Here are the definitions of two words from Naver dictionary.

  1. 표제: 서책의 겉에 쓰는 그 책의 이름
  2. 정가: 사랑을 읊은 노래

Why is it 쓰는, 읊은 in #1 and #2 not 쓴 , 읊는 respectively?

Another example about 가진, 가지는:

  1. 이 문법 현상에 관심을 가지는 사람이 없어요.
  2. 이 문법 현상에 관심을 가진 사람이 없어요.

What's the difference in meaning?

  • isn't 가진 a past form?
    – user17915
    Mar 15, 2020 at 13:39
  • @user17915 I know that but in the first two examples, they use both present and past form.
    – emnha
    Mar 15, 2020 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


Regarding the definition of 표제, a similar question can be raised for the English word note:

note: something that you write down to remind you of something

why is it "that you write down" not "that you wrote down" or "that you have written down"? I do not know the exact answer, but it seems that the present tense is preferred by lexicographers when it is possible to use either tense, in other words, when there is no reason to use the past tense instead of the present tense.

읊다 has these meanings:

  1. To read or recite a poem, song, etc., with varied intonations.

  2. To poeticize (write a poem about)

읊다 used in 사랑을 읊은 노래 relates to the second meaning. You cannot complete a song before you write its lyrics. Thus, the (relative) past tense seems to be correct to use for the definition of 정가 (a song of which the lyrics you wrote about love).

In general, the past tense in Korean can be the present perfect, past, past progressive, or past perfect tense in English. For your sentences, the two phrases can be either completely different or almost the same.

  • 관심을 가지는 사람 = people who take an interest (Note: You cannot be sure whether they have ever been interested.)

  • 관심을 가진 사람 = people who took (or has taken, had taken, etc.) an interest (Note: You cannot be sure whether they are still interested.)

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