Lesson 8: Korean Adverbs, Negative Sentences in Korean

Lesson 8: Korean Adverbs, Negative Sentences in Korean


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 all of these words and example sentences in addition to common usages and specific notes can be found here.

기계 = machine

대학교 = college, university

트럭 = truck

검은색 = (the color) black

흰색 = (the color) white

음료수 = beverage, drink

외국 = foreign country

외국인 = foreigner

고등학교 = high school

도서관 = library

놀다 = to play

쓰다 = to use

쓰다 = to write

실수하다 = to make a mistake

수리하다 = to repair

잡다 = to catch, to grab, to grasp

읽다 = to read

내다 = to pay for

받다 = to get, to receive, to acquire

도착하다 = to arrive

여행하다 = to travel

완벽하다 = to be perfect

아프다 = to be sick, to be sore

똑똑하다 = to be smart

중요하다 = to be important

젊다 = to be young

늙다 = to be old

나이가 많다 = to be old

바로 = immediately

즉시 = immediately

빨리 = quickly/fast

자주 = often

가끔 = sometimes

많이 = many/a lot of

방금 = a moment ago

곳 = place

동시에 = same time

밤 = night

어젯밤 = last night

갑자기 = suddenly

매년 = every year

다시 = again

혼자 = alone

낮 = daytime

동 = East

남 = South

서 = West

북 = North

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

Korean Adverbs

To this point, you have studied Korean verbs and adjectives in great depth, but you have yet to learn much about Korean adverbs. First of all, what is an adverb? Adverbs are words in sentences that tell you when, where, or to what degree something is being done.

When: I went to work on Tuesday
Where: I am inside the house
Degree: I opened the door quickly

In this lesson, you will learn how to use adverbs in Korean sentences. Let’s get started!

When and Where

Anytime you put a word in a sentence that indicates when or where something is taking place, you must add the particle 에 to the end of that word. Keep in mind, however, that 에 is not the only particle that can go at the end of words of position or time. There are other particles that can go at the end of these words to indicate from when/where something occurred, until when/where, etc. For now, though, lets just talk about 에.

This is very important. Even though all places (park, house, hospital, school, office, room, kitchen, etc) are also nouns, when they are being talked about as a place, the particle 에 must be attached to them. Notice the difference between the following two sentences:

저는 병원을 지었어요 = I built a hospital
저는 병원에 갔어요 = I went to the/a hospital

In the first sentence, “hospital” is the thing in which you are building – so it is an object, which requires you to use the 을/를 particle.
In the second sentence, the hospital is the place in which you went to – so it is a place, which requires it to have the 에 particle.

However, if you wanted to say where you built that hospital, you could say this:

저는 병원을 공원 옆에 지었어요 = I built a hospital beside the park

In addition to this, any word that indicates when something is taking place, needs have the Korean particle 에 attached to it. For example:

저는 화요일에 가겠어요 = I will go on Tuesday
저는 저녁에 공부했어요 = I studied in the evening
저는 가을에 공원 옆에 병원을 지었어요 = I built a hospital beside the park in the fall

The best part about Korean adverbs is that they can essentially be placed at any place in the sentence. The only place they cannot be placed is at the end of the sentence – because a sentence must always end in an adjective or verb. They could even be placed at the beginning of a sentence:

여름에 저는 공부하겠어요 = I will study in the summer

Korean people don’t add ~에 when using 오늘 (today), 내일 (tomorrow) and 어제 (yesterday):

저는 한국에 오늘 도착했어요 = I arrived in Korea today
저는 도서관에 어제 갔어요 = I went to the library yesterday
저는 내일 한국어를 공부하겠어요 = I will study Korean tomorrow.

