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The uninflected verb "to dance" is 춤추다, yet Duolingo has informed me that if I wish t say that "subject dances" (with a deferential ending) then the sentence will be "subject 춤을 춥니다"

Why is this sentence to 춤을 춥니다 (addition of the direct object particle) rather than "subject 춤춥니다" ?

What is the general concept at play here?

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It's not really related to the ending that is added. There are many cases of verbs that are composed of a noun + verb. In many of these words, it can be expressed in 2 ways:

  • As one word: NounVerb (e.g. 춤추다)
  • As two words; the noun as the object of the verb (e.g. 춤을 추다).

If both cases are permitted, then any endings could be added to either: 춤춥니다 or 춤을 춥니다, 춤춰요 or 춤을 춰요, 춤췄어 or 춤을 췄어.

Normally, if there is a different object of the verb, then you'll use the composite form, but if there isn't, then either form is OK.

Some other examples of composite verbs like this include 잠자다 / 잠을 자다 and 결정하다 / 결정을 하다.

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