Lesson 14: Korean Passive Verbs

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Vocabulary
Introduction

Korean Passive Verbs – 하다 to 되다
Korean Passive Verbs – 하다 to 받다
Korean Passive Verbs – Non-하다 verbs
Korean Passive Verbs – 내다 and 나다
Korean Passive Verbs – Normal verbs

 

Vocabulary

The vocabulary is separated into nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs for the purpose of simplicity.

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.

 

Nouns:
냄새 (나다) = smell

Common Usages:
냄새가 나다 = for something a smell to come out
냄새가 지독하다 = for something to smell terrible
냄새를 맡다 = to smell (verb) a smell (noun)
냄새를 맡아봐 = try smelling this

Notes: It is hard for an English speaker to understand this word. “냄새” is a noun that means “smell.” If you want to say that something is smellY (adjective), you need to use the verb 나다, which is very confusing. 나다 acts as a passive verb which is introduced in Lesson 14.

For a positive/good smell, the word “향” is more commonly used.

Examples:
그 방에서 냄새가 나요 = That room is smelly (A smell is coming out of that room)
김치 찌개 냄새 같아요 = It smells like Kimchi Jjigae

청소기 = vacuum cleaner

Notes: Adding “기” after many nouns changes the word to a machine. “청소기” is literally “cleaning machine”

Example:
저는 거실을 청소기로 청소했어요 = I cleaned the living room with a vacuum cleaner

얼굴 = face

Common Usages:
얼굴을 씻다 = to wash your face
얼굴이 빨갛다 = for one’s face to be red

Examples:
저는 그 사람의 얼굴을 못 봤어요 = I couldn’t see that person’s face
얼굴
이 왜 이렇게 빨개요? = Why is your face so red?
제가 세수를 하지 않았기 때문에 얼굴이 더러워 보여요 = My face looks dirty because I didn’t wash it

시장 = market

Common Usages:
주식시장 = stock market
남대문 시장 = Namdaemun market

Examples:
저는 이 사과를 시장에서 샀어요 = I bought these apples at the market
토론토는 동양시장이 많아요 = Toronto has a lot of Eastern (Oriental) markets
저는 내일 시장에서 사과를 팔 거예요 = I will sell apples at the market tomorrow
동대문시장에서 아주머니가 많아요 = There are a lot of older women in Dongdaemun market

= body

Common Usages:
몸무게 = body weight
잇몸 = gums (in your mouth)
몸이 아프다 = for one’s body to be sore (to be sick)
몸이 좋다 = to be healthy (literally, for one’s body to be good)
몸매 = one’s figure
몸살 = for one’s body to be aching
알몸 = naked

Examples:
저의 이 너무 아파서 못 가요 = I can’t go because my body is so sore
양복을 입은 후에 이 따뜻해졌어요 = After I put on a suit, my body got warm
무게가 몇 킬로예요? = How much do you weigh?
무게가 몇 킬로가 나가요? How much do you weigh?
저는 수건으로 몸을 닦았어요 = I wiped my body with a towel
잠을 못 자면 다음 날에 이 피곤해져요 = When/if you don’t sleep well, the next day you (your body) will be tired

= light/fire

Common Usages:
불이 나가다 = for the lights to go out
불을 끄다 = to turn off the lights
불꽃 = flame
불꽃놀이 = fireworks

Examples:
저는 을 껐어요 = I turned the lights off
옛날 사람들은 을 발견했어요 = People from a long time ago discovered fire
을 켜도 돼요? = Can I turn the lights on?

숙제 = homework

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “숙쩨”

Examples:
저는 숙제를 하기 싫어요 = I don’t like doing homework
저는 숙제를 끝냈어요 = I finished my homework
저는 저의 숙제를 가져왔어요 = I brought my homework
그 학생은 숙제를 가져오지 않았어 = That student bring take his homework
저는 숙제를 나중에 할 거예요 = I am going to do my homework later
저는 숙제를 다 했어요 = I did all of my homework
저는 숙제를 빨리 했어요 = I did my homework quickly
저는 숙제를 끝내고 나서 집으로 갈 거예요 = I will finish my homework and then go home
저는 선생님에게 숙제에 대한 설명을 요청했어요 = I asked the teacher for an explanation of the homework

기억 = memory

The verb form of this word translates to “remember”

Common Usages:
기억력 = one’s memory ability
기억 나다 = for a memory to “come up” – (“to remember”)
기억 안 나다 = to not remember
기억 세포 = Memory cell

Notes: The word 나다 is often used to indicate that a memory “comes” up. See Lesson 14 for more information.

