Korean: About adjectives(형용사) honorific,아/어요


The Korean adjectives have the same rules as the verbs for the honorific 아/어요. Use '아요' when the vowel is 'ㅏ, ㅗ'. When the vowel is not 'ㅏ, ㅗ', '어요' is used. There are also irregular adjectives that require additional attention. 으 irregular adjectives, 르 irregular adjectives, and ㅂ irregular adjectives.

If you are using Chrome or an Android phone, you can listen to the pronunciation by clicking on the Korean in the table or the Korean in the example sentences in the article!

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

The Korean adjectives have the same rules as the verbs for the honorific 아/어요.
Use 아요 when the vowel is "ㅏ, ㅗ".
When the vowel is not "ㅏ, ㅗ", 어요 is used.
There are also irregular adjectives that require additional attention.

About the vowel and consonant of Hangul, please see 2020 Basic Korean: Pronunciation of the Korean Alphabet(Hangul).

아/어요

As mentioned in 2020 Basic Korean: Pronunciation of the Korean Alphabet(Hangul), there are also words of respect and humility in Korean, so you should use them according to the situation.
It should be used according to the occasion, but 아/어요 is a polite term used in everyday life (in informal situations), and can be used when talking to elders or people you don't know very well.

Before introducing 아/어요,해요, let's explain stem (the core of the word).

The prototypes of verbs and adjectives in the Korean language are composed as follows.

stem + 다

So, what remains after removing 다 from a prototypical verb or adjective is the stem, which represents the most important part of a word.

Once you understand the definition of stem, let's move on to the usage of 아/어요.

① adjective stem + 아요

② adjective stem + 어요

How to decide which one to use?
It is usually determined by the vowel of the stem.

③ irregular adjectives
Any words that do not conform to rule (1) or (2) fall into this category, and are called irregular adjectives, which require extra attention.

This category can be subdivided into 으 irregular adjectives, 르 irregular adjectives, and ㅂ irregular adjectives.

Use 아요 if vowel is ㅏ,ㅗ

Here's a table of 아요 adjectives.
(For Android phone or computer users, click on the text to hear the pronunciation.)

prototype아요
good좋다좋아요
small작다 작아요
many많다 많아요
cheap싸다 싸요
expensive비싸다비싸요
high높다 높아요
low낮다 낮아요

Use 어요 if vowel is not ㅏ,ㅗ

Here's a table of 어요 adjectives.
(For Android phone or computer users, click on the text to hear the pronunciation.)

prototype어요
long길다 길어요
late늦다 늦어요
slow느리다 느려요
far멀다 멀어요
delicious맛있다 맛있어요
funny재미있다 재미있어요
not funny재미없다 재미없어요

으 irregular adjectives

The adjectives ending with "ㅡ" are 으 irregular adjectives.
When the word is transformed into the요 type, ** after removing the ㅡ, if the former vowel is "ㅏ,ㅗ" then use 아요, else use 어요.**.

Here some examples.

prototype요 type
bad나쁘다 나빠요
big크다 커요

르 irregular adjectives

The adjectives ending with "르" are 르 irregular adjectives.
When the word is transformed into the요 type, ** after removing the ㅡ, ㄹ will be combined to the former word, and if the former vowel is "ㅏ,ㅗ" then use 라요, else use 러요.**.

Let's see some examples.

prototype요 type
fast빠르다 빨라요
early이르다 일러요

ㅂ irregular adjectives

The adjectives ending with "ㅂ" are ㅂ irregular adjectives.
When the word is transformed into the요 type, after removing "ㅂ", add "워요".

Note that for the adjective 곱다(beautiful), remove the word "ㅂ" and add "워요".
The same rule applies to the verb 돕다(to help).

prototype요 type
hot덥다 더워요
cold춥다 추워요
near가깝다 가까워요
difficult어렵다 어려워요
easy쉽다 쉬워요
beautiful곱다 고와요

Contrast of Commonly Used Adjectives

good, bad좋다 나쁘다
big, small크다 작다
many, few많다 적다
long, short길다 짧다
high, low높다 낮다
cheap, expensive싸다 비싸다
early, late이르다 늦다
near, far가깝다 멀다
difficult, easy어렵다 쉽다
fast, slow빠르다 느리다
delicious, not delicious맛있다 맛없다
funny, not funny재미있다재미없다

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