Lesson 9: Conjugate 이다 (할 것이다)
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.
공장 = factory
열 = fever
극장 = theater
회사 = company
장소 = place/location
간판 = a sign
직업 = job
수업 = a class (that you ‘take’ or ‘teach’)
고기 = meat
돼지 = pig
돼지고기 = pork
소 = cow
소고기 = beef
돈 = money
꽃 = flowers
값 = price
땅콩 = peanut
축구(하다) = (to play) soccer
야구(하다) = (to play) baseball
여권 = passport
수건 = towel
체육 = physical education
지하철 = subway
되다 = to become
시작하다 = to start
행동하다 = to act
소개하다 = to introduce
발견하다 = to find
방문하다 = to visit
잃다 = to lose
잃어버리다 = to lose
벗다 = to take off one’s clothes
웃다 = to laugh
부끄럽다 = to be shy
건강하다 = to be healthy
예쁘다 = to be pretty
미래 = future
이제 = now
현재 = now/present
For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.
이다 is conjugated differently than other verbs/adjectives. Not just when conjugating, but when doing other things to 이다, it usually behaves in another way (you will learn about those other things later). As of now, the only conjugation you know for 이다 is the plain form in the present tense:
나는 선생님이다 = I am a teacher
If the last letter of the noun before 이다 ends in a vowel, you can eliminate 이. For example:
나는 의사다 = I am a doctor
나는 의사이다 = I am a doctor
Both of the above can be seen as correct. Here, the pronunciation of “이” is merging with the pronunciation of the vowel in the noun. If you pronounce the two sentences above, you can see that there is very little difference.
Conversely, if the last letter of the noun before 이다 is a consonant, this merging cannot happen. For example:
나는 선생님이다 = I am a teacher (correct)
나는 선생님다 – incorrect
This merging of 이다 does not happen because it has nothing to merge with. Furthermore, if you try to pronounce “선생님다”, it just doesn’t flow properly. It is hard to get your mouth to move from the “ㅁ” sound immediately to the “ㄷ” sound. This same principle occurs in other conjugations of 이다, but it is a little bit more complex.
In almost every case, you can conjugate 이다 differently depending on if the noun it is being attached to ends in a vowel or consonant. The reason they are conjugated differently is similar to the example above with 의사다 vs. 의사이다. Here, the pronunciation of “이” is being merged with something, and can therefore disappear. You will learn about each conjugation specifically, but I will give you an example here to prepare you for all the future explanations. Try not to worry about the meanings of these sentences, and just focus on what I am presenting.
As you will learn later, when conjugating 이다 into the past tense in the plain form, “었다” is added to the stem of “이다” (이). This is actually quite simple for you to understand, because every other verb and adjective follows this same rule. For example:
However, the pronunciation of 이었다 can merge to “였다” when the noun that it is being attached to ends in a vowel. For example, both of these are correct:
Pronounce both of those, and listen to how little of a difference there is between the two. Not only that, the pronunciation of both of those is very easy and it flows off the tongue.
Conversely, 이 and 었다 cannot merge when the noun it is added to ends in a consonant. For example:
선생님이었다 – correct
선생님였다 – incorrect
Pronounce both of those and listen the difference. Not only that,‘선생님였다’ is hard to pronounce. It is difficult to move your mouth from the ㅁ sound directly to the 여 sound. It is much easier to pronounce it like this: 나는 선생님-이-었-다.
Although I am only talking about the past tense plain form in this example, this same rule applies in many situations. If you keep this in mind when learning the conjugations in this lesson, they will be much easier to grasp.
이다 Present Tense
Conjugating 이다 to the present tense is relatively confusing compared to the past tense because new syllables are added with no real logic behind them. Whereas past conjugations are simply done by connecting the stem “이” to the typical past tense addition of “었다”, present tense conjugations have additions that are not seen with any other verb or adjective. Let’s talk about these first.