To what degree/How much

In addition to “when” and “where” adverbs, many adverbs can tell us to what degree something is being done. These adverbs usually (but not always) end in ‘ly’ in English:

I ran really quickly
I ate fast
I left immediately
I often meet my friend on Thursday
I eat too much sometimes

When adding these types of adverbs to sentences, no particle needs to be attached.
While other adverbs are generally free to be placed anywhere in a sentence, adverbs like this that indicate a degree to which something is done are typically placed immediately before the verb. For example:

저는 저의 친구를 자주 만나요 = I meet my friend often
저는 밥을 많이 먹었어요 = I ate a lot of food (rice)
저는 집에 바로 갔어요 = I went home immediately
저는 숙제를 빨리 했어요 = I did my homework quickly

Also, many of these words are just transferred from their adjective forms to create an adverb. This is done in English as well, for example:

Quick -> Quickly
Easy -> Easily
Quiet -> Quietly

A lot of adverbs in Korean are simply made by adding ‘게’ to the stem of an adjective:

Adjective Adverb
쉽다 = easy 쉽게 = easily
비슷하다 = similar 비슷하게 = similarly
다르다 = different 다르게 = differently
Adjectives that end in 하다 are sometimes changed into adverbs by changing 하다 to 히. With most adjectives you can either add 게 to the stem or 히 with no difference in meaning. The only thing I can suggest is try to listen to which one is said in a specific situation, because even Korean people don’t know the answer to the question “what is the difference between 조용하게 and 조용히”:

Adjective Adverb
조용하다 = quiet 조용하게/조용히 = quietly
안전하다 = safe 안전하게/안전히 = safely
Finally, some adjectives are changed into adverbs in a different way. When this happens, they are usually very similar to their original adjective form:

Adjective Adverb
많다 = many 많이 = many/a lot*
빠르다 = quick/fast 빨리 = quickly
*많다/많이 essentially have the same meaning aside from the fact that one is an adverb and one is an adjective. Most of the time, the difference between the adjective and adverb form is very clear, but with 많이/많다, the meaning is similar. See the following:

저는 많은 밥을 먹었어요 = I ate a lot of rice
저는 밥을 많이 먹었어요 = I ate a lot of rice.
Now that you know ALL that, using adverbs in sentences is easy as pie!:

저는 조용하게 먹었어요 = I ate quietly
저는 거리를 안전하게 건넜어요 = I crossed the street safely
저는 행복하게 살았어요 = I lived happily

You can, of course, use more than one adjective in a sentence. To look at the list I showed you earlier:

저는 매우 빨리 달렸어요 = I ran really quickly
저는 빨리 먹었어요 = I ate fast
저는 바로 떠났어요 = I left immediately
저는 저의 친구를 목요일에 자주 만나요 = I often meet my friend on Thursday
저는 가끔 너무 많이 먹어요 = I eat too much sometimes

Though you can do that, using two adjectives that indicate the ‘degree of something’ is generally not done in Korean. For example, this would sound awkward:

저는 거리를 쉽게 빨리 건넜어요 = I easily quickly crossed the street (It’s also awkward in English!)

Negative Sentences

There are two ways you can make a sentence negative:

1. By adding 안 (acting as an adverb in the sentence) before a verb/adjective
2. By adding ~지 않다 to the stem of a verb/adjective. 않다 then becomes the verb/adjective in that sentence and must be conjugated accordingly.

Both have the exact same meaning. When I first learned these, I asking a Korean teacher “how do I know when to use one or the other?” His answer: “It is totally up to the speaker.” After saying that, however, he did say that he thinks ~하지 않다 is usually connected to words ending in 하다 (there are a lot) whereas 안 is added to the sentence when the verb/adjective just ends in 다. But don’t pay much attention that that: they are exactly the same. For example:

저는 안 공부했어요 = I didn’t study, or
저는 공부하지 않았어요 = I didn’t study

More Examples:
저는 안 행복해요 = I’m not happy
저는 행복하지 않아요 = I’m not happy

저는 내일 학교에 안 가겠어요 = I’m not going to school tomorrow
저는 내일 학교에 가지 않겠어요 = I’m not going to school tomorrow

저는 생선을 안 좋아해요 = I don’t like fish
저는 생선을 좋아하지 않아요 = I don’t like fish

그 여자는 안 예뻐요 = That girl isn’t pretty
그 여자는 예쁘지 않아요 = That girl isn’t pretty

I have had people ask me about the word order of sentences using an adverb and the negative adverb “안”. One learner asked me if this sentence would be okay:

