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.

  • Arpi M-yan

    학교 가고 싶어요 (I want to go to school) is it right??
    correct me please >_<

    • Hayden Rogue

      학교에 가고 싶어요.
      Besides forgetting to put the destination particle, your statement is correct. : )

  • Connie

    오늘 신 더 읽고 싶어요.
    Did I got it right?

  • Jason Sultana

    What about haseyo? As in anyong haseyo? How is that different from 해요?

    • Nick

      I’m pretty sure -세요 is a suffix that basically changes the verb into a command / request to the listener. I think it’s called the imperative form.

      So 주다 = to give, while 주세요 = [please] give me
      and 하다 = to do, while 하세요 = [please] do.

      Which is why it is “안녕하세요.” You are instructing or requesting (-세요) your listener to do or have (하-) well-being (안녕). Something like saying “be well,” but literally “do/have wellness.”

    • Gabi Rosmari

      하세요 is formal, while 해 es informal, and 해요 is little less informal, but you should never use 해요 to adults o superiors!

  • Baruna Riotama

    Does korean verb come always at the end of sentence?
    could it be possible for it to appear at the middle of a sentence? if
    so, what particles do we need to transform the verb?
    thank you in advance.
    P.S. actually i’ve asked this to one of my fellow friend, but while waiting for his reply, I think it is good to ask to everybody, thus I can get more responses from you guys at various proficiency level.

    • Gabi Rosmari

      Hi! No! The verb must always be at the end of the sentence.

    • Kenny Lau

      The main verb is always at the end of the sentence. If your sentence is made of multiple sentences then of course some verbs would be in the middle.

  • janooooooo

    that is so hard >_<

  • 코코몽

    In Norwegian we say “bøying” which literally translates to bending verbs.
    I was wondering, I’ve heard people say just 가!, so I’m guessing this is either rude or something you say to close friends? 빨리 가! Haha :p
    I will practice this thoroughly, I want to learn!!

    • Kenny Lau

      가요 is the polite form. To make the informal form, just drop the 요. This applies to (almost) every verb.

  • Loi Shang

    안녕하세요 🙂

    Check this for me please.
    Some of the verb that i changed into present tense but I’m not sure if they are correct.

    And also i noticed that when the verb stem’s last vowel is “l” it is followed by “여요”.
    For example:
    I’m i right?

    • JooyeonPark

      걷다 –> 걸어요
      주다 –> 주어요 –> 줘요
      돕다 –> 도와요
      Other than that, they are perfect! 🙂

    • Loi Shang

      감사합니다. ^^

  • Suga Swag

    A : 지금 뭐해요? (What are you doing now?)
    B : 음악을 듣어요 (I’m listening to music.)

    Am I correct?

  • Sharmane Amago

    This is so helpful, I love it! I’ve been looking for websites that will help me learn Korean and it bored me or confused me more eventually. But this one! This is so easy to understand, not boring, very informative. 정말 감사합니다!~^^

    • Seokjin Jin

      Thanks for your comment, yay! The following lessons must be fun, too! Go for it!

  • Hero

    걷다 -> 걷어요
    더하다 –> 더하여요
    담다 –> 담어요
    돕다 –> 돕어요


    • Gabi Rosmari

      Hi… well… you’ve chosen all irregular verbs!
      걷다 -> 걷어요 x -> 걸어요
      더하다 –> 더해요
      담다 –> 담어요 x -> 담아요
      돕다 –> 도와요

    • Hero

      Ah! Darn irregulars >_< I will practice more! 감사합니다!

  • Melanie Malaluan

    How to say “I got things to do”

    • Kenny Lau

      You can say “바빠요” which means “I am busy” (I translated according to meaning).

      If you want to translate that literally, it would be “할 필요가있는 것(을) 있어요” which means “there are things I need to do.”

  • Melanie Malaluan

    How to say calling, eating, going, coming. Etc.

    • Kenny Lau

      The verbs in their dictionary forms are 부르다/먹다/가다/오다.

      If you are referring to the action, they would be 부르기/먹기/가기/오기.

      If you are referring to the present continuous tense, they would be 부르고 있어요/먹고 있어요/가고 있어요/오고 있어요.

  • Minji

    Hi! I love your lessons! But there’s one thing I’m confused about. I learned by another video by someone else that instead of the ending 여요 you would use 해요? What’s the difference or which should you use??

    • Kenny Lau

      해요 is ten times more often used than 하여요.

  • Grace Jin

    안녕하세요! Thank you for your lessons! May I know what is the present tense of 내다? 🙂 And is the present tense of 아니다: 1) 아녀요 or 2) 아니요?

    • yara nabil

      When saying/speaking “no” for question, you can say “아니요(No)” or “아니오”. We Korean often say “아니오”, The latter “아니오” isn’t right in grammar, though.

      Otherwise, “아니-에요” is conjugated form of “아니다”.

      아니-어요(아녀요). or 아니-에요.

      for example,

      이것은 책입니까? Is this a book?
      아니요. 이것은 책이 아니에요. No, this is not a book
      예, 이것은 책이에요. Yes, this is a book.

