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.


  • Matt

    From the examples in the lesson it seems that when a verb stem ends in a vowel there is a “merging” with the 아/어 of the conjugation. The examples given were:

    가 + 아요 = 가요 (ㅏ + 아 = ㅏ)
    보 + 아요 = 봐요 (ㅗ + 아 = ㅘ)
    보이 + 어요 = 보여요 (ㅣ + 어 = 여)

    Does this hold for ㅓ, ㅜ and ㅡ as well?

    어 + 어요 = 어요 (ㅓ + 어 = 어)
    우 + 어요 = 워요 (ㅜ + 어 = ㅝ)
    으 + 어요 = ?

    수업이 이해해요. 희망해요. = I understand the lesson. I hope.

    감사합니다 for the lesson!

    • metal_samurai

      yes it holds true for ㅓand ㅜ. ㅡ is trickier, and how it is handled depends on the rest of the verb stem. i’m sure they cover that in a later lesson

    • Matt

      감사합니다 for your reply and explanation metal_samurai.

  • Myla Rose

    Hi! Im having a hard time conjugating these verbs to present tense and past tense. Please help me. The verbs are:
    빌리다
    기다리다
    마시다
    쯔다

    감사함니다!! ^_^

    • David

      빌리다+어=빌리어=빌려
      기다리+어=기다리어=기다려
      마시+어=마셔
      쯔다=쩌다

      The first 3 are regular verbs. So basically you just add the respective 어/아, 어 in all these cases. When read naturally, the 이 combines naturally with the 어 to give 여. I’ve never actually seen the fourth verb before, neither can I find it in the dictionary. However if it were to be conjugated it would be as shown above. Since the vowel is ㅡ and not 아/오 we add 어 and remove the ㅡ. This happens for all verbs in the infinitive form with a ㅡ. Such as 크다->커, 쓰다->써.

    • Myla Rose

      I made a mistake on the fourth word.. 죄송합니다! It should be 쓰다 meaning to write.. i really appreciate your explanation. Now i understand it more.. 감사합니다 David!!

  • Allyson

    So if I were to say ‘Cheongsoheyo’ could that mean ” Let’s clean” ?

    • KyungHwa Sun

      That’s right. =)

    • Bads

      Can it be cheonsoayo only or not?

  • mary

    I have a question, if i want to say 밥 해요 없어요, meaning I dont have to do rice, its correct or not?

    • KyungHwa Sun

      I don’t have to cook rice. = 밥 지을/할 필요 없어요.

  • Iman

    You said 보어요 so why did you magically change 어 to 여…..어 isn’t 여….보이>보어요 아닌데? It’s really confusing how you just changed the 어 to 여 ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠ

  • Imani

    You said 보어요 so why did you magically change 어 to 여…..어 isn’t 여….보이>보어요 It’s really confusing how you just changed the 어 to 여 ㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠ sorry i messed up my last question:) i took out the 아닌데 because it doesn’t make senseㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

    • Seokjin Jin

      Long time ago, it was like 보이어요 but for the easy pronounce, it changed to 보여요.

    • Lilia

      We learnt its rule in an early lesson; if I’m not mistaken if the verb stem ends with consonant, then it will be o-yo, but if it ends with vowel, it would automatically change to yo-yo. (sorry, idk how to make korean keyboard)

  • jackyyii

    Hi! Just wanna ask, since study and cook are both verbs in English, why don’t we say 공부어요 or 요리어요/요려요? I know it sounds weird but why not? Hope someone will reply!! :))
    감사합니다!!~

  • Caroline Mingoti

    Thank you guys so much, I loved it!

  • Marik

    could u say “Sa-rang-hada” instead of “Sa-rang ha-yeo-yo ” and it would still mean the same?

    • Seokjin Jin

      사랑하다 that you wrote first sounds like dictionary form. When you want to say it, you should say 사랑해요.

  • 얀니

    안녕하세요. 저는 얀니이에요.
    I have a question; in case of verb 마시다, the past simple of it is 마서요 or 마시어요?
    감사합니다.

    • Riccardo

      its 마셔요, because you need to combine 시 and 어, and it forms syo

  • 얀니

    네. 감사합니다.

  • Gaby Bosco

    So to say “I watch TV”, would i say 저 텔레비전 보여요? or just 텔레비전 보여요?

    Thank you for the lessons! 감사합니다!

    • Bill L.

      I would say 저 테레비전 봐요 because it looks like you got 보이다 and 보다 mixed up. 보다 is to watch there fore its conjigated form would be 보아다 which becomes 봐다

    • Gaby Bosco

      Oh i get it i did mixed those up haha thank you for pointing it out! it would be 봐요 then, thank you!

  • Ellis

    Annyeonghaseyo! :)

    Can you help me with something? I just don’t know, how to say 쓰다 in present tense and past tense… Thank you! :)

    • FinalWholockianGrrlGamer

      Sorry, late reply. The present tense of 쓰다 would be 쓰어요. I don’t know how to conjugate in past tense.