Examples:
저는 그 사람의 이름이 기억 안 나요 = I can’t remember that person’s name
행복했던 기억을 생각하고 있다 = I’m thinking about happy memories
나는 그때 기억이 안 났어 = I didn’t remember (that) at that time
저는 선생님이 그것을 언제 가르쳤는지 기억 안 나요 = I don’t remember when the teacher taught that
저는 그 학생이 어느 대학교를 다니는지 기억 안 나요 = I don’t remember which university that student attends
선생님이 저에게 그 질문을 물어본 것이 기억 안 나요 = I don’t remember the teacher asking that question to me

상자 = box

Common Usages:

나무 상자 = wooden box

Notes: The Korean pronunciation of “box” (박스) is often used as well

Example:
저는 핸드폰을 상자에 넣었어요 = I put the phone in the box

바람 = wind

Common Usages:
바람이 불다 = for wind to be blowing
바람을 쐬다 = to go out and enjoy the breeze
칼 바람 = a very cold wind (literally, “knife wind”)
비바람 = rainstorm

Example:
바다 근처에 바람이 세게 불어요 = The wind is strong near the ocean
문이 바람에 닫혔어요 = The door was closed by the wind

세금 = tax

Common Usages:
세금을 내다 = to pay taxes
세금을 징수하다 = to collect taxes
소득세 = income tax

Example:
한국에서는 세금이 물건 값에 포함돼요 = In Korea, tax is included in the price of goods
이 값은 세금을 포함해요 = This price includes tax
세금
은 값에 포함된다 = The tax is included in the price

Verbs:
켜다 = to turn on

The passive form of this word is 켜지다 (to be turned on)

Example:
저는 아까 컴퓨터를 켰어요 = I turned the computer on earlier

끄다 = to turn off

The passive form of this word is “꺼지다” (to be turned off)

끄다 follows the ㅡ irregular

Examples:
저는 불을 껐어요 = I turned the lights off
저는 TV를 껐어요 = I turned the TV off

숨다 = to hide oneself

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “숨따”

Common Usages:
숨어 있다 = to be hidden

Notes: This is used when somebody hides his/herself. When hiding an object, 숨기다 is used.

Example:
저는 큰 박스 뒤에 숨었어요 = I hid behind a big box

숨기다 = to hide an object

Notes: When hiding oneself, the word 숨다 is used. For example: 저는 박스 뒤에 숨었어요

However, when hiding an object, 숨기다 is used.

Examples:
저는 반지를 박스 안에 숨겼어요 = I hid the ring in a box
그녀는 아이가 죽었다는 사실을 숨겼어요 = She hid (the fact that) her child died

고장내다 = to break

The passive form of this word is “고장 나다” (to be broken)

Notes: The passive form of this word is more commonly used than the active version.

Example:
저는 컴퓨터를 고장 냈어요 = I broke the computer

놓다 = to lay an object down

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “노타”

The passive form of this word is “놓이다” (to be placed on something)

Examples:
펜을 탁자에 놓으세요! = Put your pens on the table!
저는 병을 탁자에 놓았어요 = I put the bottle on the table

눕다 = to lie down

눕다 follows the ㅂ irregular

Common Usages:
누워 있다 = to be lying down
누워서… 하다 = to do something while lying down

Notes: The word 눕히다 is used to indicate that you laid another person down

Examples:
저는 침대에 잠깐 고 싶어요 = I want to lie down for just a second
저는 누워서 책을 읽었어요 = I lied down and read a book
피곤한 사람은 침대에 누워서 잤어요 = The tired person lied on the bed and slept

존경하다 = to respect

Notes: When one receives respect, 존경 받다 is used

Examples:
아이들은 자기 부모님을 존경해야 돼요 = Children must respect their parents
저는 저의 형을 존경해요 = I respect my brother
만약 제가 선생님이라면 학생들에게 존경을 받고 싶을 거예요 = If I were a teacher, I would want to be respected by students

대체하다 = to replace

The noun form of this word translates to “replacement”

Examples:
회사는 기계를 대체했어요 = The company replaced the machine
교실에서 선생님들을 컴퓨터로 대체할 수 없어요 = You can’t replace teachers with computers in the classroom

제공하다  = to provide, to offer

Examples:
그 헬스장은 개인 사물함을 제공해요 = That gym provides a personal locker
우리 학교는 외국 선생님들한테 집을 제공해요 = The school provides housing to foreign teachers

포함하다 = to include

Common Usages:
~를/을 포함해서 = including…
우리를 포함해서 = including us

See Lesson 71 for more information

Example:
이 가격은 세금을 포함해요 = this price includes tax
이 뷔페가격은 음료수를 포함해요 = This buffet price includes dinks
나를 포함해서 네 명이 있어요 = There is four people including me