Informal Low Respect
Add ~이야 to a word ending in a consonant, or ~(이)야 to a word ending in a vowel:
나는 좋은 학생이야 = I am a good student
그것은 책이야 = That thing is a book
나는 선생님이야 = I am a teacher
이것은 여권이야 = This is a passport
그것은 사과야 = That thing is an apple
나는 의사야 = I am a doctor
야구는 좋은 스포츠야 = Baseball is a good sport
When conjugating “아니다” in this respect, you simply add “~야” to “아니다:”
나는 학생이 아니야 = I am not a student
그것은 책이 아니야 = That thing is not a book
Informal High Respect
Add ~이에요 to a word ending in a consonant, or ~예요 to a word ending in a vowel:
그것은 사진이에요 = That thing is a picture
저는 선생님이에요 = I am a teacher
저는 좋은 학생이에요 = I am a good student
이 사람은 저의 누나예요 = This (person) is my sister
저는 의사예요 = I am a doctor
저것은 사과예요 = That thing is an apple
When conjugating “아니다” in this respect, you simply add ~에요 to 아니다:
저는 학생이 아니에요 = I am not a student
Note that Korean people are often confused if they need to add “~예요” or “~에요” to 아니다. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see somebody use “아니예요.”
Formal High Respect
Add ~입니다 (~이 + ~ㅂ니다) to words ending in a vowel or consonant:
저는 의사입니다 = I am a doctor
그 사람은 저의 형입니다 = That person is my brother
저는 선생님입니다 = I am a teacher
저는 좋은 학생입니다 = I am a good student
이 고기는 돼지고기입니다 = This meat is pork
With words ending in vowels, you can eliminate ~이 and attach ~ㅂ니다 directly to the word. This is more commonly done in conversation, and not usually written.
When conjugating “아니다” in this respect, you must add “~ㅂ니다” directly to “아니다.” For example:
저는 의사가 아닙니다 = I am not a doctor
저는 학생이 아닙니다 = I am not a student
그것은 저의 직업이 아닙니다 = That (thing) is not my job
그것은 저의 여권이 아닙니다 = That (thing) is not my passport
그 건물은 극장이 아닙니다 = That building is not a theater
이다 Past Tense
Conjugating 이다 to the past tense is simple, and is done by connecting ~이 to ~었~. When the last syllable in a word ends in a vowel, ~이 + ~었 can combine to make ~였.
Informal Low Respect
Add ~이었어 to all words. If the word ends in a vowel, ~이었어 can contract to ~였어.
나는 바쁜 선생님이었어 = I was a busy teacher
나는 학생이었어 = I was a student
나는 선생님이었어 = I was a teacher
나는 나쁜 애기였어 = I was a bad baby
나는 나쁜 의사였어 = I was a bad doctor
Informal High Respect
This conjugation is the same as above (Informal Low Respect), except for that “~요” is added to the end of ~이었 or ~였. That is, you should add ~이었어요 to all words. If the word ends in a vowel, ~이었어요 can contract to ~였어요.
그것은 큰 비밀이었어요 = That was a big secret
저는 선생님이었어요 = I was a teacher
저는 의사였어요 = I was a doctor
저는 나쁜 애기였어요 = I was a bad baby
Same as above, but you should add the regular “~다” ending instead of “~요.” That is, you should add ~이었다 to all words. If the word ends in a vowel, ~이었다 can contract to ~였다.
나는 선생님이었다 = I was a teacher
나는 의사였다 = I was a doctor
Formal High Respect
add ~이었습니다 to all words. If the word ends in a vowel, ~이었습니다 can contract to ~였습니다다.
저는 선생님이었습니다 = I was a teacher
저는 의사였습니다 = I was a doctor
In all situations in the past tense, 아니다 is conjugated just like any other word. An example of each respect:
나는 학생이 아니었어
나는 학생이 아니었다
저는 학생이 아니었어요
저는 학생이 아니었습니다
The weird thing is that Korean speakers sometimes would use these:
나는 학생이 아니였어
나는 학생이 아니였다
저는 학생이 아니였어요
저는 학생이 아니였습니다
Just going by the rules of the language, I’d have to assume that the first set is correct. I base this on the fact that in no other word do we add “~였~” to a stem. In other words, “~였~” is created from “이 + 었,” but it is never added as a stand-alone thing.