저는 빨리 안 공부했어요

While it might be understood, this sentence sounds very awkward in Korean. The reason is probably due to the fact that there are two adverbs being used. In this sentence, both “빨리” and “안” act as adverbs that indicate the degree to which the studying was done. As I mentioned earlier, this usually isn’t done in Korean. Instead, if you wanted to express that meaning, you can use the ~지않다 negative addition instead. By doing this, you effectively remove one of the adverbs and are left with:

저는 빨리 공부하지 않았어요 = I didn’t study quickly

Even still, though. This sentence could still be a little awkward in Korean – because when would you ever say “I didn’t study quickly”? In most cases, it would be more natural to simply use an adverb that has the opposite meaning. For example, this sentence:

저는 밥을 빨리 먹지 않았어요 = I didn’t eat (rice) quickly

Would be more naturally said as:

저는 밥을 천천히 먹었어요= I ate rice slowly

To not be: 아니다

이다 is usually conjugated and changed differently compared to normal verbs/adjective, and this case is no exception. If you want to say “I am not ____” instead of using 이다, you must use 아니다 (essentially, 안 + 이다):

나는 선생님이 아니다 = I am not a teacher
(저는 선생님이 아니에요)

나는 너의 친구가 아니다 = I am not your friend
(저는 너의 친구가 아니에요)

나는 대학생이 아니다 = I am not a University Student
(저는 대학생이 아니에요)

Notice the difference between how 이다 and 아니다 are used, however. 이다 is always attached directly to the noun: (저는 선생님이다) whereas 아니다 comes after the noun after a noun with the particle 이/가 attached. Notice that the examples above are not conjugated. I haven’t taught you how to conjugate 이다 yet, so I don’t want to show you how to conjugate 아니다 either. You will learn how to conjugate 이다 in Lesson 9.

To not have: 없다

Just like how 아니다 is the opposite of 이다 – 없다 is the opposite of 있다. You learned that 있다 can be used to mean “to have” or “to be in/at a location/for something to be there”:

To have: 저는 돈이 있다 = I have money
To be in/at a location: 저는 학교 안에 있어요 = I am inside the school

없다, then, can have the meanings “to not have” or “to not be in/at a location/for there to be none of.” For example:

To not have:
저는 돈이 없어요 = I don’t have money
저는 시간이 없어요 = I don’t have time
우리는 차가 없어요 = We don’t have a car

To not be in a location:
저의 친구는 지금 한국에 없어요 = My friend is not in Korea now

For there to be none of:
사람이 없었어요 = There was no people

When using this final usage of “없다” (to indicate that there was none of something) it is more natural to use the particle “이/가” on the subject. The reason for this is actually because this specific meaning and the first meaning above (“to not have”) are actually the same type of sentence. The only difference is the fact that the “to not have” sentences also include a subject that “does not have” whatever noun is being used. In the “for there to be none of” sentence – there simply isn’t a subject that “does not have” the thing in question.

For example:

저는 돈이 없어요 = I don’t have money
돈이 없어요 = There is no money

Those two sentences are essentially the same, except for that in the first example, there is a person that “does not have” the money. Note that these two sentences can literally mean the exact same thing because often times the subject can be omitted. Therefore, the following sentence:

돈이 없어요

Could mean either of the following:

I don’t have money, or
There is no money

The context will make it clear specifically which one the speaker is trying to express. However, don’t get too bent out of shape about the difference between those two. I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be.

Other Negative Words

Just like in English, there are many words that actually have a negative meaning. For example, “싫어하다” is a verb that means to dislike something. There is also “싫다” which means “bad/to not like/to dislike.” The difference between 싫어하다 and 싫다 is the same as the difference between 좋아하다 and 좋다. Because 싫어하다 is a verb, the object particles (를/을) must be attached to the thing that one dislikes. For example:

저는 과일을 싫어해요 = I dislike fruit

싫다, however (like 좋다) is an adjective. Therefore, if you want to use “싫다” to say that you dislike something, the particles “이/가” must be attached to the thing that one dislikes. For example:

저는 과일이 싫어요 = I dislike fruit

Both of those are essentially the same as:
저는 과일을 안 좋아해요/저는 과일을 좋아하지 않아요
저는 과일이 안 좋아요 / 저는 과일이 좋지 않아요

Be careful to not make double negative sentences. Although technically grammatically correct, this one reads funny:
저는 과일을 싫어하지 않아요 = I don’t dislike fruit

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