Korean Verb Conjugation (The ㅏ Case)

Let’s learn how to conjugate these Korean verbs in present tense.

가다 to go
사다 to buy
짜다 to be salty

팔다 to sell
감다 to close (eye)/to wash (hair)
닫다 to close (door)

The first thing that you probably notice is the syllable 다. It is called the dictionary form similar to the preposition to in the meanings above. We do not use to in an actual sentence. Similarly, we do not say 다 when making sentences in Korean. We have to get rid of it and what remains is the verb stem. 

When conjugating, we only need the verb stem. Can you see what they have in common? That’s right, each syllable has the vowel ㅏ. The first three literally ends in ㅏ while the second three has an extra consonant at the bottom. The rule says that when a verb stem ends in ㅏ, we conjugate it by attaching 아(요).



The ㅏ sound in group one sounds redundant. We can simply it by fusing the two ㅏ sounds into one.



The second group doesn’t need any contraction, but there is a sort of blending. The consonant just before 아(요) is pronounced as if it is the initial sound of the second syllable.

팔아요- 파라요
감아요- 가마요
닫아요- 다다요

Now, we can make Korean sentences in present tense.

저는 학교에 가요.
I go to school.

너무 짜요!
It’s so salty.

차 팔아요.
I sell cars.