How to actually conjugate verbs/adjectives to the Future Tense
In Lesson 6, you learned how to conjugate words to the future tense by adding 겠어/겠어요/겠다/겠습니다 to the word stem. Though adding ~겠~ to a word stem is one way to conjugate words to the future, there is a more common way to conjugate to do this!
Before learning how to do to this, you needed to learn more grammar first (namely, how to conjugate 이다 properly). Either way, ~겠~ is still used in Korean, but not as much as the method you are about to learn.
For verbs or adjectives, when conjugating into the future tense, you must first add ~ㄹ/을 to the stem of the word.
When you add ~ㄹ/을 to a word stem, ~ㄹ gets attached directly to stems ending in a vowel, and ~을 gets added onto stems ending in a consonant. For example:
가다 ends in a vowel, so
가다 + ㄹ = 갈
먹다 ends in a consonant, so
먹다 + 을 = 먹을
There is also one irregular involved with adding ㄹ/을 to a stem. You were introduced to this irregular briefly in Lesson 7, but I could not teach it to you perfectly because you didn’t know about ~ㄹ/을 at that point.
If a stem ends in a final consonant that is ㄹ, when adding ~ㄹ/을, you actually don’t add anything. That sounds weird, but it is true. Check it out.
갈다 is a word where the stem ends in a consonant, so you would normally add 을:
갈 + 을 = 갈을
But saying this is weird. Try to pronounce that: 갈을.
Instead, it is way easier to just say 갈.
Anyways, that’s it for the irregular.
This is going to sound extremely complicated (and it is): adding ~ㄹ/을 to the stem of an adjective changes it to a word that can describe a noun in the future tense. For example:
행복한 사람 = happy person
행복할 사람 = a person that will be happy
Similarly, (this is where it gets complicated) adding ~ㄹ/~을 to a stem of a verb turns it into a word that can describe a noun in the future:
먹을 음식 = the food that will be eaten.
If you can’t understand the explanation between the lines – don’t worry. That level of grammar is very difficult to grasp at this stage of learning. That grammar will be discussed very deeply in Lessons 26 – 29. If you want to jump ahead to those lessons, feel free. However, the mechanics within the grammar are not important to you yet.
– Adding ~ㄹ/~을 to the stem of an adjective allows that adjective to describe a noun in the future tense
– Adding ~ㄹ/~을 to the stem of a verb allows that verb to describe a noun in the future tense
– Because these newly formed words can describe nouns, they must be followed by a noun
What does all this have to do with conjugating into the future?
When Korean people conjugate to the future, they usually do so by adding ~ㄹ/~을 to a verb/adjective.
This is essentially the same as adding ㄴ/은 to an adjective stem which you already know: (좋다 -> 좋은).
You should know, however, that you cannot end a sentence like this:
Because 좋은 is an adjective that modifies a noun, a noun must follow 좋은:
나는 좋은 사람
Now, to end the sentence, you need to add 이다 to the noun:
나는 좋은 사람이다 = I am a good person.
So, again, when Korean people conjugate verbs/adjectives to the future, they usually do so by adding ~ㄹ/~을 to the word stem:
But this changes verbs/adjectives into an adjectives that describe nouns. Therefore, (just like 좋은) a noun must follow these words. The noun that is always used in this situation is 것 (thing):
나는 행복할 것
나는 먹을 것
나는 공부할 것
Now, to end those sentences, you need to add 이다 to the noun:
나는 행복할 것이다
나는 먹을 것이다
나는 공부할 것이다
If you try to directly translate these sentences to English, they have the meaning:
I am a thing who will be happy
I am a thing who will eat
I am a thing who will study
But there actual meanings are:
나는 행복할 것이다 = I will be happy
나는 먹을 것이다 = I will eat
나는 공부할 것이다 = I will study
The 이다 can then be conjugated based on the level of politeness or formality. But keep in mind that even though this sentence is conjugated into the future, the 이다 should stay in the present tense. Because the ~ㄹ/을 creates a future sentence, 이다 does not need to be in the future.
