In this question, another user kindly fixed my misspelling - 움지기다 - to the correct form - 움직이다.

When I misspell a word using the wrong consonant or vowel, I think - OK, I just have to listen more carefully. But in such cases as the one above, it seems a bit 'unfair' that I have to remember if there's a null (ㅇ) in the word or not.

Are there any rules of thumb I can use to guess whether a consonant will be a final 받침 followed by ㅇ as the start of the next block (e.g. '직이'), or without the null (e.g. '지기')?

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    You made it. I will answer after a few answers are posted. – user7 Sep 18 '16 at 13:31
  • @topomorto An hour after answering, I'm now wondering if what you wanted was a way to understand why this is rather than how to remember it as suggested by the title. Is that correct? – busukxuan Sep 18 '16 at 15:40
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    @busukxuan if there's something fundamental I can learn/understand, that would probably be a good aid to remembering! On the other hand, English learners are given advice like "I before E except after C", which is no aid to understanding anything, but still a useful mnemonic. Rathony (in the linked question) suggested "Most of the time, it is wrong if you write it as it sounds", which sounded interesting. Any advice on this aspect of spelling would be helpful. – topo Reinstate Monica Sep 18 '16 at 16:03
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    @topomorto I expanded my answer to include another section that deals with the more logical/rules/why stuff, hope it's closer to what you asked. – busukxuan Sep 18 '16 at 17:09
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    @busukxuan it is, but it's still all helpful. Thanks! – topo Reinstate Monica Sep 18 '16 at 17:16

/움지기다/ is written as '움직이다' because:

"‘움직이다’는 시늉말 어근에 ‘-이다’가 붙어서 된 용언이다. 이때는 어원을 밝히어 적는다. 따라서 ‘움직이다’로만 적는다. 출처: 한글 맞춤법 4장 3절 24항" - Naver dictionary

'움직이다' is a verb which is formed by attaching the suffix '-이다' to a imitative stem. In this case you clarify the original form. So it's only written as '움직이다'.

한글 맞춤법 4장 3절 24항 (Paragraph #24, Section 3 "접미사가 붙어서 된 말" words with suffixes, Chapter 4 "형태에 관한 것" rules about forms from Hangul Orthography) states:

‘- 거리다’가 붙을 수 있는 시늉말 어근에 ‘- 이다’가 붙어서 된 용언은 그 어근을 밝히어 적는다.(ㄱ을 취하고, ㄴ을 버림.)

    ㄱ          ㄴ          ㄱ          ㄴ
    깜짝이다    깜짜기다    속삭이다    속사기다
    꾸벅이다    꾸버기다    숙덕이다    숙더기다
    끄덕이다    끄더기다    울먹이다    울머기다
    뒤척이다    뒤처기다    움직이다    움지기다
    들먹이다    들머기다    지껄이다    지꺼리다
    망설이다    망서리다    퍼덕이다    퍼더기다
    번득이다    번드기다    허덕이다    허더기다
    번쩍이다    번쩌기다    헐떡이다    헐떠기다

A word which became a verb/adjective whose stem can be attached to '-거리다', attached to the suffix '-이다', is written clarifying the original stem form. (take ㄱ, and discard ㄴ.)

So basically, the stem 움직 can be attached to '거리다', as in '움직거리다' (move about). So when the suffix '-이다' is attached to it, you keep the original stem form.

The explanation for this rule is:

접미사 ‘-이다’는 규칙적으로 널리(여러 어근에) 결합한다. 예컨대 ‘꾸벅하다, 꾸벅거리다, 꾸벅이다’처럼 나타나는 형식에서 실질 형태소인 ‘꾸벅’의 형태가 고정되지 않으면, 의태어(擬態語)인 ‘꾸벅꾸벅’과의 연관성이 이해되기 어려워진다. 그리하여 어근과 ‘이다’가 구별되게 적는 것이다.

The suffix '-이다' is regularly applied to many stems. For example, if the stem form '꾸벅' is not fixed in the forms '꾸벅하다, 꾸벅거리다, 꾸벅이다', it makes it harder to understand and relate to the imitative word '꾸벅꾸벅'. That's why it's written in the way that the stem '꾸벅' is separated from the suffix '-이다'.

There are a lot of similar rules. But the rule that governs all over them is "write so it's easier to see the original word structure, unless its meaning diverged a lot from the original stem.".

So 깍두기 not written as '깍둑이' because its meaning has little to do with the original stem "깍둑".

  • I think moving everything below "The explanation for this rule is:" to the top and moving the elaboration on the function of "-이다" to the bottom might help make this answer feel more straight to the point, while keeping the "-이다" elaboration as bonus information. That's just my opinion tho :-) – busukxuan Sep 19 '16 at 5:09

Some tips (?)

