Level 1 Lesson 16 / Basic Present Tense / -아요, -어요, -여요

In this TTMIK lesson, we are looking at how to change a verb in its dictionary form into the basic present tense. In Korean, when you look up a verb in a dictionary, everything ends in the letter 다 [da], and you have to get rid of that in order to conjugate the verb. And after that, you add 아요, 어요, or 여요. Listen in to find out how to determine which one of these should follow the verb stem when you say something in the present tense. Be sure to pick up the FREE PDF, and also try making some sample sentences of your own. Video responses are welcome as well!

Click here to check out the page on 아/어/여 + 요 in Korean Wiki Project.

You can download both the PDF lesson notes and the MP3 audio track for this lesson below, and if you want to learn with our various textbooks and workbooks, you can get them on our online bookstore at MyKoreanStore.com. If you have any questions about this lesson, please leave us comments below!

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Level 1 Lesson 16 / Basic Present Tense / -아요, -어요, -여요
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  • Chess8Ko

    가다 = 가요
    먹다 = 먹어요
    보다 = 봐요
    보이다 = 보여요
    하다 = 해요

    놀다 = 놀여요 ?

    • sandra

      놀다 -> 놀아요 because the last vowel in the stem 놀 is ㅗ

  • Adam Otter

    “Verb stem? 보이
    What is it followed by? 어요
    보이 + 어요 —> 보여요”

    Ah yes, of course!! 보이어요 makes 보여요. i+o=ye SO easy to remember.
    This language is made out of lies :<

    • Luan

      여 is pronounced as yeo not ye :o… Or if that’s what you meant, sorry for correcting you XD Your comment seemed kind of synical that’s why I replied xD

    • Adam Otter

      Oops, missed an o there, thanks! I was a bit frustrated with this lesson because I’ve learned about the present tense in a different way, so I was just confused 😀

    • Luan

      Oh how so? You took another course before? I also come from another course but I remember this being the same as the previous one I had attended. The previous course, however, didn’t start with the conjugated version, but with the plain version of the present/past/future tense. I honestly think TTMIK does it better than any other course I have seen so far, since the way they explain it is a lot clearer. It’s often also thanks to the lay-out they apply.

    • Adam Otter

      Yeah, before discovering TTMIK I used to learn from an old course book that I found online. This course is way better! 🙂

  • Sneaky15

    To climb is 오르, so would this be correct for ‘I climb a tree. ‘ ?
    나무 오루 어요. I would be really grateful if someone could check! 😀

    • Luan

      I wish I could tell you it was right, but it’s not. 르 verbs are exceptional verbs when adding ~아/어. The conjugation differs from that of others. I would recommend not paying attention to this just yet, but I can tell you that ”I climb” (present tense) is conjugated as 올라요. It therefore would be translated as: 나는 나무를 올라요.

    • Sneaky15

      Okay, thank you!

  • JAlba

    So when u have a verb stem that ends with ㅡ, how do u know when to do conjugate to 아요, 았어요 etc?

    • Luan

      It’s not an ”ㅏ” or ”ㅗ”, therefore you add ”어요” (present tense) or ”었어요” (past tense). Let’s take the word ”쓰다” for example. As the last vowel in the stem is ”ㅡ”, you add ”어요” or ”었어요”. This then becomes ”써요” (present tense) or ”썼어요” (past tense). *This does NOT become ”쓰어요” or ”쓰었어요”, as the stem merges with the conjugation.

    • Stay Thirsty

      Why does “아프다” become “아파요” rather than “아퍼요”?

    • Andreas Jacobsen

      When the last vowel is a ㅡ you look at the verb before that (if any. Otherwise look at ㅡ and conjugate with 어요). Here you look at 아 before 프 which gives you 파 instead of 퍼.

    • Janus

      Exactly what Andreas said. You can think of it as the ㅡ doesn’t count as a vowel for this purpose. I think the ㅡ vowel is like a false vowel for Koreans, they use it when they think there should be no vowel, and that’s why so many English words that end in consonants end with ㅡ in Korean. That’s also why 아프다 becomes 아파요 and not 아프아요, because the “false” vowel ㅡ loses its place for the 아.

  • Anna

    So if there is no vowels after 이 in word than I should add 여요?

  • 멜리사

    how about to study? in present tense?

    • Tessa

      It should be 공부해요

  • Jadwiga Bajurska

    Thank you for this lesson, it was really well explained and so easy to understand! I love studying with TTMIK and I’m so grateful for your online lessons, 감사합니다!