  • sibel

    Hello,
    I have a question. :)
    먹어요 It means “I eat, She eats” etc.
    So, If I want to say “I eat pizza.” Would I say 저 피자 먹어요 or just 피자 먹어요 ?
    I understood (in present time and in polite language) that there’s no need to conjugate the verb for each subject.(ex: I eat, She eats.) Is it true?
    Finally, your lessons are really EXCELLENT!
    감사합니다

  • Jason Vega

    hello i have a question re: the spelling of ut-da. why is the character for the “t” sound in “ut” written as “ㅅ”, shouldnt it be “ㅌ” or “ㄷ”? I thought “ㅅ” was an “s” sound although i see it shares the same key on the keyboard as “t”. Im really confused.

    • FinalWholockianGrrlGamer

      Sorry late reply… “ㅅ” is the Korean equivalent of S, but at the end of a syllable it often sounds like a T. In Korean you can never pronounce a consonant by itself, so at the end of a syllable it is almost silent. In the case of “ㅅ”, is ends up sounding like a T unless the next syllable starts with a vowel.

  • U.K. ali

    I have a question,

    So i heard in a song that the way to say stop it is Hajima,
    and the way to say please is Chebal,

    is it true?

    also how do you say oh my god in korean?

    • JooyeonPark

      Yes and yes. correct.
      and about the third question, we don’t really have a equivalent word for “oh my god”. humm… there is a little bit similar word which is “맙소사” but i personally never heard someone saying that. haha

  • U.K. ali

    what does 사랑해요 translate into? like “Love- i- do?”

    • cmykevin

      It basically means to “do love”, which translates into English as “I love you.” Similarly, to do cooking “yorihaeyo” translates as “I cook” (or he/she/it/they/we etc cook).

  • Asmaa

    TTMIK 사랑해요

    • JooyeonPark

      사랑해요! :)

  • Jenny park

    So how do you say “like a man?” Is it 남 자 답 게?” Thanks!

  • Kat

    This lesson certainly cleared up a lot of things for me! :) I love how amazing this website is as well as how much it is teaching me that I’m actually retaining! I have a quick question, however.

    So, to say ‘I love you,’ it is ‘사랑해요.’ I have always heard ‘사랑해.’ So, basically, the 요 (which must give the word its formality) is being dropped there. With that being said, which would you actually say to someone that you love? Does 사랑해요 have a more serious tone behind it, versus 사랑해 which maybe is more of a cutesy, friend kind of love? …Maybe I’m looking way too into this! >.<

    • JooyeonPark

      First of all, Thanks for your kind words :)

      and about the question, “사랑해” and “사랑해요” is the same thing. it’s just “사랑해” is 반말 and “사랑해요” is 존댓말. Both can be very romantic, and “사랑해” is not neccessarily like friend kind of love. It can be used between couple in a romantic way.
      Hope it’s helpful! :)

    • Kat

      Thank you for answering so quickly~ that certainly helped! :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/yinara94 Noor M. Ahmed

    안녕하세요 TTMIK 사랑해요 <3

  • 조비

    Does this apply to every verb? I was pretty sure 하다 was 해요 and that 좋아하다 was 좋아해요 in present tense, but now I’m not sure

    • 조비

      Oh, nevermind, I didn’t listen to the entire lesson!

  • Lilia

    Please help, I don’t get this part. You said a Noun + ‘Hada’ = Verb. But you gave an example, “Studying + Hada = to Study.” But isn’t Studying already a verb? I’m really confused D:

    So if I wanna say, “I want to study” in korean, what is it?

    (Sorry I don’t have korean keyboard)

    • 3k

      공부를 하고 싶어요..or 공부하고 싶어요.. (i want to study)

  • Seth Jin Bowman

    I understand the 2 examples but the 3rd example I don’t understand. I wish to give you some words but I can’t now my laptop is being worked on and it has Hanguel stickers on the keyboard:)

  • Nate

    Since it was mentioned, I have a question about the word ‘together’.
    What’s the difference between the one you used ‘같이’ (gati) and the one I’ve heard about ‘함께’ (hamkke)?

  • PenguinBeng

    Please correct me if I’m wrong
    (Order from casual to formal)

    Tired: 피곤하다
    피곤해
    피곤해요
    피곤는다?
    피곤습니다

  • Bruno

    Dont forget it…
    ㅏ, ㅗ, ㅏ, ㅗ, ㅏ, ㅗ, ㅏ, ㅗ, ㅏ…..
    감사합니다!!!

  • Maria Larsen

    사과 사요. 천오백 원 비용해요.
    I buy an apple. It costs 1500 won. (idk what an apple costs. I heard fruit is expensive in Korea)`

    Is this correct?

  • StarSuga

    지금 한국어를 공부해요