Level 1 Lesson 16 / Basic Present Tense / -아요, -어요, -여요

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In this TTMIK lesson, we are looking at how to change a verb in its dictionary form into the basic present tense. In Korean, when you look up a verb in a dictionary, everything ends in the letter 다 [da], and you have to get rid of that in order to conjugate the verb. And after that, you add 아요, 어요, or 여요. Listen in to find out how to determine which one of these should follow the verb stem when you say something in the present tense. Be sure to pick up the FREE PDF, and also try making some sample sentences of your own. Video responses are welcome as well!

Click here to check out the page on 아/어/여 + 요 in Korean Wiki Project.

You can download a free PDF for this lesson here, or if you want to study with our TalkToMeInKorean textbooks, you can get them here. And after you learn the basics, try writing your own Korean sentences and get corrections from native speakers through HaruKorean, our 1:1 correction service.

  • svea

    이책은 읽어요.
    부산 가요.

    I hope this is correct :)

    • YK Yim

      It should be “이 책을 읽어요”, “부산 가요” is correct by the way.

  • amelia

    can you use present tense for commands? like 먹어요 -> (you) eat!

  • amelia

    i dont understand the rule you mentioned about the noun in front of 해요 turns into the verb. studying, cooking, etc. are all verbs to begin with?

    • Guest

      If you want to turn “cooking” into “to cook” you can just simply add 해다 to “cooking”

  • Paradise

    안녕 하세요!
    I liked it ,well it needs some practise to get used to it but it’s easier than other conjugations like in french for every pronoun there’s a specific ending part in each tense and a lot of irregular verbs . Anyway I loved it keep going on .
    감사함니다 :)

  • Annupro

    In writing, we have to write 봐요 or 보아요
    by the way, 감사합니다 for your great lesson

    • 애슐리

      봐요 ! :)

  • Ghie Johansson

    May I just ask, when will you use ㅕ& ㅛ?

  • Ghie Johansson

    May I just ask, what is the difference of [eo] from [o] & [yeo] from [yo]? :(

    • Manuel

      the difference is really the pronunciation.
      [eo] sounds more like “uh” pronounced in english.
      [o] sounds more like “oh” pronounced in english.
      Same for [yeo] = “yuh” and [yo] = “yo”

      For example, Hyunwoo’s last name is spelled [Seon] in korean, but is pronounced more like “Sun.” :P

      Hope this helps :)

  • Linda Zze

    i really hate to conjugate in English and French , but in Korean is soo fuunn ! i love it ! Thank you!

  • 애슐리

    is it true that, when the last letter is “ㄷ ” you have to change it in “ㄹ ” and add ” ㅓ요 ” so for exemple : 닫다 will be 달어요 ???????????

    • Seokjin Jin

      No, that’s not true. Even 어요 is added, 닫다 will be conjugated to 닫어요.

    • 애슐리

      aw ok, bc I read that on a site but I guess I cant trust it anymore :’)

  • Sari Beth

    Hi, I’m wondering whats the conjugation for 보내다… 보내어요?

    • Seokjin Jin

      It is 보내요. :)

    • Juanis

      Why isnt it 보내어요???

    • Seokjin Jin

      Actually, it was 보내어요 long time ago but for the easy pronounciation, it has changed to 보내요.

  • Bre

    What about 행복 해요? Is it an irregularity?

    • Seokjin Jin

      As the verb stem is 행복하, it was confugated to 행복하여요 but overtime, it became 행복해요.

  • Joshua Grootveld

    So, if the verb stem CONTAINS the vowel ㅏ or ㅗ (what you guys say in the podcast), you use 아요. That’s what i’m understanding from this lesson. Because in the beginning you guys mention 좋다 and that it conjugates into 좋아요 even though the LAST character of the verb stem is a consonant (ㅎ). so you always look at the last VOWEL. (that’s what the pdf says.)

    Does this sound correct?

    • Seokjin Jin

      Yes. unless the verb stem is 하, you can decide whether to use 아요 or 어요 by checking the vowel.

  • Vergil

    Is it correct to say: 존댓말 재밌어요 말해요 (it is fun to speak 존댓말)?

    • Vergil

      Actually, wouldn’t it be: 존댓말 말하다 재밌어요 ?
      I think I confused myself again haha

    • Seokjin Jin

      You can use 존댓말하다 or 존댓말로 말하다. :)

    • Seokjin Jin

      It is 존댓말로 말하는 건 재미있어요. :) Nice try.

  • Yoongi

    For boayo and bwayo, is it written as boayo or bwayo?

    • Juanis

      bwayo :) Use the pdf to guide you!

  • Fin Yeon

    자다 becomes 자요, which expresses I/he/she/they/we/it sleeps/sleep. Can “he/she/etc is/are sleeping” be expressed the same way? Or is it expressed differently?