  • Stay Thirsty

    If you’re supposed to use “어요” for stems that have a last vowel other thanㅏ, or ㅗ why does “아프다” become “아파요” rather than “아퍼요”?

    • bagy

      It’s like a rule if it starts with ㅏ, or ㅗ like 아파요 then it’s ㅏ, if it starts with other vowels like예쁘다 then it’s 어. You just have to remember certain words to change like this.

    • Ed Street

      I think this verb becomes 아파요 due to a special conjugation rule for verbs with a stem ending with “ㅡ” (such as 아프다). In that case the “ㅡ” is dropped and the 아 vs. 어 selection is made based on the prior vowel which in this case isㅏ. Then due to vowel compression the ending becomes “파요”.

  • Tessa

    I’m not having too much trouble with this lesson, but I’m not sure how to conjugate 쉬다. Is it 쉬요 or쉬어요 or something else? Thanks!

  • Michelle Garcia

    How would you conjugate the verb 부른다 in the present tense? Would it be 불려요? I am making a sample dialogue to practice writing and I want to say something like “I call the waiter (over).” 웨이타를 불려요. Is that even the correct verb to use? Note: The scene is at a restaurant.

    • Ivis Benavides

      The verb is 부르다 and it would be 불려요 once you conjugate it. I’m not sure if this is the correct verb to use though but it does mean “to call(out)” so the “웨이터를 불려요” would mean “I call the waiter”. There might be a better verb to use but i’m not sure.

    • Michelle Garcia


  • Maggie Philena Betz

    will the word be conjugated similarly to hada every single time that [i] is the final letter of the root like boida or is that a case by case thing.

    • Ivis Benavides

      As far as I’ve seen it’s always the same

    • Chris Hill

      They both follow the same format of being conjugated with “였어요, yeo-sse-yo” but as stated in the lesson, “하다, hada” turns into “했어요, hae-sseo-yo.” and verbs ending with “이, i” get conjugated with the “었어요, eo-sseo-yo.”하다 hada” is it’s own special kind of thing. ㅋㅋ. Also if you haven’t, try to learn 한글. Makes the learning experience a lot easier. :^D

  • Ashley Gonzales

    Okay, so question about verb stems ending in ㅏ, for example 자다 (To sleep). When we add the appropriate verb ending to 자 it becomes 자ㅏ요.
    Do we naturally always drop the extra “a” ㅏ? So it becomes 자요

    How do we know when to drop the extra “A” or do we always drop the extra “A” for these types of verb stems.

    • bagy

      You always drop “A”

    • Ashley Gonzales

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Pete

    hello everyone Im getting a little confused and and pls. correct me if i am wrong, because i am thinking if i have 먹다 (to eat) and i make it present tense 먹어요 right? But in lesson 22 there is this 하다 , so can i put 먹하다 and present tense 먹해요? is this right?

    • Akki

      if I’m correct, you can only put 하다 after nouns to make them into verbs. For example 운동 is sport. and 운동하다 is to do sport. But because 먹다 itself is a verb, you cannot put 하다 after it. That would be “to do eating”; sounds weird. If you want to use 하다, you can say 식사하다. Wich means to have a meal or to eat, because 식사 means meal.
      I hope, this helps you 😉

  • mxc9219

    They called boa 보아요? I didn’t get that.

    • Prismo

      No, that’s not it. I think this is what 현우씨 meant. They didn’t call her “보아요,” they would say “BOA” instead of “봐.”

      So like “콘서트 BOAㅆ어요.”

      I THINK. I haven’t seen it for myself.

  • Jan Paul Echaveria

    If I want to say. “I am eating hamburger”,
    Is it right to say “햄버거 먹어요”???

    • Pedro

      There is two ways that I know of to do that.
      1) 햄버거를 먹는다 (and other present-tense conjugations of 먹다), and
      2) 햄버거를 먹고 있다 (and other present-tense conjugations of 있다).

      (2) is basically saying that “I am doing (고 있다) the act of eating (먹…)”.
      Hope it helps.

      P.S.: it is quite important to use “를” to identify the hamburger as the object of the phrase, although you could potentially understand it from context. It is always better to learn how to use the particles thoroughly before learning how to bypass it.
      P.S. 2: if someone knows better than me, please correct me 🙂 I’m also a beginner.

  • Kristen Parks

    I did not see this in recent posts and maybe this is the Spanish teacher in me but in regards to conjugating, how do you know who the subject is? I do not see any pronouns. The endings make sense but they are all the same so how would someone know if it is myself I am talking about or someone else? Thank you.

