Korean: ㄹ/을 수 있다 | can/can’t in Korean


This article explains the possible types of expressions such as 'can do' and 'can't do'. The rules are quite simple and can be used immediately after learning them.

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

This article explains the possible types of expressions such as "can do" and "can't do". The rules are quite simple and can be used immediately after learning them.

Verb + ㄹ/을 수 있다

The Korean word for "can do ~, can ~" is ㄹ/을 수 있다 followed by the verb.

verb's stem + ㄹ/을 수 있다

When the stem ends in a vowel, use ㄹ 수 있다.
When the stem ends in a consonant, use 을 수 있다.

EnglishKoreancan
eat먹다먹을 수 있다
play놀다놀 수 있다
drink마시다마실 수 있다
go가다갈 수 있어요

Sentences

일본어는 할 수 있습니다.

I can speak Japanese.

기타 칠 수 있습니다.

I can play guitar

운전은 할 수 있습니다.

I can drive.

책을 쓸 수 있습니다.

I can write a book.

Negation Expression | ㄹ/을 수 없다

The Korean usage for "can't ~ " is to add "ㄹ/을 수 없다" to the end of the verb.
That is, "있다" is replaced by "없다".

verb's stem + ㄹ/을 수 없다

When the stem ends in a vowel, use ㄹ 수 없다.
When the stem ends in a consonant, use 을 수 없다.

Sentences

술을 마실 수 없습니다.

I can't drink alcohol.

매운 것을 먹을 수 없습니다.

I can't eat spicy food.

Negation Expression | 못

A more common way to say "can't" is to use "못".
The usage of 못 is discussed in Korean: Negative expression 못 vs 안, so you can review it again.

Sentence

술을 못 마신다.

I can't drink alcohol.

매운 것을 못 먹다.

I can't eat spicy food.

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