I was looking at the conjugations for the verbs that have a ㄷ right before 다.

For example, 걷다, 믿다, 닫다, 싣다, 묻다, and 듣다.

When most of these conjugate, it makes sense to me. 걷다 becomes 걷아, 믿다 becomes 믿어, etc.

But then 듣다 becomes 들어, and 묻다 becomes 물어?

Why are these different? Why do they add an ㄹ sound? Are they irregular, or is there a rule that applies here? Thank you !

1 Answer 1


They are known as irregular conjugations (불규칙 활용). They have become that way for phonetic or etymological reasons, but even native speakers mostly don't know how they ended up that way (unless you're an etymologist). You'll just need to get familiar with them just like in any language.

걷다/걸어, 듣다/들어, 묻다/물어 are examples of what we call ㄷ-irregular conjugations. ㄷ becoming ㄹ before a vowel sound makes the pronunciation smoother. But note that in some cases, this might happen to only some of the homonyms of the word instead of all. For example, 걷다 to walk becomes 걸어, but 걷다 to collect conjugates to 걷어 (길을 었다 / 널어 둔 빨래를 었다). Similarly, 묻다 to ask becomes 물어, but 묻다 to bury and and 묻다 to get on (i.e. soil/stain) do regular conjugation to 묻어 (친구의 주소를 었다, 죽은 강아지를 었다, 옷에 흙이 었다).

There is no way to reliably predict how certain words might conjugate just by looking at the spelling. You'll just have to learn them through study and exposure. This is no different from "think" becoming "thought" for the past tense but similarly spelled "thank" keeping the regular form "thanked" in English . There is no practical way to predict such things.

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