내다 = to make something come up/arise/occur

Notes: Words ending in 내다 can usually be switched to end in 나다 to change the meaning from active to passive (and vice-versa). However, not all words ending in 나다 have an equivalent 내다 verb (and vice-versa). 나다 and 내다 can be used as standalone verbs as well as be attached to other words. Both of their meanings are very complex and depend heavily on the situation. When used by itself, it usually translates to “pay” or to “submit” For example:

돈을 내다 = to pay (money)
세금을 내다 = to pay taxes
신청 서류를 내다 = to submit an application form

However, it can be found attached to many words that also have a 나다 (passive) equivalent:
저는 컴퓨터를 고장 냈어요 = I broke the computer
저는 숙제를 끝냈어요 = I finished my homework

싸우다 = to fight

Common Usages:
싸움 = a fight
싸우지 마사요 = Don’t fight

Example:
그는 여자 친구랑 지금 싸우고 있어요 = He is fighting with his girlfriend now
교실에서 싸우지 마세요= Don’t fight in the classroom
우리 할아버지는 한국전쟁에서 싸웠어요 = Our grandfather fought in the Korean War

속이다 = to trick somebody

The passive form of this word is “속다” (to be tricked)

Example: 저는 친구를 속였어요 = I tricked my friend

감동하다 = to impress

The noun form of this word translates to “impression”

Notes: More commonly used as 감동받다 (to be impressed) and 감동시키다 (to impress)

Example:
저는 당신의 말에 감동받았어요 = I was impressed with what you said
저는 학생들에게 감동을 크게 받았어요 = I was greatly impressed by the students

서다 = to stand

Common Usages:
서서 … 하다 = to do something while standing
서 있다 = to be standing

Notes: To indicate that you went from the sitting/lying down position to standing, the word “일어나다” (to get up) should be used.

Examples:
우리는 한 시간 동안 줄에 있었어요 = We were standing in the line for an hour
저는 줄에 서 순서를 기다렸어요 = I stood in line and waited for my turn

Passive Verbs:
잠기다 = to be locked

The active form of this word is “잠그다” (to lock)

Example:
문이 잠겨 있어요 = The door is locked

켜지다 = to be turned on

The active form of this word is “켜다” (to turn on)

Example:
컴퓨터가 켜져 있어요 = The computer is (in the state of being) on

꺼지다 = to be turned off

The active form of this word is “끄다” (to turn off)

Example:
TV가 꺼져 있어요 = The TV is (in the state of being) off

나다 = to have something you didn’t have

Notes: Words ending in 나다 can usually be switched to end in 내다 to change the meaning from passive to active (and vice-versa). However, not all words ending in 나다 have an equivalent 내다 verb (and vice-versa). 나다 and 내다 can be used as standalone verbs as well as be attached to other words. Both of their meanings are very complex and depend heavily on the situation. I discuss this more deeply in this lesson. Furthermore, a detailed list of many ways 나다 can be used is shown in Lesson 128.

Common Usages:
열이 나다 = to have a fever (for a fever to come up)
생각이 나다 = to think of (for a thought to come up)
기억이 나다 = to remember(for a memory to come up)
화가 나다 = to get angry (for anger to come up)
질투가 나다 = to get jealous (for jealously to come up)
짜증이 나다 = to be annoyed (for annoyance to come up)

Examples:
좋은 생각이 났어요! = I have a good idea
우리 아들은 열이 났어요 = My son has a fever

고장나다 = to be broken

The active form of this word is “고장 내다” (break)

Example:
컴퓨터는 고장 났어요 = the computer is broken

화나다 = to be mad

Example:
저의 여자 친구는 저한테 () 났어요 = My girlfriend was mad at me
선생님을 존경하지 않으면 나는 화가 거야 = If you don’t respect your teacher, I will be mad

짜증나다 = to be annoyed

Example:
저는 그가 너무 짜증나요 = I am annoyed at him

수압이 너무 낮아서 우리 집에서 샤워를 하면 짜증이 나요
= It is annoying showing at my house because the water pressure is too low

놓이다 = for an object to be lying down

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “노이다”

The active form of this word is “놓다” (to put down)

Common Usages:
놓여 있다 = for something to be “lying” somewhere

Examples:
펜이 탁자에 놓여 있어요 = The pen is on the table (lying on the table)
책상에 책 몇 권이 놓여 있어요 = There are some books on the desk

열리다 = to be open

The active form of this word is “열다” (to open)

Common Usages:
열려 있다 = to be open

Examples:
문이 열려 있어요 = The door is open(ed)
문이 열려 있을 것 같아요 = The door will probably be open

닫히다 = to be closed

The active form of this word is “닫다” (to close)

Common Usages:
닫혀 있다 = to be closed

Examples:
문이 닫혀 있었어요 = The door was closed
문은 바람에 닫혔어요 = The door was closed by the wind

속다 = to be tricked

The pronunciation of this word is closer to “속따”

The active form of this word is “속이다” (to trick)

Example:
나는 친구에게 속았어요 = I was tricked by my friend

Adverbs:
자꾸 = repeatedly

Example:
저에게 왜 자꾸 전화해요? = Why do you keep calling me over and over?

