There are two ways to negate Korean verbs:

  • By prepending 안 ("안 춥다")
  • By appending -지 않다 ("춥지 않다")

Are there rules for which one to use? Or does the method used change the meaning of the sentence?

  • Can't use '안' several times. For example can't use '안 안 춥다'. But totally acceptable to use -지 않다 repeatedly. e.g. '춥지 않지 않지 않다' or '안 춥지 않지 않지 않다'
    – MrTanorus
    Mar 27, 2021 at 11:13

2 Answers 2


안 comes from the shortened form of 아니다

The negation 않 comes from the shortened form of 아니하다

Both work the same way in terms of negating verbs or adjectives, but the longer form ~지 않다 is used more in formal situations

But perhaps another common difference would be the fact that 아니다 can be used as a statement in itself as a negative response. For example,

가: 집에 있어요?
나: 아니예요.



Prepending 안 is more casual while appending 지 않다 is more formal. But under many situations you can use them interchangeably.

One another trend is that for long verbs, appending 지 않다 is preferred. For example, the negate form of 거짓말하다 ('to lie') is usually 거짓말하지 않다. In this case 안 거짓말하다 seems really unnatural. On the contrary, short verbs such as 먹다 can comfortably take two forms: 안 먹다 and 먹지 않다.

  • Negating 거짓말하다 would be 거짓말(을) 안 하다, isn't it?
    – 파울울
    Jun 23, 2016 at 7:43
  • 2
    If the original form was 거짓말을 하다 then the negation would be 거짓말을 안 하다, because the verb is 하다. On the other hand in 거짓말하다 the verb is 거짓말하다. So the two are similar but yet different. But I'm not 100% sure about whether there is a rule about negating 거짓말하다 into 거짓말을 안 하다 or not. To my knowledge 거짓말을 안 하다 is only a negation of 거짓말을 하다. I'm sorry that I cannot give you a good explanation about grammar. You know, in any language native speakers are actually very weak about explaning grammars. Excuse me!
    – JSong
    Jun 23, 2016 at 8:02
  • I see. I learned that with 하다 verbs, 안 will usually placed before 하다. Can you give an example when "안 ㅡㅡ하다" could be used? 안 공부했어 sounds awkward doesn't it?
    – 파울울
    Jun 23, 2016 at 10:45
  • 3
    That's a good question! I had to think a lot! These are the examples: 통하다 and 취하다. The negation forms are 안 통하다, 통하지 않다 and 안 취하다, 취하지 않다, respectively. In those cases 통 안하다, 취 안하다 are incorrect.
    – JSong
    Jun 23, 2016 at 15:08
  • @JSong is it legit then to use 거짓말을 않다?
    – busukxuan
    Jun 23, 2016 at 18:37

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