I am wondering whether 중국어을 전공한 학생 or 중국을 전공하는 학생 would be more correct?

Is -는 used in verbs, so 중국을 전공하는 학생 would be right?

  • 전공하다 is a verb. Not -ㄴ but -는 is a present tense modifier for verbs.
    – Klmo
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 4:29
  • 1
    In addition, it's strange to say 중국을 전공하는/한 학생, just like you can't major in China - it's a country, not a major. You can major in 중국어 (Chinese language), 중국 문화 (Chinese culture), 중문학 (Chinese literature), or maybe even 중국학 (Sinology, or study of China), but not China itself.
    – jick
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 17:50
  • Spelling mistake, thanks! :)
    – Bugsy
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 21:26
  • please fix your spelling: 전공 not 정공 both in the title and body of your question.
    – Memming
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


전공하는 is the right form. 전공한 is used for the past tense.

For example,

  1. 나는 중국어를 전공한 학생이야.

This means that I finished studying Chinese.

  1. 나는 중국어를 전공하는 학생이야.

This means that I am currently studying Chinese.

  • "나는 중국어를 전공한 학생이야" means that "I'm a student now, who finished studying Chinese by major". So it's probably incorrect in general and sounds unnatural even if that's true. It doesn't mean that this answer is wrong because this answer starts with "전공하는 is the right form". However I can't say that this is a suitable answer by various aspects.
    – Quidn
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 11:00
  • As a native Korean, the first example, "나는 중국어를 전공한 학생이야", is commonly used. I'm not saying that your definition is wrong or something, but I'm just saying the first example is used often.
    – David Lee
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 19:37
  • That's unbelievably interesting. You said that you are a native Korean but if you don't mind may I ask how long did you lived in Korea and where you are living now? I was born and lived 30+ years of whole life in Seoul and NEVER EVER heard like that weird language. In my experience, average native Korean never speaks any combination of "나는 ㅇㅇ를(을) 전공한(하는) 학생이야". It can be used in special form like "이거 왜 이러셔, 나 나름대로 ㅇㅇ 전공한 사람이야", but it's still unnatural if "학생이야" is used. Could you please let me know where can I find one or more native Korean who often speaks like that in Korea?
    – Quidn
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 15:04
  • It's not grammatically wrong when a graduate student or any other student who already has one or more degree speaks like that, however that sounds very strange to me. I don't know there's any college nearby me which has "중국어" rather than "(중어)중문" as a major, anyway "학부는 중국어학과 나왔어요", "대학에서는 중국어 전공 했어요" or something similar is more natural. Whether it's natural or not, it's possibly incorrect because only few students already have one or more degree. And people who satisfies that condition most likely don't speak like that strange, in my experience.
    – Quidn
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 15:04
  • I was also born and lived in Seoul until high school and currently live in the U.S. (I'm a college student now.) Friends of mine in Korea often used it as they are graduates who already have a major. (I believe I did not say Koreans use a combination of the two sentences. I'm not quite sure why you gave that example.)
    – David Lee
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 4:47

You mean 'a student who majors in Chinese'? -> 중국어를 전공한 학생 / 중국어를 전공하는 학생. Both are okay. -는 is an ending of a word that implies that an event or action is happening in the present.

So 중국어를 전공하는 학생 emphasizes more on studying Chinese right now as a major, while 중국어를 전공한 학생 suggests that the student completes the process to get the degree for Chinese as his major.

  • 1
    So -는 is for describing current states, while -(으)ㄴ would be used for describing a general process?
    – Bugsy
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 21:28
  • @Bugsy No, if you are going to use a verb (not an adjective), use -는 to say what you do or what you are doing, and use -ㄴ to say what you have done or what you did.
    – Klmo
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 17:39

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.