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

 

Introduction

This lesson contains a lot of boring, confusing grammar. I am warning you now.

If you looked at the vocabulary list of this lesson before reading this, you may have noticed something strange with some of the words. A lot of the words look very similar to each other. The reason for this is because today you will learn about passive verbs in Korean. Though I studied passive verbs very early in my studies, it is something that actually took me a year to fully grasp – and not because it is incredibly difficult, but rather that I never received any proper instruction regarding passive verbs.

I don’t really like explaining English grammar too much in my lessons. However, an understanding of what passive verbs are and how they are used in English sentences will help you with your understanding of their equivalent Korean sentences.

An active verb is used when a subject does an action. For example:

In the examples below, the subject is “I”

I eat
I learn
I open

Active verbs often act on an object. For example:

The word “object” here refers to the part of speech that a verb can act on. Sometimes learners get confused and think that an object means “a thing,” for example; “a pencil” or “a door.” In theory, any noun can be an object of a sentence – including people or abstract ideas that are not considered “objects” in the literal (non-language) sense. For example, the objects are underlined in the following sentences:

I love my father
He wants respect

I eat rice
I learn Korean
I open the door

Some active verbs by their nature cannot act on an object. For example, the active verbs are underlined in the examples below:

I went to the park
I arrived at the park

“The park” in the above examples are not objects. The verb is not acting on that part of speech. They just indicate places within the sentence.

In all of the above examples, regardless of if there is an object in the sentence or not, the subject performs the action. These are all active sentences.

Passive sentences indicate that an action is performed on the subject. For example:

I was kicked
The door was opened
The hamburger was eaten

In English, passive verbs feel like adjectives because their sentence structures are similar. For example:

I was handsome
The door was big
The hamburger was delicious

Let’s look at an active verb and passive verb being used in similar sentences:

1) I opened the door
2) The door was opened

In the first example “I” am the subject and I performed the action (opening) on the object (the door).
In the second example, “the door” is the subject and the action (opening) was performed on it.

Below are some more active-passive pairs to help you see how they differ from one-another:

All of the examples below are in the present tense. In the present tense, these passive sentences (just like most plain sentences used in the present tense) sound unnatural. For example, I would never say “I turn the computer on.” However, I am using the present tense simply because this is the basic “raw” form of the sentence. They could be applied to the past, the future, or other complicated things could be applied to them.

I turn the computer on
The computer is turned on

I lock the door
The door is locked

I respect my friend
My friend is respected

I cooked the rice
The rice is cooked

Passive verbs (like adjectives) cannot act on an object. For example:

I opened the door (active verb) – correct
The door was opened me (passive verb) – incorrect
The door was big me (adjective) – incorrect

However, sentences with passive verbs can include more information to indicate by whom (or by what) the action was performed. For example:

The door was opened by me
The door was opened by the wind
The door was opened by the guard

I’ll do the same with all of the passive sentences that I showed you earlier:

The computer was turned on by me
The door was locked by the teacher
My friend is respected by many people
The rice was cooked by my mother

Because passive verbs cannot act on an object, you will never see ~을/를 in a sentence predicated by a passive verb in Korean. Remember, ~을/를 is used to mark objects in Korean sentences – and therefore their usage is impossible with passive verbs.

This is probably the most important paragraph in the entire lesson; it is usually unnatural to use passive verbs in Korean. In almost every situation, it is more natural to use the active form of a verb. For example, instead of saying “the house is built” it is more natural to say “somebody built the house” (which implies that the house is now built).

Nonetheless, understanding how passive verbs are used in Korean is crucial to your development.

There are many ways to make a passive sentence in Korean. In this lesson, we will look at the different ways this can be done.

It is also important to remember that passive verbs are verbs – not adjectives. Korean learners often think they are adjectives because they look, sound and feel similar to adjectives and they never act on objects. Always remember that passive verbs are verbs. This is important because you must conjugate them as verbs and not as adjectives.

Alright, let’s get started.

.

