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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  • Loi Shang

    안녕하세요 🙂

    Check this for me please.
    Some of the verb that i changed into present tense but I’m not sure if they are correct.

    And also i noticed that when the verb stem’s last vowel is “l” it is followed by “여요”.
    For example:
    I’m i right?

    • JooyeonPark

      걷다 –> 걸어요
      주다 –> 주어요 –> 줘요
      돕다 –> 도와요
      Other than that, they are perfect! 🙂

    • Loi Shang

      감사합니다. ^^

  • Suga Swag

    A : 지금 뭐해요? (What are you doing now?)
    B : 음악을 듣어요 (I’m listening to music.)

    Am I correct?

  • Sharmane Amago

    This is so helpful, I love it! I’ve been looking for websites that will help me learn Korean and it bored me or confused me more eventually. But this one! This is so easy to understand, not boring, very informative. 정말 감사합니다!~^^

    • Seokjin Jin

      Thanks for your comment, yay! The following lessons must be fun, too! Go for it!

  • Hero

    걷다 -> 걷어요
    더하다 –> 더하여요
    담다 –> 담어요
    돕다 –> 돕어요


    • Gabi Rosmari

      Hi… well… you’ve chosen all irregular verbs!
      걷다 -> 걷어요 x -> 걸어요
      더하다 –> 더해요
      담다 –> 담어요 x -> 담아요
      돕다 –> 도와요

    • Hero

      Ah! Darn irregulars >_< I will practice more! 감사합니다!

  • Melanie Malaluan

    How to say “I got things to do”

    • Kenny Lau

      You can say “바빠요” which means “I am busy” (I translated according to meaning).

      If you want to translate that literally, it would be “할 필요가있는 것(을) 있어요” which means “there are things I need to do.”

  • Melanie Malaluan

    How to say calling, eating, going, coming. Etc.

    • Kenny Lau

      The verbs in their dictionary forms are 부르다/먹다/가다/오다.

      If you are referring to the action, they would be 부르기/먹기/가기/오기.

      If you are referring to the present continuous tense, they would be 부르고 있어요/먹고 있어요/가고 있어요/오고 있어요.

  • Minji

    Hi! I love your lessons! But there’s one thing I’m confused about. I learned by another video by someone else that instead of the ending 여요 you would use 해요? What’s the difference or which should you use??

    • Kenny Lau

      해요 is ten times more often used than 하여요.

  • Grace Jin

    안녕하세요! Thank you for your lessons! May I know what is the present tense of 내다? 🙂 And is the present tense of 아니다: 1) 아녀요 or 2) 아니요?

    • yara nabil

      When saying/speaking “no” for question, you can say “아니요(No)” or “아니오”. We Korean often say “아니오”, The latter “아니오” isn’t right in grammar, though.

      Otherwise, “아니-에요” is conjugated form of “아니다”.

      아니-어요(아녀요). or 아니-에요.

      for example,

      이것은 책입니까? Is this a book?
      아니요. 이것은 책이 아니에요. No, this is not a book
      예, 이것은 책이에요. Yes, this is a book.

      도와주셔서 감사합니다. Thank you for helping me.
      아니에요. 별일 아닙니다. (it is) Not at all, it’s no big deal. (not 아니요).

    • Kenny Lau

      The present tense of 내다 is 내요.
      The present tense of 아니다 is 아니에요. 아녀요 and 아니요 are wrong.

  • initale

    Thank you for the awesome lessons! I’m eagerly awaiting my first books :-). In the meantime, I have a question about the 어요 ending and how it works with been stems ending in 이.

    In the PDF, I see the combination of of 보이 + 어요 = 모여요. Do all verb stems ending in 이 become 여 when combined with 어?


    • Chikim

      Yes, this is right^^

  • Guys, don’t be confused with verb stems ending in ㅣ. Just always remember if a verb stem ends with ㅣ it will ALWAYS be replaced with ㅕ and then add 요 at the end for politeness.

    1. 보이다 (to be seen) becomes 보여요.
    2. 마시다 (to drink) becomes 마셔요.
    3. 기다리다 (to wait) becomes 기다려요.

  • lynnout

    tried a few…

    가다 >> 가요
    먹다 >> 먹어요
    때리다 >> 때러요
    듣다 >> 들어요
    주다 >> 줘요
    만들다 >> 만들어요

    감사합니다~ ^^

    • Kenny Lau


      때리다 >> 때려요/때리어요

  • Nana Atmaja

    I want to ask 듣다 —> 들어요
    But why the tittle of I HEAR YOUR VOICE (drama) is 너의 목소리가 들려, why not 너의 목소리가 들어. Please someone explain it.

    • yara nabil

      ‘듣다’ means ‘hear something’.
      I hear a strange sound. (이상한 소리를 듣다.)
      ‘들리다’ is a passive form of ‘듣다’.
      A strange sound is heard. (이상한 소리가 들리다.)
      i searched for it on google and that’s what i got .. i hope it would be easy for you.

