Since both adjectives and verbs all ends with 다, is there any grammatical differences between them. Is it only a difference that we introduced because in English we both have adjectives and verbs and they are very different?

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    In most languages around the world, adjectives are either like verbs or like nouns. English is special in that adjectives are a clear third category but in Old English they were like nouns. (Japanese has two types of adjectives: one kind is like nouns and the other is like verbs.) Jul 13, 2016 at 13:38
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    @hippietrail Very interesting, saves for Japanese, I only know about the grammar of romance and Germanic languages, so for me, adjectives have always been in a special class. But the fact that you say that adjectives tend to be like nouns or like verbs is intriguing and I may investigate this point further.
    – Lyle
    Jul 13, 2016 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


One big grammatical difference between adjective verbs is in the participle endings (which turn the verb / adjectives into modifiers).

For verbs, there are 4 participle endings: Past -ㄴ/은, Present -는, Future -ㄹ/을 and respective past -던:

밥 먹은 사람 (The person who ate the rice)
밥 먹는 사람 (the person who eats rice)
밥 먹을 사람 (the person who will eat rice)
밥 먹던 사람 (the person who was eating rice)

For adjectives, there are only 3 participle endings: Past -던, Present -ㄴ/은, and future -ㄹ:

아주 춥던 그날 (that very cold day)
추운 날 (a cold day)
추울 것 같다 (it seems cold)

That is, the past participle for verbs is the same form as the present participle of adjectives, and adjectives use the retrospective past participle as the past participle.

Another major difference is the semantic meanings of some endings. For example, the 아/어지다 ending differs in meaning depending on whether it is added to a verb or adjective. After an adjective, it means "become -". After a verb, it makes a passive form:

추워지다 (become cold)
만들어지다 (be made); 쓰여지다 (be used)

  • Thank you very much. Maybe it deserves its own question thread but. Isn't this conversion past/present with 던 a bit confusing at first? Second, how come that 던 can have those two (present and past) interpretations depending on adjectives/verb. I would have thought of 던 has an auxiliary with a pretty standard meaning that just get stuck at the end of the stem word? (I understand that the chat or another question would be better but my current (very basic) knowledge of korean prevents me from asking precise question).
    – Lyle
    Jul 11, 2016 at 11:16
  • My interpretation of -던 is that it means an imperfect past tense - either a continuous incomplete action in the past, or a repeated action in the past. On the other hand -ㄴ is a perfect past ending (for verbs). Since adjectives describe a state that is continuous, we need to use the imperfect form. That still doesn't explain how -ㄴ can be present for adjectives but past for verbs though.
    – gaeguri
    Jul 11, 2016 at 11:26
  • By imperfect past, you mean something along the line of "If I were you" (here were is an imperfect past). I think that making a question about -ㄴ could be of interest. Thank you for your explanations.
    – Lyle
    Jul 11, 2016 at 11:35
  • No, "If I were you" would be subjunctive. Imperfect past could include a continuous action or a repeated action: 내가 읽던 책 could be "the book I was reading", and 자주 가던 카페 could be "the cafe I often visited".
    – gaeguri
    Jul 11, 2016 at 11:40

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