 

Korean Passive Verbs – 하다 to 되다

I’ve told you twice before that verbs ending in 하다 can usually be separated from 하다 to create a noun form of that verb. 하다 then has the meaning of “do”:

나는 일했어 = I worked
which has the same meaning of:
나는 일을 했어 = I did work/I worked

When dealing with 하다 verbs, most of the time you can simply exchange 하다 with 되다, to make that verb passive. For example:

포함하다  = to include
포함되다 = to be included

제공하다 = to provide
제공되다 = to be provided

대체하다 = to replace
대체되다 = to be replaced

You can use passive verbs to create sentences that have similar meaning to sentences with each respective active verb. Structurally the sentences will be different however, because the passive version a verb cannot act on an object. For example:

이 값은 세금을 포함해요 = This price includes tax
세금은 포함돼요 = The tax is included

저는 점심을 준비했어요 = I prepared (the) lunch
점심이 준비되었어요 = (The) lunch was prepared

회사는 기계를 대체했어 = The company replaced the machine
기계는 대체되었어 = The machine was replaced

Adding to creates either 되어 or with no difference in meaning. (For example, 되다 in the present tense can either be 돼 or 되어. In the past tense, it can either be 되었다 or 됐다.

Often the speaker wants to indicate by whom/what the lunch was prepared, or by whom/what the machine was replaced. For example:

– The lunch was prepared by the school
– The machine was replaced by the company

In the examples above, although we are still using a passive verb, information about how the passive verb occurred is given. This is an example of when it is much more common to use the active form over the passive form in Korean. In Korean (and most likely in English as well), it would be much more natural to say “I prepared the lunch” instead of “The lunch was prepared by me.” Nonetheless, the grammar within these sentences is important, so I need to continue teaching it to you here.

In order to create these sentences, you need to remember that sentences with a predicating passive verb can NOT have an object – which means that you CANNOT attach ~를/을 to “the school” or “the company.” For example, the sentence below would be ridiculous and probably wouldn’t be understood at all:

점심이 학교를 준비되었어요

In these types of sentences, in order to indicate how/by which means the passive verb occurs, you need to use different particles. If this part of a sentence is a person, it is acceptable to attach the particle “에게” to the noun. For example:

그것은 이해되었어 = It was understood
그것은 학생들에게 이해되었어 = It was understood by the students

집은 청소되었어 = The house was cleaned
집은 아버지에게 청소되었어 = The house was cleaned by my dad

Again, I highly suggest that you refrain from using this passive voice in Korean. I need you to understand what is being introduced here so I can build on it in later lessons. The two sentences above would be better said as:

학생들은 그것을 이해했어요 = The students understood that
아버지는 집을 청소했어요 = My dad cleaned the house

The particle ~에 can be used when this part of a sentence is a non-person. For example:

점심이 학교에 준비되었어요 = The lunch was provided by the school

The particle “~에 의해” can also be attached to nouns that are non-people in these situations, but the distinction between ~에 and ~에 의해 isn’t formally introduced until Lesson 78, Since I’m advising against using this passive form, it’s best to focus on the current presentation and not skip ahead.

Also, remember the meaning of ~(으)로 which you learned in Lesson 12. You learned that ~(으)로 can be used to indicate with what tool/device/method/material something is carried out. This means that you can say something like:

저는 집을 청소기로 청소했어요 = I cleaned the house with a vacuum cleaner

But, if you wanted to say that sentence by using the passive verb (to be cleaned), you would have to again use ~(으)로 as the particle attached to 청소기 because that was the method/tool that was used for it to be cleaned:

집은 청소기 청소되었어요 = the house was cleaned by a vacuum cleaner, whereas:
집은 청소기 청소되었어요 = is not correct, although most Korean people would probably understand you.

Wow. Confusing.

It’s confusing for me, I’m sure it is confusing to you, and it is actually confusing to Korean people as well – so don’t get too hung up on the difference between ~에/에게 /~(으)로 in these situations because, as I said – Korean people don’t use passive verbs as much as they use active verbs.

What do you need to take from all of this? Because it is so confusing, I wrote the main points that you should know:

  1. Clauses ending in a passive verb can never have a word with an object marker (를/을) within the clause.
  2. Passive verbs are conjugated just like active verbs, even though they feel like adjectives
  3. Though clauses ending in a passive verb cannot have an object in the clause, other particles can be attached to nouns to indicate how the passive action occurred. These particles are usually:
    1. 에 – to indicate that something occurred due to a non-person
    2. 에 의해 – to indicate that something occurred due to a non-person, but we haven’t studied this specifically yet
    3. 에게 – to indicate that something occurred due to a person
    4. ~(으)로 – to indicate the tool/method in which something occurred

One other thing. Just because an noun in a passive sentence has the particle ~에 (or ~에게, or ~에 의해 for that matter) attached to it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that is the noun that caused the passive verb to occur. ~에 could also have its more familiar function of designating a place. For example, we saw this sentence before:

세금은 포함돼요 = the tax is included

I could put the noun “값” in the sentence to indicate the location of where the tax is included in.

세금은 값에 포함된다 = The tax is included in the price

Notice in the example above that the particle “~에” is not denoting that the tax is included by the price. Rather, it is included in the price. Being able to recognize things like this just takes practice and your understanding of this will increase as you progress through your studies. For now, try not to focus too much on the tiny parts of this lessons, and focus more on the big-picture.

