금 실망스러웠어요 = The movie was a little bit disappointing
  • The adjective 실망스럽다 can be used in the subject – object – adjective form to indicate that you were disappointed in something:
    저는 그 영화가 실망스러웠어요 = I was disappointed in that movie
  • In the sentence above, the object can be omitted from the sentence, in which case the speaker is indicating that something was disappointing (and by virtue, he/she is disappointed), but has omitted the noun that is disappointing:
    저는 실망스러웠어요 = I was disappointed (something was disappointing…)

I realize that is incredibly confusing.

This same phenomenon happens with the word 만족스럽다. Look at the following three words:

만족 = satisfaction
만족하다 = to be satisfied
만족스럽다 = “with the properties of satisfaction” (satisfactory)

Just like with 실망하다, 만족하다 is used to describe a person’s emotions. This could be referring to anybody’s emotions; not necessarily just the speaker’s emotions. For example:

저는 만족해요 = I am satisfied
그는 만족해요 = He is satisfied

Again, just like with 실망스럽다, 만족스럽다 is not describing one’s emotions. Rather, it is an adjective that is describing something that has the “properties of satisfaction.” This usually translates to “satisfactory.” For example:

결과는 만족스러웠어요 = The results were satisfactory

만족스럽다 can be used in the Subject – Object – Adjective form to indicate that one is satisfied in something. For example:

저는 결과가 만족스러웠어요 = I was satisfied with the results
저는 음식이 만족스러웠어요 = I was satisfied with the food

In this Subject – Object – Adjective form, the object can be omitted and the speaker can indicate that something was satisfactory (and thus he/she was satisfied). For example:

저는 만족스러웠어요 = I was satisfied (something was satisfying…)

Don’t worry too much about the difference between words like 실망하다 vs. 실망스럽다 and 만족하다 vs. 만족스럽다. I’m really going deep into this, and it is not something you really need to worry about as most Korean people wouldn’t know the difference unless they really think about it.

In other words with -스럽다, the difference is much less ambiguous because the -스럽다 version of the word is an adjective, but the –하다 version is a verb that can act on an object. For example:

저는 그 여자를 사랑해요 = I love that girl
그 여자는 사랑스러워요 = That girl is lovely

Another good example of –스럽다 is:

자랑하다 = to show off (verb)
자랑스럽다 = proud (adjective)

Here as well, 자랑하다 is a verb that can act on a noun, so its usage is very simple:
저는 저의 한국어 실력을 자랑했어요 = I showed off/boasted my Korean skills

자랑스럽다 is usually used in the Subject – Object – Adjective form to indicate who somebody is proud of. For example:

저는 저의 딸이 아주 자랑스러워요 = I am very proud of my daughter
저는 학생들이 자랑스러워요 = I am proud of the students

It’s also good to recognize that because all of these ~스럽다 words are adjectives, they can also describe an upcoming noun (just like any other adjective) by placing ~ㄴ/은 to the stem of the word. For example:

우리 딸은 사랑스러운 여자예요 = Our daughter is a loving/lovely girl

Also, ~게 can be added to the end of the stem of –스럽다 to change the word into an adverb. For example:

그는 한국어를 자연스럽게 말해요 = he speaks Korean naturally
저는 그를 사랑스럽게 봤어요 = I looked at him lovingly
그는 실망스럽게 행동했어요 = He acted disappointingly (in a disappointing way)
저는 일을 만족스럽게 끝냈어요 = I finished the work/job satisfactorily (in a satisfactory way)

That’s it!

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