Korean Grammar for International Learners calls descriptive verbs 상태동사:

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However, I thought these words were also often called 형용사 - so I got the impression that 상태동사 and 형용사 are basically the same thing. Following a conversation with another Korean SE friend here, I wonder if that is correct.

Are 상태동사 and 형용사 the same thing, are 형용사 a subset of 상태동사, or are they different altogether?

  • Status verbs and adjectives are totally different things!
    – user237
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 9:40
  • Plus, 강하다 and 밝다 should both be adjectives.
    – user237
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 9:41
  • 2
    I've never heard "상태동사" while learning Korean as a native speaker. Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 16:56
  • @choco_addicted It does seem that a web search for "상태동사" mainly brings up sites talking about English, so as Rathony says, maybe this is an editorial oddity. Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 16:59

2 Answers 2


There is no 상태동사 in Korean. I think you are confused with other languages such as English. There are only verbs and adjectives in Korean and nothing in-between.

The simplest way to distinguish 형용사 (adjective) from 동사 (verb) is to conjugate by placing '-ㄴ' or '-는' before '다' using the basic (root) form. If the conjugated form makes sense, it is a verb. If not, it is an adjective as follows:

  1. Changing the words to basic forms.

슬프네 -> 슬프다

예뻤지 -> 예쁘다

먹어라 -> 먹다

가신다 -> 가다

  1. Place '-ㄴ' (when the last word before 다 ends with a vowel) or '-는' (when it ends with a consonant) before '다'.

슬프다 -> 슬다 (X)

예쁘다 -> 예다 (X)

먹다 -> 먹다 (O)

가다 -> 간 (O)

The first two are adjectives and the last two are verbs.

Let's see how your examples work.

강하다 -> 강다 (X)

밝다 -> 밝다 (X)

Neither of them works and it proves that they are adjectives.

When you see a translated version of those adjectives in Korean, it might sound like a verb, but there is no 상태동사 in Korean.

  • question updated. Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 14:08
  • 2
    @topomorto There is nothing to add based on your edit. The book is wrong and not worth my attention.
    – user7
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 14:09
  • If there is no 상태동사 then how do yiu explain why 앉아있다 is right while 앉고 있다 wrong? Exactly because 앉는다 is status verb, isn't it? 먹고 있다, 가고 있다 are all acceptable but not 앉고 있다!
    – user237
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 14:17
  • @SuperCoolHandsomeGelBoy What makes you think 앉아있다 is 상태동사? Is "sitting" in "He is sitting at the table" a 상태동사? There is no such word as "앉는다". "앉다" is the root form of '앉아있다'.
    – user7
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 14:20
  • 1
    Stative verbs do exist in Korean. Commented Apr 26, 2019 at 21:40


1) There are several ways in defining a descriptive verb.

2) Descriptive verb and dynamic verb are subsets of verb and adjective is a subset of descriptive verb. But it is mechanical view point. In language view point, we use term adjective.

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