 

 

 

 

Korean Passive Verbs – 하다 to 받다

In addition to the usual way of switching 하다 with 되다 to make a passive verb – there is another (similar) way of making these verbs passive. This can only be done with certain verbs (usually acting on people), and is done by switching 하다 with 받다 (to receive). For example:

저는 저의 형을 존경해요 = I respect my brother
저의 형은 존경 받아요 = My brother is respected (literally-my brother receives respect)

The same rules apply with ~에 and ~에게 as described previously:

교장선생님은 선생님들에게 존경받아요 = The principal is respected by the teachers
나는 너의 말에* 감동받았어 = I was impressed with what you said
*Remember that 말하다 means “to speak.” By removing 하다, 말 becomes the noun form of “speak,” which is ‘words/the thing you said/what you said/etc…”

 

Korean Passive Verbs – Non-하다 verbs

So far you have only learned how to change ~하다 verbs into the passive tense. There are, of course many verbs in Korean that don’t end in ~하다. When dealing with words not ending in 하다, there is often a separate (but very similar) word that can be used to indicate the passive voice. These words will always be presented separately in the vocabulary lists. Here are some examples:

켜다 = to turn on
켜지다 = to be turned on

끄다 = to turn off
꺼지다 = to be turned off

닫다 = to close
닫히다 = to be closed

The words above are just some examples of active verbs and their passive equivalents. There are many more of these active-passive pairs, and unfortunately there is no way to instinctively know which one is active and which one is passive. In all of the examples above, the longer word (i.e. the word with one more syllable) is the passive verb. However, sometimes the longer word is the active verb, for example:

붙다 = to be attached
붙이다 = to attach

끓다 = to be boiling
끓이다 = to boil

If you look at these examples, you might think “Oh, so maybe the pattern is – if there is an active-passive pair where “이” is the difference between the two, then the longer word will be the active verb.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Here are two other examples of active-passive pairs that show the opposite:

쓰다 = to write
쓰이다 = to be written

보다 = to see
보이다 = to be seen

There are many instances of these active-passive pairs in Korean, and there is no way to know which one is active or which one is passive unless you have specifically memorized it. This is just something that you will have to memorize whenever you come across it. The only thing that is helpful is that the active verb usually looks very similar to the passive verb – with just one syllable added or deleted from the active form.  

You can treat these passive verbs just like the passive verbs you learned in the previous two sections (되다 and 받다 verbs). Make sure you use the passive verb and not the active verb (for example – use 닫히다 instead of 닫다 in a passive sentence)

밥은 학교에 의해 제공된다 = food is provided by the school
밥은 학교에 의해 제공되었다 = food was provided by the school
문은 바람에 의해 닫혔어요 = The door was closed by the wind

When dealing with these passive verbs however, you need to think about whether or not that passive verb is in the state of something. For example, every passive verb you learned in the previous two sections (하다 to 되다 and 하다 to 받다) were not passive verbs in the state of something. For example, again:

나는 너의 말에 감동받았어 = I was impressed with what you said

Simply means that you were impressed. It does not mean that you are in the state of being impressed. But, in these sentences:

The computer is on.
The TV is off
The door is locked

All of those nouns are in the state of something. The computer is in the state of being on, the TV is in the state of being off, and the door is in the state of locked. To indicate that something “is in the state” of something in Korean, you must add ~아/어 있다 to the passive verb. For example:

As you know, 있다 has many usages and meanings in Korean. Sometimes 있다 is a verb, and sometimes it is an adjective. When used as ~아/어 있다 as described here, 있다 is a verb. For now, this is only important to you when conjugating in the plain form. In the future, there will be other times when this distinction will be important.

저는 컴퓨터를 켰어요 = I turned the computer on
컴퓨터가 켜져 있어요 = The computer is (in the state of) on

저는 TV를 껐어요 = I turned the TV off
TV가 꺼져 있어요 = The TV is (in the state of) off

저는 문을 잠갔어요 = I locked the door
문이 잠겨 있어요 = The door is (in the state of) locked

Notice that ~이/가 is used in the passive sentences above. In most cases, this is usually more natural with these types of sentences. Don’t worry about that for now (I’ll discuss it in Lesson 17), and focus more on how the verbs (both active and passive) are being used.

I get a lot of people who are confused about this “state” nonsense of these passive verbs. I would like to fully describe how these words can be used to describe that something is in a “state” and compare them to the same passive verb that is not in that state. For example:

저는 문을 닫았어요 = I closed the door
This sentence is an active sentence. It has an active verb, and has an object. This should be no problem.

문이 닫혔어요 = The door was closed
This is a passive sentence. It is indicating that at some point in the past, the door was closed by something or someone. This is the exact passive equivalent of “저는 문을 닫았어요” – the only difference is that we have no idea who/what closed the door. Though you could assume that the door (after that point) was in the state of “closed” this sentence does not specifically indicate that.