것 is also sometimes shortened to 거, for no other reason than it is easier to say and creates a shorter sentence. For example, these two are exactly the same:
저는 밥을 먹을 것이에요 = I will eat rice
저는 밥을 먹을 거예요 = I will eat rice
Notice that ~이에요 is added when 것 (which ends in a consonant) is used and ~예요 is added when 거 (which ends in a vowel) is used. This is the same rule that you learned earlier in the lesson when conjugating 이다 depending on if the final letter of a noun ends in a consonant or vowel.
Note that Korean people are often confused if they need to add “~이에요,” or “~예요” or “~에요” to 거 in these cases. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see somebody use “할 거에요.”
나는 내일 친구를 만날 것이야 = I will meet my friend tomorrow
나는 내일 친구를 만날 거야 = I will meet my friend tomorrow
저는 내일 학교에 갈 것입니다 = I will go to school tomorrow
저는 영어를 공부할 거예요 = I will study English
Irregulars come into play when adding ~ㄹ/을 to a verb or adjective because of the possibility of adding a vowel to a stem. Let’s look at the word “걷다” as an example. 걷다 has a consonant as its final letter, which means that ~을 must be added (instead of ~ㄹ). Therefore, we end up with:
Because of this, we now have the final consonant “ㄷ” followed by a vowel, which causes the ㄷ irregular to be applied. The correct conjugation of 걷다 + ~ㄹ/을 것이다 is therefore “걸을 것이다.”
Below is a table that shows how ~ㄹ/을 effects each of the irregulars that you learned in Lesson 7.
Irregular Example Word Does this apply? Application
ㅅ Irregular 짓다 (build) YES 지을 것이다
ㄷ Irregular 걷다 (walk) YES 걸을 것이다
ㅂ Irregular 쉽다 (easy) YES 쉬울 것이다
ㅡ Irregular 잠그다 (lock) NO 잠글 것이다
르 Irregular 부르다 (call) NO 부를 것이다
ㄹ Irregular 열다 (open) YES 열 것이다
Here is one example sentence:
저는 문을 열 거예요 = I will open the door (열 + 을 = 열)
Future 이다 – Using 되다
Conjugating 이다 to the future tense is the same as is done above, but it is also possible to use another verb; 되다. 되다 is one of the hardest words in Korean, mainly because it has so many meanings. You will be introduced to each of these meanings as you progress through our lessons, but the first meaning of ‘되다’ is “to become”… which is slightly different than “to be”. Let me introduce the word “되다” to you by showing you examples of it being used in the past tense:
(Note the way 되다 is used. ~이/가 is attached to the noun that the subject “becomes” instead of ~를/을)
저는 선생님이 되었어요 = I became a teacher
Which is slightly different than:
저는 선생님이었어요 = I was a teacher
Very similar, but the difference between “to become” and “to be” (which in this case is in the past tense of ‘was’) is “become” suggests that prior to that time, the situation was different. I’m sure you get it, but let me describe it using English examples:
I became a teacher last year
I was a teacher last year
(The reason I am explaining this using English examples instead of Korean is because you haven’t learned the word “last year” in Korean yet).
When you say “I became a teacher last year”, you are indicating that – before last year you were not a teacher – but last year you became a teacher.
When you say “I was a teacher last year”, you are not specifying if you were a teacher before that time as well, or even if you are still a teacher. All you are specifying is that you were a teacher last year, and no other information is given.
되다 can be used in the present tense as well (and again differs slightly from 이다), but most of the natural sentences require the use of grammatical principles that you haven’t learned yet, so I am not going to introduce them to you here.