I'm not confident enough to claim that these are legitimate tip, but they work for me so far. 움직이다 is the only word I initially thought was weird, because "직이" just didn't feel right when I was under the impression that this was a "monolithic" word. The reason I felt "직이" wasn't right was that tip 1: usually (IMHO) spellings only become complex if they ever make a difference, so if this had been a monolithic word there was no point to make final and add a null since the pronunciation would be the same anyway.

Upon further investigation though, the word is in fact formed by 움직 + 이다, so tip 1 actually applies: it doesn't make a difference in pronunciation, but it does make a difference in the meaning. Since Hangul is morphophonemic the spelling actually determines the meaning correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not a linguistics expert. If you know the root 움직 (something to do with moving) it probably wouldn't be hard to remember. Other words with 움직 include 움직거리다, 움직씨 and 움직대다. So, you are probably doing it already, but I'll mention it anyway - tip 2: understanding why a word has its meanings might help.

Note: On first sight a word like 닭 might look like its ㄹ is redundant and tip 1 doesn't apply, but don't forget that it does make a difference once you add a case marker like 이.


Personally, when I speak or listen to anything, I would automatically think of the spelling. This is sort of a habit and I need to pay attention to my own thought process to notice that I'm actually thinking about the spelling. When I speak a word, instead of remembering and speaking how the word sounds, I would try to speak the spelling, do sound changes (assimilation, liquidation, etc.) on the fly, and then speak it. For example, when I say 생각나다, I would first try to say saenggaknada, but I would correct ㄱㄴ into ㅇㄴ right before it escapes my mouth.

In case it wasn't clear enough, an example with that word again: when I say 움직이다, I first try to say um-jig-i-da, and the g only becomes connected to the i to become [움지기다] right before it comes out of my mouth.

I don't know how effective this would be for you, but I think it might help because then you directly learn/remember spellings, and you also only have to remember one thing rather than two similar things. Whether you can actually adopt this method might have to do with learning styles (e.g. the visual, auditory, read-write, kinesthetic model) though, hope that helps :-)

  • Whoever downvoted it, any correction/suggestion? :-) – busukxuan Sep 19 '16 at 4:54
  • +1 for the simple observation that 움직이다 is an expression, not a word. We don't need to remember 움직이다, we just need to remember 움직. – msg45f Sep 19 '16 at 5:19
  • @msg45f Well I think it's still a word, just a compound one. But yes, what you mean should be correct :-) – busukxuan Sep 19 '16 at 5:34
  • 움직 is a noun. 이다 is a copula verb. A verb conjugated to be a noun might be considered a single compound word (움직이는 것), but 움직 and 이다 are fairly distinct. In fact, some pairings form entire sentences or expressions, such as "갑자기야" or "다행이다". – msg45f Sep 19 '16 at 5:50
  • @msg45f Yeah, but since 움직이다 is a lexeme I think seeing it as a compound word rather than a phrase is more general/universal, although it may well be a phrase indeed. – busukxuan Sep 19 '16 at 5:55

The final consonant in Korean words is used to differentiate the pronunciation and meaning. If you don't have the second 받침 'ㄱ' in '맑음 (lucidity, clearness)', you can't differentiate it from '말음 (a final sound)' which has a completely different meaning and pronunciation.

It is like 'p' in English. If you add 'p' in 'super', the pronunciation of the vowel 'u' and meaning do change. Actually the 'p' in 'supper' acts like 받침 in Korean. There are more examples where 'p' is used to change the vowel sound as in 'consumption'. 받침 is one of the most difficult parts in learning Korean, but there are some rules of thumb that can help you get more familiarized with it.

Most of the time, it is wrong if you write it as it sounds.

Actually, it was a tip given by one of my elementary school teachers and I have remembered it since.

The more important thing to note is in Korean, endings, particles, and markers with initial 'o' consonant don't change their forms. Examples are

-이다 (움직이다, 먹이다), -은 (먹은), -에 (미국에), -으세요 (먹으세요), -어서 (먹어서), -으니 (먹으니), -으니까 (먹으니까), etc.

If you write the words above as they sound, they will be all wrong. 움지기다, 머기다, 머근, 미구게, 머그세요, 머거서, 머그니, 머그니까.

You can put it another way:

If you write any Korean word with a sound of a final consonant (받침) in the middle of a word and it is connected with any ending/particle/marker, etc. starting with 'o', you need to be suspicious and check one more time whether you spelled it right or wrong.

Well, it is easier said than done. However, if you keep practicing this when you write Korean words, chances of your misspelling them will be certainly reduced.

소리 나는 대로 적으면 틀리기 쉽다. It is likely to be wrong if you write a word as it sounds.

It also applies to other nouns, adjectives, and adverbs, etc. For example,

맑음 (말금 X), 먹이 (머기 X), 점잖다 (점잔타 X), 많다 (만타 X), 적음 (저금 X), etc.

There are some exceptions when you have to write a word as it sounds. That makes learning Korean complicated. But if you get familiarized with stems of a word, it won't be that confusing.

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