문이 바람에 닫혔어요 = The door was closed by the wind
This is essentially the same sentence as above, but in this case we know how the door was closed. Again, though you could assume that the door (after that point) was in the state of “closed” this sentence does not specifically indicate that.

문이 닫혀 있었어요 = The door was closed
This is another passive sentence, but notice the difference between this sentence and the two examples above. Here, the sentence is specifically indicating that the door was in the state of “closed”. Here, we have absolutely no idea if something/somebody had opened it recently; all we know is that, at that time, the door was not open.

저는 문을 닫아요 = I close the door
This is another active sentence with an active verb. Though it makes sense, it probably wouldn’t be said like this unless there was some sort of adverb or other information in the sentence (for example, “I close the door every day at 9:00pm”)

문이 닫혀요 = The door closes
While technically correct, you would need some other information to make this sentence more natural (for example, “the door closes every day at 9:00pm”). This is the exact passive equivalent of “저는 문을 닫아요” – except for that in this example, there is no information given as to who/what will close the door. The sentence is not referring to the door being in the state of “closed”, but rather, indicating that door somehow closes.

문이 닫혀 있어요 = The door is closed
Notice the difference between this example and the one above. This sentence is not referring to the door closing. It is only stating that the door is currently in the state of “closed”

문이 닫힐 거예요 = The door will close
Again, this example is referring to the door somehow closing. It is the exact passive equivalent of “저는 문을 닫을 거예요” – except for that in this example, there is no information given as to who/what will close the door.

문이 닫혀 있을 거예요 = The door will be closed
This is a passive sentence that is indicating that the door will be in the state of “closed” in the future. It does not indicate who/what will close the door; all we know is that, at that time in the future, the door will be closed.

Just because an active verb has a passive equivalent, it does not mean you can attach ~아/어 있다 to that word to describe that it is in the “state” of something. Typically this is only done for words like on, off, open, closed, etc…

A good example of this not working with a passive verb is with 속이다 and 속다.

속이다 = to trick somebody
속다 = to be tricked

나는 친구를 속였어 = I tricked my friend
This is an active sentence.

나는 친구에게 속았어 = I was tricked by my friend
This is a passive sentence

나는 속아 있다…
… I am… in the state of being tricked.
This doesn’t make sense. Once you’re tricked, you’re tricked. You do not continue being in the state of “tricked” like a door continues to be open once it is open.

Here’s an example that I am including just because I have the audio for it. I’m going to get more example sentences for this lesson shortly with more audio clips:

펜이 탁자에 놓여 있었어요
= The pen was (in the state of) laying on the table

 

 

Korean Passive Verbs – 내다 and 나다

There are quite a few words in Korean that can either end in 나다 or 내다.

These two play the same role as 되다 and 하다, where a word ending in 나다 is passive and a word ending in 내다 is active. For example:

끝내다 = to finish
끝나다 = to be finished

나다 and 내다 can actually be used as standalone verbs as well as be attached to other words. Both of their meanings are very complex and depend heavily on the situation, but their general meanings are:

나다 = for something to come up/arise/occur
내다 = to make something come up/arise/occur

However, not all words ending in 나다 have an equivalent 내다 verb (and vice-versa). For example, 어긋나다 is a word (to be out of step with something) but 어긋내다 is not a word. At any rate, the two most common words ending in 나다/내다 are:

끝내다 = to finish
끝나다 = to be finished

고장 내다 = to break
고장 나다 = to be broken

It is very common to use the past tense conjugation of both of these words in the passive voice even when the thing is currently broken/finished. In English, we would say these sentences in the present tense, but in theory the thing/task was broken/finished in the past. For example:

숙제는 끝났어요 = My homework is finished
컴퓨터는 고장 났어요 = The computer is broken

It is possible to use the active voice to express these sentences, but the use of “나다” (as seen above) is more common than the use of 내다 in these cases. Nonetheless, the following are acceptable:

저는 숙제를 끝냈어요 = I finished my homework
저는 컴퓨터를 고장냈어요 = I broke the computer

As I said before, 나다 itself means “for something to come up/arise/occur” which means it can be used in a lot of sentences to indicate that some noun “comes up”. Three common ways to use 나다 are with 기억 (a memory) with 생각 (a thought) and with 냄새 (a smell):

아! 그것이* 기억났다! = Ah! I remember that! (Literally – my memory came up)
좋은 생각이* 났어요! = I have a good idea (Literally – a good idea came up)
그 가방에서 냄새가 났어요 = That bag is smelly (A smell is coming out of that bag)
그 방에서 냄새가 났어요 = That room is smelly (A smell is coming out of that room)

*Remember that 나다 is a passive verb and cannot act on an object. Therefore, the particle ~이/가 must be used on “.” You will learn more about this sentence structure in the next lesson.

