In What is the difference between 좋다 and 좋아하다? the difference between 좋다/좋아하다 can easily be explained both through "good" vs. "like" and through plentiful examples of both in daily life.

However, 싫다 and 싫어하다 can both mean "dislike" and "hate", with 싫다 being significantly more common. What is the difference, why is 싫다 more common, and when should I use 싫어하다?

  • 1
    From what I've read, you can't use the DV form to describe a third person because it is, basically, rude (or just unknowable with certainty) to say how someone else feels. So you use the AV (VerbRoot+어하다) form which, in fact, describes physical actions of the feeling, not the feeling itself. If you want a source for this, let me know and I will dig up 2 or 3 for you. 싫다 is a description. 싫어하다 is an action...in Korean!
    – B. Alvn
    Dec 24, 2016 at 14:40
  • -아하다, -어하다, -여하다 make an intransitive verb transitive. However, Korean Standard Grand Dictionary does not describe its use. 나는 무엇'이' 좋다, 나는 무엇'을' 좋아하다. May 6, 2017 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


These are actually the same story grammatically as the 좋다 versus 좋아하다 case.

싫다 means to be despicable or worthy of hate, to be awful. This is a descriptive verb. 싫어하다 means to hate; it is an action verb.

Koreans commonly will say things like ”싫어!" when they want to express displeasure about something. It is almost like the English "this sucks." (Albeit a little less idiomatic).

In English, we use the phrase "I hate this" to express displeasure about something. In Korean, they frame these feelings by describing the subject in question (I.e. The movie or the book or the person or the task). In English, we are move given to describing our feelings about the object in question. (These uses of subject and object should also give us a hint as to the grammatical difference between the two words).

Take the following phrases for example:

그를 도와 주기가 싫다 (literally translated) "Helping him is dislikeable."

나는 사탕이 싫다 (again, literally translated) "For me, candy is disgusting."

Note how these sentences directly describe the subject. The subject marker 이/가 is used. Although awkward sounding in English, these sentences sound fine in Korean.

Be aware that a dictionary or Google or textbook may translate these sentences into English as "I hate helping him" and "I hate candy." (Note how the English directly describes how the speaker feels, not the object of the hate!). These translations are "correct" in that they convey the appropriate meaning. However, they have technically changed the grammatical structure of the sentence.

So, long story short, 싫다 is a descriptive verb and 싫어하다 is its action verb counterpart.

Addendum: In answer to the question about when to use 싫어하다 over 싫다, I believe the answer can be summarized as follows: When you are speaking about your own self (so first person) finding something undesirable or worthy of despise, you can use 싫다. However, when you are speaking about someone else (second or third person) disliking something, 싫어하다 feels more appropriate. That is at least how I have seen it used before. Whenever the second or third person voice is being employed, 싫어하다 is the verb of preference it seems. I do not have any hard data on this, but this is how I personally have seen it used.

  • 1
    My answer in the 좋다 versus 좋아하다 question has a generalization for this pattern, this feels a bit like promoting my own answer, by I sincerely think a link to that answer would be useful for this question: korean.stackexchange.com/a/248/188 Btw, your answer is great!
    – busukxuan
    Jun 29, 2016 at 18:40
  • 1
    That's fine with me!
    – Vladhagen
    Jun 29, 2016 at 19:06
  • While I understand the technical difference between the two, this doesn't explain why 싫어하다 is relatively rare (and 좋아하다 is not) – 싫다 is usually the opposite of both 좋다 and 좋아하다. Can you give some examples where 싫다 cannot be used instead of 싫어하다? Jun 30, 2016 at 2:10
  • Teddy Cross, I have edited my answer to include my thoughts on your question.
    – Vladhagen
    Jun 30, 2016 at 5:56
  • Surely by "subject" Vlad means "subject of the predicate clause" in his examples above. If you are using 싫다 in a declarative sentence properly, the sentence subject (person who hates) has to be you, otherwise you aren't using Korean correctly.
    – B. Alvn
    Dec 24, 2016 at 14:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.