Present Perfect Tense in Korean


Let’s learn how to construct sentences in present perfect simple tense in Korean. In English, we do this by using the helping verb has/have and the past participle form of the verb. Here are some examples.

I have been to Korea. (past experience)
I have just woken up. (just happened)
I have lost the keys. (happened earlier)

We use this tense to talk about experiences, actions that have just been done, or actions that have just happened. In Korean, there is no real present perfect tense, but only past tense to describe past actions. The second and third examples qualify for past tense, but the first example is different because it has the nuance of I tried doing something in the past.

In Korean, we can express it through the pattern Verb + 본 적이 있다 / 없다. We take the verb stem and conjugate it into its 아/어/여 form. And then we add 본 적이 있다/없다. 있다 is affirmative and 없다 is negative. Here are some examples.

사랑해 본 적이 없어요.
I have never been in love.

한국 사람 만나 본 적이 없어요.
I have never met a Korean.

한국에 가 본 적이 있어요.
I have been to Korea.

If this seems hard for you, then you can try another shorter pattern in the form of Verb + 봤다. We simply conjugate the verb into its 아/아/여 form and add 봤다. To make the negative form, place 안 before the verb.

사랑 안 해 봤어요
I have never been in love.

한국 사람 안 만나 봤어요.
I have never met a Korean.

한국에 가 봤어요.
I have been to Korea.