    • Gisela S

      I have learned Spanish as well, and the conjugation requires tense and its subject but Korean doesn’t use pronouns such as he, she, it, etc., most of the tiime, so the verb is applied the same regardless the subject, I hope this helps 🙂

  • Angel


    • Gisela S

      I think the verb ends in -하다, therefore, the form is 결정하다, if that is the verb you intended to say, which makes the present conjugation becomes 결정하여요.
      I hope I got it right, if there’s a mistake you’re more than welcome to correct! 🙂

    • chill ceel

      If it’s in 하다, it’s always 해요 🙂 I think? lol!

    • Ran

      This answer is a bit late, but for the sake of anybody with the same question –
      결정하다 means ‘to decide’ and 결정되다 means ‘to be decided’. Important difference.
      Verbs with the ending -되다 will always be conjugated into -돼요 for polite informal.
      결정돼요. 계속돼요. 구성돼요.

  • Alice Åkesson

    Is 하(다) the ONLY verb that ends with 여요? Aren’t there any other verbs ending with 여요?

    • AlyPunk

      many verbs end with “hada” 하(다), so they are conjugated the same, by adding 여요. You will see as you will progress further and you will find many verbs ending on “hada”.

  • Nellymar Mora Gigllio

    So, 딸어져요 is present? I can´t download the PDF, but I wanna now what is meaning 딸어져요…
    (Sorry if my english is worst)

  • Trang

    I found that the word “바쁘다” will be changed to “바빠요” and I don’t understand it. Can you help me explain it?

    • chill ceel

      There are rules for irregulars like: ㅂ ㅅ ㄹ 르 ㅡ ㄷ. It’s really confusing tbh since there are words that are exemption to the rules.

  • Jim Awofadeju

    학교에 가요.
    I go to school.

    불고기를 먹어요.
    I eat bulgogi.

  • Belle

    I was looking through verbs in previous lessons and saw 놀다, to hang out/ to play. 놀 end with a consonant so would we conjugate based on the last vowel? or is there simply another conjugation not mentioned in this lesson?

    • Ivis Benavides

      Yea you would conjugate based on the last vowel so it would be 놀아요

  • Clayton Patterson

    Hi there! I’m a bit confused on the conjugation of “I see”. In the worksheet you mentioned:
    “-only one verb stem, which is 하 [ha], is followed by 여요 [yeo-yo].

    보이 + 어요 —> 보여요 [bo-yeo-yo]

    Do we also use 여요 [yeo-yo] when the verb stem ends in “이”?

    • Ivis Benavides

      Yea you do. If i remember correctly I believe it has to do with the fact that 보이어요 when said fast sounds exactly like 보여요 so they just abbreviated it to 보여요.

    • Hikari Momo

      When you combine 어 and 이, it turns into 여

  • Stell

    Hi, need a study buddy too kakao id is Stellalssi

    • Micah Brandon

      I’ll be your study partner!
      Kakao id: MicahBrandon

  • Erin

    tip from me (if anyone wants it): really study these!! I passed over this lesson really quick thinking it was super easy. it IS easy but it is so important for future lessons in other tenses and for making longer sentences to really have these down! grab a dictionary and go through conjugating random verbs! Thats why i am going back and listening to all these lessons and going through the dictionary 🙂

    Kakao id: Simba

  • Lalectoraespacial

    Hello!! im looking for study partner -w- you can add me in Kakao, my id is softjoonie

  • Seorin Jang

    Hi! I’m looking for study partners, you can add me on Kakao, my id is josiejovanca 😀

  • Cara Moore

    I know many people are doing this already but I think it would be nice to make a Korean study group chat or if I just a few study buddies. If you might be interested my Kakaotalk ID is 333mmj333

  • Chantelle Streete

    Hi I have a question! If “to study” is 공부하다 and I want to change that to present tense by dropping the 다, would that then be 공부하여요 or 공부해요 or something else?

    • 3inOne

      The correct conjugation would be 공부해요 🙂

    • Chantelle Streete

      Thank you 🙂

  • Lubi

    That means “일하다” will become “일해요”, 맞아요?

    • 조슈아

      네, 맞아요.

  • 조슈아

    어디에서 만나고 싶어요?
    Where do you want to meet?

    제 아들은 표토를 먹는 좋아요.
    My son likes to eat topsoil.

  • Anna Nguyen

    If the verb is 쓰다 then if I want to drop the 다 then what is the correct term. Thank you.

    • summer

      it would be 써/써요