Level 6 Lesson 21 / Passive Voice in Korean – Part 1

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In this lesson, we are taking a look at how to make sentences in the “Passive Voice” in Korean. This will be covered through two parts and this is Part 1 of the Passive Voice in Korean lesson. For Part 2, please check out Level 6 Lesson 23!

What is Passive Voice?
Passive voice is a form of sentence in which the focus is on the recipient of an action, rather than the subject. For example, when you *make* something, that something is *made* by you. When you recommend a book to someone, the book *is recommended* by you. That is passive voice, and the opposite of passive voice is active voice.

How to make passive voice sentences in Korean
In English, you change the verb into its “past participle” form and add it after the BE verb, but in Korean you need to conjugate the verb in the “passive voice” form by adding a suffix or a verb ending.

Listen to this lesson to find out how to conjugate a verb into the Passive Voice in Korean!

You can view 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tyler-Smith/100000387228787 Tyler Smith

    어머 제 머리가 너무 아파요!
    I don’t really understand the purpose for passive voice!

  • 파린

    @_@ difficult lesson indeed…

  • Siska

    it’s really difficult…

  • 순수한

    Wow, it sounds interesting. I’m totally looking forward to this lesson! But I have to complete other levels first.

  • Edin

    What about verbs ending in vowels? Will they be covered in part 2?
    Thanks for the lesson!

  • snowz

    I am not able to download the mp3.

    It reads “Unable to download ttmik-16121.mp3 from traffic.libsyn.com.
    The connection with the server was reset”.

    Please assist.


  • Stefano

    문 닫힙니다! Now it makes sense…

    I wish you could come teach English in the States :)


  • Stefano

    oops… I mean teach Korean! (your english is pretty good though… I haven’t heard the word “grammarian” in a while)

  • Samier


    어렵 아니야. 그냥 암기해요 ㅎㅎㅎ


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Icegirl-Caddie-Ying/100001206852199 Icegirl Caddie Ying

    This is really a great lesson!!! ^^

  • Ingrid

    Guys i hope you can make more examples so we can understand a little bit more!!


    • http://twitter.com/ever4one Hyunwoo Sun (선현우)

      We couldn’t make many sentences before doing Part 2 too : ) Part 2 will have many example sentences!

  • Debasish

    I hope to find some applications in sentence (sentence examples) in the next lesson…

    • http://twitter.com/ever4one Hyunwoo Sun (선현우)

      That will be done in the next lesson! : )

  • http://www.facebook.com/people//1160605177 필립

    If it’s hard for you to memorize cases and exceptions, it may help to go by sounds in Korean. For “(2) 히,” instead of memorizing “ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ,” you can lump them together into the group of sounds that change if ㅎ follows them (to ㅋ, ㅌ and , ㅍ sounds–먹히다 sounds like 머키다, etc.). And so maybe our teachers have left out the rarer ㅈ would also be grouped in here. 주사 맞았다 –> 주사 맞혔다.

    [Outside of “ㄱ,ㄷ,ㅂ and ㅈ” (also the top row of consonants on the keyboard excluding ㅅ and whose sounds turn conveniently enough into the bottom row of the keyboard when followed by ㅎ), none of the other consonants change when followed by ㅎ.]

    And if the final consonant is ㄹ, it’s easier to slur it off with a -리 than an -이, I think. And using -기 after ㄹ just seems silly, like adding a syllable for no reason. So going by the sound helps me with that one, too.

    For all vowels and -ㅎ, adding -이 also seems simpler than the other possibilities.

    But the last one, -기, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but at this point you can just get by with it as the “other” category until you get the hang of it, I suppose.^^

    Let me know if that helps and if anyone has any other ways they keep track of these sorts of rules, please let me know~^^^^

    • http://www.facebook.com/people//1160605177 필립

      흑! The example I wrote about 맞다–> 맞히다 is apparently actually not passive but causative, which has a similar set of endings but different rules, which I don’t really understand at all. ^^ But! if I had used 얹다–> 얹히다 or 꽂다–> 꽂히다 the rule would still have applied.

      And then I discovered that if I’d used 찢다 it *wouldn’t* have worked, because the passive form of that verb is 찢기다. Wow! And I found an exception for ㄷ: 뜯다–>뜯기다 (not 뜯히다 like I would have expected). And I’m not quite clear on 붙이다 and how it fits into things either. So never mind. Passive’s bloomin’ tough.^^

  • wintergreen

    어려운 문법부분을 자세히 설명해 주셔서 정말 감사합니다! ^^
    파트 2 기대가 많이 됩니다.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Grace-Tan/675388801 Grace Tan

    Thx for the lesson. I think having sample sentences and comparing the active vs passive voice using sample sentences might make it a lot easier to understand. Hope to see those when you guys find time for it. Thx for the hard work! The double passive is kinda tricky. Does it only work for certain words?

  • Kendall Rice

    Wow, so thorough! Thanks for this great lesson! I found the rules for which of 이, 히, 리, and 기 to use after which 받침 very helpful.

    I have to disagree with you on one point, though. The double passive -아/어/여지다 may be widely used, but it’s definitely incorrect and doesn’t deserve to be recognized or taught as proper Korean, now or ever. It’s wrong for the same reason that double negatives are wrong in English: only one is required, so the second one is meaningless. Using a word meaninglessly cheapens its meaning, and that makes it harder, not easier, for everyone to understand. People who want to be sure their passive meaning comes across should take extra care to use the correct forms correctly—not twice.

    Despite quibbling over that, though, I’m always grateful to you guys for the wonderful work you do. I’ve made great strides in Korean thanks to y’all. Keep it up!

  • http://theimaginationasylum.wordpress.com Wesley Mark Lincoln

    Thanks for the amazing lesson! But if you don’t mind, I have a question… Does it mean that 먹히다 and 먹어지다 have the exact same meaning and usage? And how do you say, for example, “The food was eaten by me?” Thanks!

    • 학생

      There’s no such thing as 먹어지다.
      먹는 게 나한테 먹혔다.
      Some verbs are changed with with 히 이 리 and 기, and the rest with 아어여지다, but not both.

      oops.. it’s from december 2011 TT

    • 학생

      Ah there’s actually some verbs that can be changed in both ways, but 먹다 not one of them.
      And was eaten by me is 먹는 게 나한테 먹혀 있었다
      먹는 게 나한테 먹혔다 is it was being eated by me
      But not sure as I didn’t study english grammar and it’s not my native :P

  • Ed

    There were some example sentences spoke in the mp3 – it would’ve been nice to have them in pdf. But the explanations here were well done, I didn’t find it as difficult as I had feared. Thanks!

  • krin

    i am bit confused in using the double passive voice.: ..mm……will 먹히다 be 먹허지다?

  • Andrew

    if you change a word to passive tense present form
    먹다 -> 먹히다 to be eaten 빵이 먹혀요
    then, is “to be eaten” in the past tense
    빵이 먹혔어요
    any different?
    is there a difference between passive present tense, passive past tense and passive future tense?

    • http://twitter.com/jinseokjin jinseokjin

      Hi Andrew,

      passive present tense – (빵이) 먹혀요
      passive past tense – (빵이) 먹혔어요
      passive future tense – (빵이) 먹힐 거예요

      The expressions are different each other.

      Thanks for your comment. :)