Anyways, the whole purpose of this is to explain how this applies to the future tense. First off, it is awkward to conjugate 이다 to the future tense using ~겠다. For example, this sounds awkward in Korean:
If you want to say that something “will be” something in the future, because of the nature of the word “되다” there is no real difference if you use 되다 or 이다. For example:
저는 곧 선생님이 될 것입니다 = I will become a teacher soon
저는 곧 선생님일 거예요 = I will be a teacher soon
나는 미래에 의사가 될 거야 = I will become a doctor in the future
나는 미래에 의사일 거야 = I will be a doctor in the future
한국이 곧 좋은 나라가 될 것이다 = Korea will become a good country soon
한국이 곧 좋은 나라일 것이다 = Korea will be a good country soon
이 장소는 공원이 될 것이다 = This place will become a park
이 장소는 공원일 것이다 = This place will be a park
I just want to point out here that the “일” you are seeing above is not the word “일“. Rather it is the future conjugation (using the conjugation taught in the lesson) of 이다. 선생님이다 becomes 선생님 + 이다 + ~ㄹ/을 것이다.
At this point it is hard to create more example sentences because you don’t know many words that describe times in the future. Once you learn how to say words like “next year” or “a few months from now”, you will be able to apply this same format of sentences to create sentences like:
This place will become a park next year
I will become a doctor in a few months
However, introducing those words is a lesson in itself, and I don’t want to overload this lesson even more than I already have.
The sentences above using 이다 and 되다 in the future tense can be used to make negative sentences as well. When making the negative form of a 되다 sentence, you can just add 안 or ~지 않다 just like with any other verb or adjective. When making the negative form of an 이다 sentence, you should use 아니다. You can change each pair of sentences above to a negative sentence. For example:
나는 미래에 의사가 되지 않을 거야 = I won’t become a doctor in the future
나는 미래에 의사가 아닐 거야 = I won’t be a doctor in the future
한국이 곧 좋은 나라가 되지 않을 거야 = Korea won’t become a good country soon
한국이 곧 좋은 나라가 아닐 거야 = Korea won’t be a good country soon
이 장소는 공원이 되지 않을 거야 = This place won’t become a park
이 장소는 공원이 아닐 거야 = This place won’t be a park
Those sentences, while kind of ridiculous, are all grammatically correct. I can’t think of any time when you would actually want to say a sentence like that, but they are all possible if the right situation came up. Most of the time, there would be a better way to say each of the sentences above. For example, instead of saying:
나는 미래에 의사가 되지 않을 거야 = I won’t become a doctor in the future
It would probably be more natural to say something like “I don’t want to become a doctor in the future.” You will learn how to say this, and other grammatical principles that can make your speech more natural as you progress along with your studies. For now, try to understand what is being done grammatically, and don’t worry too much about when you would actually use a sentence like that.
One other quick thing; and I really don’t want to spend too much time on this because I have already overwhelmed you with grammar in this lesson. However, the future conjugation of 이다 is introduced in this lesson and I feel this needs to be talked about here. By using the future ~ㄹ/을 것이다 conjugation on 이다, you can also create a sentence where the speaker is guessing about a certain situation in the present tense. Look at some examples first:
그 사람이 의사일 거예요 = That person is probably/most likely a doctor
그것은 여권일 거예요 = That thing is probably/most likely a passport
문제는 돈일 거예요 = The problem is probably/most likely money
These sentences as well can be said using 아니다 instead of 이다:
그 사람이 의사가 아닐 거야 = That person is probably/most likely not a doctor
그것은 여권이 아닐 거야 = That thing is probably/most likely not a passport
문제는 돈이 아닐 거야 = The problem is probably/most likely not money
Notice that in these cases the speaker is not talking about him/herself. Also, even though the sentence is conjugated into the future tense, the speaker is guessing that something is the case in the present tense. Thus, it is weird to include time indicators in these sentences (for example “next year” or “in a few months from now”) because the speaker is not trying to create this meaning.
The question then becomes – how can I distinguish if somebody is saying one of these “guessing” sentences or saying “something will become something”. You will learn continuously throughout your Korean studies that understanding a Korean sentence is all about context – and the situation almost always makes it clear what the speaker wants to express.
At this point though, I don’t want you to focus too much on these guessing-like sentences because they are probably too advanced for you right now. I suggest focusing on how to use the ~ㄹ/을 것이다 form to conjugate verbs/adjectives into the future tense – and realize that 되다 can be used instead of 이다 when conjugating to the future tense.