Are there any restrictions on using (으)ㄹ with descriptive verbs?

For example, could I use 넓을 거리 (a street that will be wide) or 굵을 나무 (a tree that will be big and thick) and so on? Is there any real problem with these?

I thought this was basic grammar until I read something the other day that made me wonder about it..

  • 1
    넓'어질' 거리, 굵'어질' 나무 is correct. I will try to write a full answer later... By the way, you meant "widened" not "wide", right?
    – PenPoint
    Aug 4, 2017 at 12:42
  • I didn't mean "widened" -- I know that 넓어지다 means that, but that is an action (active verb form) and I'm asking about descriptive verbs here. I was thinking more like a sentence such as 굵을 나무가 지금 새싹뿐이다.
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 4, 2017 at 12:55
  • As an example, this link (koreanlanguagenerd.com/grammarindex/participle/…) shows the DV 좋다 used as: 좋을 선수 (the player that will be good)
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 4, 2017 at 13:08
  • Well... I have no idea when it comes to 'grammar' but that term "좋을 선수" is really awkward to me. Same in the case of 넓을 거리 - frankly doesn't make sense.
    – PenPoint
    Aug 4, 2017 at 15:56
  • Well it does to me.. Korean has no relative pronouns (such as "that")...the player that will be good, the road that will be wide, the tree that will be big...these all make perfect sense and are certainly used in English with no problem..is Korean that different?
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 4, 2017 at 22:38

3 Answers 3


It's hard to explain why, but 넓을 거리 and 굵을 나무 both sound wrong to me. A native speaker would instead say 넓어질 거리/굵어질 나무 as PenPoint said.

I think it sounds more acceptable if you add expressions to specify when (or under what condition) it will happen. For example, I think the following sounds OK:

잘 가꾸면 예쁠 정원이지만 관리를 안 해서 엉망이다.

잘 익었으면 맛있을 김치인데 너무 오래 밖에 두어서 다 시어 버렸다.

But just saying "굵을 나무", without stating when it will be wide, does not sound natural. And in any case, it might be better to paraphrase:

(커서/훗날/몇 년 뒤에) 굵은 나무가 되겠지만 지금은 새싹뿐이다.

(Here you must use "굵은 나무", even though it will happen in the future.)

  • Finally, there are many expressions that require -ㄹ form for adjectives. E.g.,

    살짝 자르면 머리가 더 예쁠 것 같다.

    내일은 광장이 한산할 예정입니다.

    손으로 못 잡을 만큼 뜨거울 정도는 아니었다.

  • I see. Hmmm................
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 5, 2017 at 7:48

Phew, finally I got some time to answer properly. First of all, I think you should study '주동', '사동', '능동', and '피동' expressions. Since '사동' is the opposite of '주동' and '피동' is the opposite of '능동', I'll explain only '사동' and '피동' to you.

사동(使動): This is the case when we order someone to do a specific action. Verbs which imply the meaning is called '사동사'.

피동(被動): This is the case when an action is done by someone else. Verbs which imply the meaning is called '피동사'.

So '주동' simply means one doing something oneself, and 능동 is almost the same notion.

Now, let's see the examples you posted:

<넓을 거리(a street that will be wide)> - Everyone knows that a street cannot be wider itself, since a street is neither a living creature nor a automated width-adjusting machine. So, the only way that a street can be widened is to extend(reconstruct) it by hiring workers. So this example can be explained as a '피동' situation.

<굵을 나무(a tree that will be big and thick)> - Actually it is a little bit awkward to claim this as a 피동 situation since one might perceive the situation like: 'The one that makes tree to grow is the tree itself'. So it looks like one should roughly accept as 'If the environment which tree grows in is not sufficient the tree can't grow'. So anyway it also leads to '피동' situation.

And for the last, there are two ways that a verb can transform into 피동사:

1) Adding one of these in the end: '-이-', '-히-', '-리-', '-기-'

2) Adding '-아-' or '-어-' with '-지다' in the end

which means that the second rule should be applied to both of the examples. Hope this helped.

  • I know what you are trying to say here..you are talking about "passive" and "causative" verb forms. I have studied this stuff deeply, in fact. And I'm sure that in many situations it makes more sense to use these. But it is not really what I'm asking about. You know there is a word "넓히다" by the way....
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 6, 2017 at 1:37
  • My fundamental understanding is that 굵을 나무 has essentially the same meaning as "나무가 굵을 것이다"...it is just placed in a sentence in a different way. Is this not true?
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 6, 2017 at 1:44

Ok, today I talked to a real live Korean person who I've known for about 4 months and met numerous times. He is solid about grammar and honest with me...and very detailed oriented. He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, and just isn't the type to lie or miss even the smallest detail...he has corrected 100s of my Korean expressions, because every time I meet him I show him about a dozen plus he corrects my speaking too.

Here's the two sentences I showed him today:

기사가 넓을 거리를 계획한다.

굵을 나무가 지금은 새싹뿐이다.

He said they are both fine...with no qualifications or hesitations. He didn't even say they are unnatural or awkward, and he would because he does all the time...today he found problems with a bunch of my other sentences but not these.

He did say that 기사 is not used that much for "engineer" these days, although it does mean that, and suggested "엔진이어" (or 엔지니어 might have been).

So this is the answer.

Nevertheless, I thank you all for your input and I learned some stuff from this post.

  • I still think I have to disagree. (It's a borderline case, so I can see how native speakers may have different opinions after they see your example sentences, but I still think these sentences are not "OK": virtually no Korean speaker would spontaneously utter such sentences.)
    – jick
    Aug 7, 2017 at 22:13
  • I am a native Korean who currently is studying Korean grammar - not in a professional way but in high school level. So I am afraid that he is wrong.
    – PenPoint
    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:18
  • If you are studying Korean, show me your "official" source saying that using ㄹ on descriptive verbs is prohibited then? Because I'm convinced you are wrong, and have now after considerable research found almost endless examples of it.... So let's see your "official" proof, sir/madam.
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:03
  • By the way, just yesterday I saw 한복할 (followed by a regular noun, not 것 or whatever) used on a billboard in letters about 3 meters high. If this was so wrong, do you really think that someone spending probably 20,000,000 won or more on advertising would use it, and display their ignorance to millions of people? Perhaps I should take a picture of it for you????
    – B. Alvn
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:06
  • 1
    @B.Alvn, if your intention is to learn, you should stop speaking so belligerently to people honestly trying to teach you. Unnatural? Wrong? No, 권리 is one of those words that always take -ㄹ adjective form, so 행복할 권리 is correct, just like 예쁠 것 or 한산할 예정 I already wrote about. And if you took your time to actually learn how real Koreans speak, instead of making up your own theory and then go shopping for evidences you think support your theory, you would understand that.
    – jick
    Aug 11, 2017 at 5:24

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