    • Kandace Park

      I’m not sure but I feel like it’s the way it’s pronounced. For it flows with ease on the tongue. Some words are usually typed or spelled the way they are sounded in Korean (not for formal use, though).

  • Anukiraha Uthayarajan

    It’s weird to hear “Yeah right” because in England it is used more sarcastically.

  • Maya Rijkelijkhuizen

    안녕하세요! I tried a few.

    묻다 (mut-da) -> 묻어요 (mut-eo-yo)
    울다 (ul-da) -> 울어요 (ul-eo-yo)
    주다 (ju-da) -> 주어요 (ju-eo-yo)
    사다 (sa-da) -> 사아요 (sa-a-yo)
    마시다 (ma-si-da) -> 마시다 (ma-si-eo-yo)

    Please tell me in hangul and romanized if they are correct or not. I’m not good at hangul just yet, so romanization is very useful for me. 감사합니다!

    • Kandace Park

      주다 becomes 줘요 (jwo-yo)
      마시다 becomes 마셔요 (ma-shyeo-yo)
      However, all the rest are right 🙂 Note that 묻다 has both regular and irregular forms. ~

    • Maya Rijkelijkhuizen

      Thank you 🙂

  • Daniela Arechiga

    So if we are speaking, in order to not make a mistake we have to know how the word is written?, I mean, it’s difficult for me to tell if it’s either ㅗ [o], or ㅓ(eo), they sound the same for me, so if I listen to a verb, and it ends with an “o” sound, I won’t know if I have to use either 아요 or 어요 because I don’t know how it is written, can someone please help with this?

    • Lee Shin

      This might not help but I think o is closer to “ooh” and eo is closer to “uh”. I’ve also noticed that a lot of Koreans kinda pucker their mouths when they’re saying o and they don’t when they’re saying eo, even if it sounds really similar.

  • Makayla Nicole

    Would 갖다 be an irregular verb? I read that if ㅏ or ㅗ is anywhere in the ending letter of the verb stem, you should use 아요. For example, 앉다 would use 아요 since ㅏ is in 앉, making 앉다 into 앉아요 in present tense. I tried this with 갖다, but when I tried checking myself online through a translator, 갖아요 didn’t translate. Should 갖다 use 아요 or 어요?

    • Wojcik117

      갖다 indeed is supposed to be conjugated into 갖아요.

    • Kenny Lau

      Your translator has some problems. 갖다 is indeed conjugated into 갖아요.

  • Kevin

    So, would “먹어요” be considered a complete sentence then? Like, “I’m eating.”

    • Kenny Lau

      it would mean “I eat” etc.

      “I’m eating” would be 먹고 있어.

    • Kevin

      Isn’t that past tense though? Like I ate, I did eat, I was eating?

    • Kenny Lau

      I eat = 먹어요
      I ate = 먹었어요
      I am eating = 먹고 있어요
      I was eating = 먹고 있었어요

  • Elly Wood

    okay i had a go, let me know if any are wrong please!

    읽다 – 딝어요
    자다 – 자요
    놀다 – 놀아요
    일하다 – 일하요
    쉬다 – 쉬어요/쉬여요??? (I really don’t have a clue about this one lol!)

    thanks in advance 🙂

    • Thu Thuy

      It’s 일해요 and 쉬어요. 🙂

    • Luana Adriano

      how do I know when I should use 해요? I never know 🙁

    • Ariel

      하다 becomes 해요 when conjucted into present tense (it’s an exeption). So it’s never 하요 since it doesent really exist. 🙂

    • Luana Adriano

      Oh ok, thank you so much!

  • Julia

    안녕하세요! I have a question about conjugating verbs ending with ㄹ. Why do some ㄹ verbs (i.e. 놀다 and 팔다) conjugate with 아요 but others (i.e. 멀다) conjugate with 어요? Is there a basic rule we can follow? 감사합니다!

    • Ai-mee Ding

      I’m not fluent in Korean but I’d take a wild guess and say that it depends on what vowel comes before ㄹ if the vowel is ㅏ or ㅗ (like in 놀 and 팔) it will get 아요 like the rule and if it doesn’t end in those vowels it will get 어요 and you kind of “ignore” the ㄹ because the rule only applies to the last vowel not the consonants so basically if you take a word you look at the last vowel of the word not necessarily the last letter of the word which can be a consonant, hope this helped!

    • Julia

      Ai-mee 씨 감사합니다! What you said makes a lot of sense. I went through some more verbs ending in ㄹ and it looks like it does matter what vowel appears before it!

  • Ai-mee Ding

    안녕하세요! In this lesson we learnt that conjugating a verb in present tense you use 어요, 아요 and 여요 but in lesson 8 they conjugated 아니다 to 아니에요 why isn’t it 아니어요? Also what is the difference between 아니요 and 아니에요 and when do you use them?

    • Julia

      If you haven’t seen it already, check out Grace Jin’s question down below in the discussion section and the answers given. It’s basically the same question as yours!

    • Ai-mee Ding

      Oh thanks I didn’t see it but I’ll go look now!