  • Nadya_V14

    Help me please! How to say the verb 사다 in present tense? Will it be 사요 ? Or is this incorrect?

    • Seokjin Jin

      사요 is correct. :)

    • Nadya_V14

      감사합니다!!! ^^))

  • Nadya_V14

    Somebody!!! Please! Answer my question.. It is important…T_T

  • Nadya_V14

    Help me please! 비싸요 or 비싸예요? Which word is correct and why? >_<

    • Wei Yi

      비싸다 means to be expensive, so when you say 비싸요 it means I am/he is/she is etc. expensive. If you say 비싸예요 you use 비싸 as a adjective, so 비싸예요 means it’s expensive. :)

    • YK Yim

      “비싸요” is correct. We can use this both to the product and also to the person. There is no such word like “비싸예요” in South Korea. I don’t know the reason why. Hope the teacher can explain it to you.

  • Kael

    Had to come back here and learn the present and past tense after listening to Level 2 Lesson 23! I forget things really easily.. good thing I can review from these 2 lessons! Thank you TTMIK!

  • Sophie

    It is so awesome that you often have a lot of cool stories like the sound of a train for the number chil + pal. I really like it ‘cuz after that I can remember it much easier. :-) Gamsahamnida for your sweet work!

  • Wei Yi

    So…. does basically every verb ends with 해요 in the Present Tense or not?
    I’m kinda confused right now >.<

    • Seokjin Jin

      Yes, every verb ends with -아/어요 in the present tense.

  • Juanis

    So if o dont remember how to say “To go” can i just use “going” and add ha-da to it?

    • Seokjin Jin

      Hm… Concerning “to go” and “going”, I don’t know which Korean words you think. I am sorry. :(

  • Juanis

    If someones ask me if i like something can i answer with “i do” (hae-yo) or do i just have to say “yes” (nae) ?

    • Seokjin Jin

      Simply, you can say “네”.

    • Juanis

      But can i also hae-yo?

    • YK Yim

      If you want to use “hae-yo” ending to mean that you like something, then you could simply say “좋아해요”.

  • masdo12

    안녕하세요. Well firstly id like to say that your lessons are very helpful. My question was that if the 여요 ending in present tense is only used for 하다 then how does it get used for

    • 아싸

      I’m not Korean speaker so i can only guess, but as long as i understand if the ending is 이 after conjugating it usually becomes 여요. And 보여요 sounds way more natural than 보이어요.

    • YK Yim

      That’s right 아싸.

  • Nehemiah


  • Pingback: Present Tense | Hanguk Babble

  • Kate Hesketh

    It’s probably a little sad how happy I get with conjugation! Thank you guys so much for this episode, have been using it as a bible every since I got here (Hello and belated thanks to 현우 who spoke at the TalK orientation on 제주도 btw). Thank you again! xxx

  • Lovely Nody (나다)

    It’s not hard !! :)
    어 나도 2pm을 좋아요 ! And alot of korean bands too specially ( suju – cnblue – snsd – apink ) !! I’m a big fan for k-pop and k-dramas ! ^^

    Mmmmm anyway …
    So 보이디 will be 보여요 ?!
    Did i even write it correctly ?!

    And i have another question ^^
    Is there any difference between saying the verb with (아요-어요) and (아해요-어해요) ?!
    좋아해요 , 좋아요
    읽어요 , 읽어해요

  • Nancy Hea

    what is the present tense of hit?

    • Jay

      치어요? Not sure though.

  • Random Student

    I got a question. For 바쁘다(busy), because it ends with a ㅡ(eu), shouldn’t it end with ~어요? But 바쁘어요 sounds strange. How do i say it correctly?

    • Jacko

      I probably shouldn’t be advertising another website on this site but we’re all here to do one thing, learn Korean. So to answer your question here’s a website I used to deal with irregular conjugations.


      That is the section on the irregular conjugation of stems that end in ㅡ. These are for verbs only I think so don’t do this with adjectives. However not all of these conjugations on the page are specifically for verbs, some are for adjectives aswell. If you can’t visit the site I’ll let you know here but even then I recommend you do so do more or less grass the concept of this.

      With 바쁘 the second last vowel is ㅏ, therefore we remove the ㅡ and replace it with ㅏ so it becomes 바빠.

      저는 바빠요 – I’m busy.

      Thats a brief take on it. If you want to understand it properly definately visit the page. Hope this helped.


  • Yuan

    Can I know which dictionary is recommended for us to learn more korean? Someone please tell me

  • Hill K.

    나는 한국을 좋아해요. 나는 한국어를 배워요. 더 배우고 싶어요. 선생님 감사합니다 :)