Learn 5 different Eng meanings for a Korean verb 쓰다

ONE Korean verb that has MULTIPLE meanings in English

In terms of learning new vocabulary in foreign language, it can be confusing or frustrating when you realize there are multiple meanings in one single verb in the new language.

Today’s post is all about finding out what can be translated to when you use 쓰다 verb.

쓰다 verb

As far as my knowledge at this moment, this verb can have 5 different meanings in English depending on contexts.

1. to write

For the first one, when you write a book or a letter, this is the verb you use.

오늘 저는 편지를 써요. I write a letter today. 

오늘 저는 편지를 써요.

2. to wear (glasses, hat)

The second meaning of 쓰다 is to wear specifically for glasses and a hat. We use different verbs of ‘to wear’ for different types of clothing and this will be a separate blog post.

우리 엄마는 안경을 써요. My mom wears glasses.

우리 엄마는 안경을 써요.

3. to spend (money)

For the third one, this means ‘to spend’ and this is specifically for money. In English, you can use ‘spend’ for time, but there is a different verb to say “spend time”. The #3 of 쓰다 is for “spending money”.

지난 주말에 저는 쇼핑에 돈을 많이 썼어요. Last weekend, I spent a lot of money on shopping.

주말에 저는 쇼핑에 돈을 많이 썼어요

4. to be bitter

This fourth one means ‘to be bitter’ when you express taste of certain food. I do find certain vegetables are more bitter than others.. XD

이 야채는 너무 써요. This vegetable is really bitter.

이 야채는 너무 써요

5. to use

This meaning is generally for the meaning of ‘to use’. When you use any types of things such as a cell phone or a cup and many more, you use 쓰다.

항상 새로운 방법을 쓰려고 노력해요. I always try to use new methods.

항상 새로운 방법을 쓰려고 노력해요

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You Must Know This In Korean Verbs

Have you been studying Korean for a while?

If you have been studying for a month or over a year, this topic can still be confusing if you haven’t had a chance to really understand the difference in the two types of verbs.

Intransitive verb VS Transitive verb

Intransitive verb is a type of verb that doesn’t have a direct object in a sentence.
Transitive verb is another type of verb that has one or more than one direct object in a sentence.

I still find this explanation not helpful.. I learned my English as a second language having my native mother tongue as Korean.
I was struggling to understand different language terminologies which got me confused even more..

I wish someone could explain how it worked in sentence examples and got me understand the concept this way.

As a Korean language instructor, I’ve been teaching Korean for about 10 years and helped many students who had a beginner’s level starting from alphabet to a speaking level without really teaching terminologies.

Therefore, I know this method of teaching works! 🙂

Here are two set of verbs that I will explain in this post and if you have questions, please feel free to leave comments below.


Listen to Kpop
Enjoying the sound

1. 들리다 VS 듣다

들리다 and 듣다 verbs can both be found as ‘to hear’ and ‘ to listen’ in dictionary, because that’s a natural way to interpret them in English.

However, if you are truly learning Korean and want to learn more about grammar, here is how you can think.

들리다 ‘to be heard’

들리다 is ‘to be heard’ as the Korean verb doesn’t require a direct object. That means you will always use a subject with this verb and ‘to be heard’ makes most sense and you cannot use an object with ‘to be heard’.

Example 1.

멀리서 소리가 들려요. I hear the sound from far away. ➡️ interpret to “The sound from far away is heard.”

In the example, 소리 (sound) is a subject noun and 가 is the subject particle. There is no object noun.

멀리서 소리가 들려요.

Example 2.

응급차 사이런 소리가 들렸어요. I heard the siren of an emergency vehicle.
➡️ interpret to “The siren of an emergency vehicle was heard.”

응급차 사이런 소리 (emergency siren sound) is the subject and 가 is the subject particle. There is no object noun.

응급차 사이런 소리가 들렸어요.

듣다 ‘to hear’ or ‘to listen to’

듣다 is ‘to hear’ and ‘to listen to’. The Korean verb allows/ needs a direct object. Just like the English verbs, they require a direct object.

Example 1.

제 친구의 좋은 소식을 들었어요. I heard my friend’s good news.

제 친구의 좋은 소식 (my friend’s good news) is a direct object to the verb. 을 is the object particle after a syllable that ends with a consonant. The verb here is 듣다 and it’s conjugated to 들었어요 for past tense.
A subject in this sentence is omitted but you can add 저는 as I with subject particle if you want.

제 친구의 좋은 소식을 들었어요.

Example 2.

저는 케이팝을 매일 들어요. I listen to K-POP every day.

저 is I in polite and 는 is the subject particle. 케이팝 (K-POP) is the direct object and 을 is the object particle. The verb 들어요 requires an object.

저는 케이팝을 매일 들어요.

Completion
At the finish line

2. 끝나다 VS 끝내다

끝나다 ‘to finish’

끝나다 is a verb that doesn’t require a direct object noun. English verb ‘to finish’ can have an object or not depending on the context. Therefore, think of the Korean verb as the English verb that doesn’t need an object.

Example 1.

그 영화가 끝났어요. The movie finished.

그 영화 is the subject noun and 가 is the subject particle. The verb 끝났어요 is the past tense and doesn’t allow a direct object.

그 영화가 끝났어요.

Example 2.

학교는 4시에 끝나요. School finishes at 4.

학교 is a subject noun and 는 is the subject particle. 4시에 is ‘at 4’ and 끝나요 again doesn’t allow a direct object.

학교는 4시에 끝나요.

끝내다 ‘to complete’

끝내다 is a verb that requires a direct object. Thus, it’s good to think of this verb as ‘to complete’ in English. Although ‘to finish’ can have a direct object, but that verb also doesn’t require a direct object under some circumstances. Therefore, by thinking it as ‘to complete’, it simplifies remembering the grammar rules.

Example 1.

(저는) 숙제를 끝냈어요. I completed the homework.

저 is I in polite with 는 the subject particle and 숙제 (homework) is the object noun with 를 object particle. 끝냈어요 is in past tense and required a direct object.

(저는) 숙제를 끝냈어요.

Example 2.

(저는) 2시까지 일을 끝내야 돼요. I have to complete work by 2.

저 is I in polite with 는 the subject particle and 2시까지 is by two. 일 (work) is the object noun with the 을 object particle. 끝내야 돼요 is ‘have to complete’ and required a direct object.

(저는) 2시까지 일을 끝내야 돼요.

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Korean Verb Conjugations In Present Tense

Regular Verb/ Present tense Conjugation

Verb root is the stem of verbs after removing 다 from dictionary form.
1) If the verb root ends with  vowel, vowels, it becomes ‘ㅏ요’ .
2) If the verb root ends with  syllable, it becomes ‘해요’.
3) If the verb ends with the rest of vowels, it becomes ‘어요’.

Irregular rules

1) If it ends with vowel, it becomes ‘ㅕ요’.
2) If it ends with vowel, get rid of and add
‘ㅓ요’.
3) If it (only applying to some verbs) ends with ㅂ consonant, make new verb root by getting rid of ㅂ and add ‘우’, then ‘어요’ (which becomes ‘워요’)


Download the FREE PDF of 245 verbs that are conjugated from dictionary to present/ past/ future polite speech. Click HERE.

245 Korean verb conjugation from dictionary to present, past and future tense
245 Korean verb conjugation from dictionary to present, past and future tense