    • 썬이

      아니 is not a verb

    • Ai-mee Ding

      oh wow I didn’t even realise this makes a lot more sense now thank you

  • Gaia Rietveld

    I have the level 1 workbook, and while making the dictation exercises I got a bit confused. One of the words was 보여요, but I thought that if the last vowel was ㅏ or ㅗ as in 보다, you should use 아요. And during the lesson it was explained that in the case of 보다 the right form would be 봐요. So then what is 보여요?

    • Félix

      보여요 is the conjugated form of the verb 보이다 wich means ” to be seen” (보다 is a similar but different verb: “to see”), 이+어요=여요 wich gives 보여요. I hope it’ll be a bit clarified for you 🙂

  • V HOPE

    For 잡다 (to catch) why is 아요 used instead of 어요???

    • banoffi

      The last vowel for 잡 is ㅏ, so 아요 should be used.

    • V HOPE


  • Anna

    I’ve tried to form some of these. Please, correct me if I got it wrong somewhere.

    to work: 일하다 (il-ha-da) -> 일하아요 -> 일하요(il-ha-yo)
    to give: 주다 (ju-da) -> 주어요 (ju-eo-yo)
    to buy: 사다 (sa-da) -> 사아요 -> 사요 (sa-yo)
    to drink: 마시다 (ma-si-da)-> 마시어요 -> 마셔요 (ma-syeo-yo)
    to read: 읽다 (ilg-da) -> 읽어요 (ilg-eo-yo)
    to sleep: 자다 (ja-da) -> 자아요 -> 자요 (ja-yo)
    to play, to hang out: 놀다 (nol-da) -> 놀어요(nol-eo-yo)
    to have a rest: 쉬다 (swi-da) -> 쉬어요 -> 수ㅕ요 (swi-yeo-yo)
    to hit: 때리다 (ttae-ri-da) -> 때리어요 -> 때려요 (ttae-ryeo-yo)
    to laugh: 웃다 (ut-da) -> 웃어요 (ut-eo-yo)

    • 썬이


      to work: 일하다 -> 일*하* -> 일하여요 -> 일해요
      to give: 주다 -> 주어요 -> 줘요
      to play/hangout: 놀다 -> 놀아요 (pay attention to ㅗ not ㄹ)
      to rest: 쉬어요

      hope this helps!

    • Anna

      Thank you so much!

    • 장민현

      Hi! I believe for 놀다 (to play/to hangout) the basic present tense form would be “놀라요”.
      The “ㄹ” sound carries over!
      Good luck!

  • Lili

    What are they saying at 16:50 It sounds like: 이 름 은… I thought that meant “my name is..” She also says what sounds like:이 름 은 사 랑 헤 – what does it mean can someone help me??

    • Dominika

      In 16:50 she says 여러분 it means everybody … and earlier she says 여러분 사랑해요 it means I love you all, or I love all of you.

    • Lili

      oh!!!! Thank you Dominika! 🙂

  • Nathalie


    • Lee Shin

      봐요 is sometimes used instead.

  • Al

    So will a sentence always end in a conjugated verb phrase, because I’ve seen/heard sentences that don’t end in 아/어, 야/여, 요 or 다.

    What are the other endings for?
    I’m confused lol

    • Lee Shin

      Maybe you’re thinking of the deferential present -ㅂ니다/습니다? 아요/어요 is only the basic polite present tense, there are other verb forms.

  • Sana ShyShyShy

    I made some examples
    자(다) -> 자 + 요 = 자요 (I sleep/sleep)
    사(다) -> 사 + 요 = 사요 (I buy/buy)
    이기(다) -> 이기 + 어요 = 이기어요 (I win)
    끝나(다) -> 끝나 + 요 = 끝나요 (It’s done/finished)
    썰(다) -> 썰 + 어요 = 썰어요 (It’s cut/sliced)
    만들(다) -> 만들 + 아요 = 만들아요 (It’s made)
    I don’t know if they’re all correct because i’m still confused a bit. 감사합니다~

    • Lee Shin

      만들어요 is more correct, I think. And I’m not sure but I think 이겨요 is also OK.

  • Monica Toran

    Soooo if I want to say something in present simple but I want to use casual language I just drop 요, right?

    • Lee Shin

      That technically sounds correct to me but I believe that you should avoid using that unless you want to come across as rude..

  • celeste

    why학교is follow by갔어요but not었어요? the “gyo” do not have “o” sound right? pls help ><

    • Lee Shin

      The verb root to go somewhere is 가, not 교. 교 is part of the noun for school. ㅏ goes with 아요(present) or 았어요 (past). Hence 학교 갔어요, not 학겼여요(?)

  • 신 켄넷

    Aren’t these things being the thing that makes the sentences polite?

  • Far Ah BenNai

    오빠야!! 잘가요!!

  • Erin

    is this correct: 춤추다 = 춤춰요 and 춤추하다 = 춤추해요? if thats correct then whats the difference, if any, between 춤춰요 and 춤춰요?