      도와주셔서 감사합니다. Thank you for helping me.
      아니에요. 별일 아닙니다. (it is) Not at all, it’s no big deal. (not 아니요).

    • Kenny Lau

      The present tense of 내다 is 내요.
      The present tense of 아니다 is 아니에요. 아녀요 and 아니요 are wrong.

  • initale

    Thank you for the awesome lessons! I’m eagerly awaiting my first books :-). In the meantime, I have a question about the 어요 ending and how it works with been stems ending in 이.

    In the PDF, I see the combination of of 보이 + 어요 = 모여요. Do all verb stems ending in 이 become 여 when combined with 어?


    • Chikim

      Yes, this is right^^

  • Guys, don’t be confused with verb stems ending in ㅣ. Just always remember if a verb stem ends with ㅣ it will ALWAYS be replaced with ㅕ and then add 요 at the end for politeness.

    1. 보이다 (to be seen) becomes 보여요.
    2. 마시다 (to drink) becomes 마셔요.
    3. 기다리다 (to wait) becomes 기다려요.

  • lynnout

    tried a few…

    가다 >> 가요
    먹다 >> 먹어요
    때리다 >> 때러요
    듣다 >> 들어요
    주다 >> 줘요
    만들다 >> 만들어요

    감사합니다~ ^^

    • Kenny Lau


      때리다 >> 때려요/때리어요

  • Nana Atmaja

    I want to ask 듣다 —> 들어요
    But why the tittle of I HEAR YOUR VOICE (drama) is 너의 목소리가 들려, why not 너의 목소리가 들어. Please someone explain it.

    • yara nabil

      ‘듣다’ means ‘hear something’.
      I hear a strange sound. (이상한 소리를 듣다.)
      ‘들리다’ is a passive form of ‘듣다’.
      A strange sound is heard. (이상한 소리가 들리다.)
      i searched for it on google and that’s what i got .. i hope it would be easy for you.

    • Kandace Park

      I’m not sure but I feel like it’s the way it’s pronounced. For it flows with ease on the tongue. Some words are usually typed or spelled the way they are sounded in Korean (not for formal use, though).

  • Anukiraha Uthayarajan

    It’s weird to hear “Yeah right” because in England it is used more sarcastically.

  • Maya Rijkelijkhuizen

    안녕하세요! I tried a few.

    묻다 (mut-da) -> 묻어요 (mut-eo-yo)
    울다 (ul-da) -> 울어요 (ul-eo-yo)
    주다 (ju-da) -> 주어요 (ju-eo-yo)
    사다 (sa-da) -> 사아요 (sa-a-yo)
    마시다 (ma-si-da) -> 마시다 (ma-si-eo-yo)

    Please tell me in hangul and romanized if they are correct or not. I’m not good at hangul just yet, so romanization is very useful for me. 감사합니다!

    • Kandace Park

      주다 becomes 줘요 (jwo-yo)
      마시다 becomes 마셔요 (ma-shyeo-yo)
      However, all the rest are right 🙂 Note that 묻다 has both regular and irregular forms. ~

    • Maya Rijkelijkhuizen

      Thank you 🙂

  • Daniela Arechiga

    So if we are speaking, in order to not make a mistake we have to know how the word is written?, I mean, it’s difficult for me to tell if it’s either ㅗ [o], or ㅓ(eo), they sound the same for me, so if I listen to a verb, and it ends with an “o” sound, I won’t know if I have to use either 아요 or 어요 because I don’t know how it is written, can someone please help with this?

  • Makayla Nicole

    Would 갖다 be an irregular verb? I read that if ㅏ or ㅗ is anywhere in the ending letter of the verb stem, you should use 아요. For example, 앉다 would use 아요 since ㅏ is in 앉, making 앉다 into 앉아요 in present tense. I tried this with 갖다, but when I tried checking myself online through a translator, 갖아요 didn’t translate. Should 갖다 use 아요 or 어요?

    • Wojcik117

      갖다 indeed is supposed to be conjugated into 갖아요.

    • Kenny Lau

      Your translator has some problems. 갖다 is indeed conjugated into 갖아요.

  • Kevin

    So, would “먹어요” be considered a complete sentence then? Like, “I’m eating.”

    • Kenny Lau

      it would mean “I eat” etc.

      “I’m eating” would be 먹고 있어.

    • Kevin

      Isn’t that past tense though? Like I ate, I did eat, I was eating?

    • Kenny Lau

      I eat = 먹어요
      I ate = 먹었어요
      I am eating = 먹고 있어요
      I was eating = 먹고 있었어요

  • Elly Wood

    okay i had a go, let me know if any are wrong please!

    읽다 – 딝어요
    자다 – 자요
    놀다 – 놀아요
    일하다 – 일하요
    쉬다 – 쉬어요/쉬여요??? (I really don’t have a clue about this one lol!)

    thanks in advance 🙂

    • Thu Thuy

      It’s 일해요 and 쉬어요. 🙂