Another common example of “나다” in use is in the following phrase:

큰 일 났어요!

Literally, this translates to “a big thing/task/work came up!” In Korean, this expression is used similar to the expression “Oh no! Something bad just happened!” A more common expression would probably be “Oh crap!”

You will see “나다” used with many other words throughout your Korean studies. The most common examples of 나다 (or it’s active 내다 form) are the examples above. Other common examples that you will learn shortly are provided below. I haven’t included these words in the vocabulary list above, so you don’t need to memorize them now. I am simply introducing them to you at this point because they are related to this topic.

소리 = sound
소리가 나다 = the verb of a sound happening (for a sound to “come up”)

화 = anger, rage
화가 나다 = to be angry (for anger to “come up”)

사고 = accident
사고가 나다 = to get into an accident (for an accident to “arise”)

땀 = sweat
땀이 나다 = to be sweating (for sweat to “come up”)

전쟁 = war
전쟁이 나다 = for a war to start (for a war to “come up”)

멀미 = motion sickness
멀미가 나다 = for motion sickness to “come up”

In a lot of these cases, you will see 나다 conjugated into the past tense when we as English speakers would think of the situation in the present tense. To explain this phenomenon, let me bring up an example from before:

아! 그것이 기억났다! = Ah! I remember that!

Notice here that 나다 is conjugated to the past but I have translated the English sentence into the present tense. If you imagine your memory as a thing that can “come up,” in theory, the memory had already came up before you said that sentence – therefore making it in the past tense. Here, the context of the conversation can inform you if the speaker is referring to something in the past or present tense.

It is possible to use these words in the present tense, but that would mean that the noun is currently coming up. A good example from that list above would be:

땀이 났어요 = I’m sweating

Here again, you can see 나다 conjugated to the past tense but the English sentence is translated into the present tense. Just by the nature of the word “나다” (to come out) in Korean, when sweat has “come out” of your body it means that you now have sweat on your body which we as English speakers would say as “I’m sweating.”

When 나다 is conjugating into the present tense in these cases, it insinuates that the thing is currently “coming up.” In most situations, the difference is negligible and distinguishing them would really be splitting hairs.

However, let’s split some hairs:

땀이 났어요 = Sweat was coming out of my body… which means that there is currently sweat on my body… which means that I am wet from the sweat on my body that had previously come out of my body.

땀이 나요 = Sweat is literally currently coming out of my body


저는 그것이 기억 났어요 = I remembered that… which means that I also currently remember that fact… which means that I know that fact that I had previously remembered

저는 그것이 기억 나요 = That memory is literally currently just coming to my mind


 

Really, this whole past/present thing is quite advanced and is not something I developed an understanding of until many years of exposure to Korean. As a beginner (you are still a beginner if you are only at Lesson 14!) you probably don’t need to worry about splitting these hairs. However, when I was learning, I would have wanted this to be explained to me at some point, so here I am explaining it to you.

I should point out that we don’t see this same phenomenon when these words are used in negative sentences. For example, if I say:

그것이 기억 안 났어

Does the fact of your memory “not coming up” mean that it is currently not up when you said the sentence? Huh…. I can’t even wrap my head around that sentence.

This type of past-tense-conjugated negative sentence with 나다 would only be used to say that you didn’t remember something sometime in the past. If you want to say that you cannot currently remember something, you can use the present tense conjugation. For example:

나는 그때 기억이 안 났어 = I didn’t remember (that) at that time
나는 그것이 기억 안 나 = I don’t remember that

 

 

Korean Passive Verbs – Normal verbs

So far, you’ve learned about dealing with 하다/되다/받다 verbs, verbs that can be in a state (닫다/닫히다) and 나다/내다 verbs. Sometimes, however, a verb that fits none of these conditions can be put into the passive voice. All that needs to be done in these cases is to add ~아/어지다 to the verb stem to make it passive. Note that this cannot be done with all verbs, but some common examples are:

주다 = to give
주어지다 = to be given
(Note that the word is 주어지다 and not 줘지다)

짓다 = to build
지어지다 = to be built (짓 + 어 = 지어) + 지다 = 지어지다

기회가 주어졌어요 = I was given a chance
그 집은 한국에서 지어졌어요 = that house was built in Korea

That’s it!

I warned you earlier, there was a lot of grammar in this lesson. Though all of the grammar in this lesson is very important, and must be understood to continue your development of Korean – keep in mind that it is always more natural to use active sentences instead of passive sentences in Korean.

I’m sure you are very confused! But I did my best to describe everything somebody would need to know when having to worry about the passive voice in Korean.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to make a post on our Forum!

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