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있다 - Verb Meaning in English & Conjugation

The verb 있다 (pronounced eet-dda), is one of the first and most basic verbs you can and should learn when starting to learn Korean. It is a very versatile verb that you will hear often, and it is combined with a lot of other grammar patterns in Korean. The opposite of this verb is 없다.

Let’s start with the basics.

있다 means to exist, to be, or to have. For example, if you wanted to state the existence or location of something, you could use this verb. You could also use this verb with different times and schedules.

This means that it is frequently used with prepositions like 앞, 위, 뒤, 아래/밑, 옆, 가운데, 안, 밖, and 사이. Remember that these prepositions will have the particle ‘에’ added to them which is used for locations.

If you look at the conjugation chart above, you will see the basic conjugations for the past, present, and future of this verb. Let’s take a look at the example in the graphic:

Example sentence:

고양이가 식탁 위에 있어요. (go-yang-i-ga sik-tak wi-e i-sseo-yo) = The cat is on the table.

Let’s break down the conjugation:

있다 —> take only the verb stem and it becomes 있 —> add the conjugation rule for present tense 있 + 어요 and you get 있어요

You can also see the location particle ‘에’ attached to ‘위’.

Let’s take a look at another example in the infographic:

그 책 어디 있어요? (gue chaek eo-di i-sseo-yo) = Where is the book?

Here, we see the verb being used again in relation to location. However, you might notice that the location particle, ‘에’ is missing. Why is that? While it is grammatically correct to add it, it is usually dropped when following a vowel to flow better and sound more natural.

Let’s a take a look at the next example:

저 여자친구 있어요. (jeo yeo-ja-chin-gu i-sseo-yo) = I have a girlfriend.

Now instead of location, we are using the verb in relation to someone or something that exists.

Now, for the final example in the graphic:

침대 위에 베개가 있어요. (chim-dae wi-e be-gae i-sseo-yo) = There is a pillow on the bed.

Once again, we are referring to location and the same pattern is used.

Now if you wanted to use different tenses like past or present, the same conjugation rules would apply. Just take the verb stem and use the proper conjugation rule for each. We will get into more conjugation rules in future posts. Hope this has helped!



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