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

Lesson 16: Noun + ~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

경제적 = economical

역사 = history

역사적 = historical

과학 = science

과학적 = scientific

충동 = impulse/shock

충동적 = impulsive

문화 = culture

문화적 = cultural

민주(주의) = democracy

민주적 = democratic

개인 = individual/personal

개인적 = individual

자연 = nature
자연스럽다 = natural

실망(하다) = disappointment(disappointed)

실망스럽다 = to be disappointing

사랑(하다) = love/(to love)

사랑스럽다 = to be lovely

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

만족스럽다 = to be satisfactory

Nouns:
관계 = relationship

스트레스 = stress

연필 = pencil

색깔 = color

그 = he, him

그녀 = she, her

결과 = result

꿈 = a dream

세상 = world

세계 = world

회화 = conversation

문자 = text message

가슴 = chest

제목 = title of something (book, etc)

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

꿈꾸다 = to dream

태어나다 = to be born

다니다 = to go somewhere frequently

믿다 = to believe, to trust

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

힘들다 = to be difficult to do something

순수하다 = to be pure

Adverbs and Other Words:
조금 = a little

근처 = close/near by

나중에 = later

최근에 = recently

그러나 = but/however

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

~적/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
충동 = 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 관계에* 있다 = Historically, Korea and the US have had a good relationship
Again, as I said in the previous lesson – don’t get too hung up on grammar – especially when reading/listening to a sentence and trying to understand its meaning when compared to English. My Korean grammar teacher told me that once. I always asked him “why isn’t this sentence like this? Why isn’t this sentence like this?” He eventually told me “Don’t get hung up on things like that.” In this sentence, you would think that it should be written as “좋은 관계가 있다” – have a good relationship. For whatever reason however, it is more naturally said with 에 instead of 가 – translating to something like “they are in/have been in a good relationship.” You just need to let go of grammar sometimes and let your brain tell you what you think it should mean based on the words around the grammar.

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)

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