Future Tense / -ㄹ/을 거예요, 할 거예요
Object-marking Particles / -을, -를
And, and then, therefore, so / 그리고, 그래서
And, with / -하고, -(이)랑
Days In A Week / 요일
But, However / 그렇지만, 그런데
“To” someone, “From” someone / 한테, 한테서
Telling The Time
Counters / 개, 명
Present Progressive / -고 있어요
Self-introduction / 자기소개
What Is Today's Date? / 날짜
Too, Also / -도 (part 1)
Too, Also / -도 / (part 2)
Only / -만
Very, A bit, Really, Not really, Not at all / 아주, 조금, 진짜, 별로, 전혀
Can, Cannot / -ㄹ 수 있다/없다
To be good/poor at ... / 잘하다/못하다
Making Verbs Into Nouns / -는 것
Have to, Should, Must / -아/어/여야 되다/하다
More.. than... / -보다 더
To like / 좋다 vs 좋아하다
If, In case / 만약, -(으)면
Still, Already / 아직, 벌써
Something, Someday, Someone, Somewhere / 누군가, 무언가, 어딘가, 언젠가
Imperative / -(으)세요
Please do it for me. / -아/어/여 주세요
Particles For Method, Way / -(으)로
More, All / 더, 다
Don’t do it. / -지 마세요
Test Your Korean – Level 2 Dialogue in 100% Korean
In the previous lesson, we learned how to say that you “can” or “cannot” do something. Let’s expand your Korean skills even further by taking a look at how to say that you are “good” or “bad” at doing something.
The basic construction for saying “to do something” is:
[object] + -을/를 (= object marker) + 하다 (= to do). You can add 잘 [jal] or 못 [mot] to this in order to express being “good” or “bad” at something.
~을/를 잘하다 = to be good at ~ (lit. to do ~ well)
~을/를 못하다 = to be poor at ~ (lit. to do ~ poorly)
노래 [no-rae] = singing; song
노래를 잘하다 [no-rae-reul ja-ra-da] = to be good at singing; to sing well
요리 [yo-ri] = cooking; dish
요리를 못하다 [yo-ri-reul mo-ta-da] = to be poor at cooking; to cook poorly
If you say “못 하다” with a space between 못 and 하다, it means “to be unable to do” or “cannot do” something. 잘[jal] is often added in front of this to make the meaning clearer. By saying “잘 못 하다”, you literally say that you “cannot do something well” or “are unable to do something well”, which is similar to being poor at it.
요리를 못하다 = “to be poor at cooking” OR “cannot cook”
요리를 잘 못 하다 = “to be poor at cooking”
수영 [su-yeong] = swimming
수영을 잘하다 [su-yeong-eul ja-ra-da]
= to be good at swimming
수영을 못하다 [su-yeong-eul mo-ta-da]
= to be bad at swimming
= cannot swim
수영을 잘 못 하다 [su-yeong-eul jal mot ha-da]
= to be bad at swimming
*You must be careful when you say “잘 못 하다.” If you say “잘 못 하다” with a space between 잘 and 못, it means “to be poor at something,” but if you say “잘못 하다”, it means “to do something in the wrong way”. Additionally, if you say “잘못하다”, it means “to make a mistake”, so be careful where you put the accent! ;-)
Are 잘 and 못 (or 잘 못) only used with -하다 verbs?
No. Other types of verbs can be used with 잘 and 못 as well. Since the first parts of most -하다 verbs are nouns, it is easy to detach the noun part from -하다 and add 잘, 못, or 잘 못 in front of -하다, but for other types of verbs that are not in the “noun + -하다” form, you just add 잘, 못, or 잘 못 in front of the verb with a space in between.
잘 달리다 = to run well; to be good at running
잘 쓰다 = to write well; to be good at writing
However, when a verb is used only on its own like this, very often, the meaning isn’t very clear (i.e. 쓰다 can be both ‘to write’ and ‘to use’) and the phrase sounds incomplete. A noun is added to the phrase to pair up with the verb to make it more complete.
잘 쓰다 --> 글을 잘 쓰다 (= You are a good writer. You are very good at writing things.)
[lit. “to write well”]
글 is a noun for “a piece of writing” or “a composition”, it’s basically written text.
잘 쓰다 --> 글씨를 잘 쓰다 (= You are good at writing by hand.)
[lit. “to write writing/letters well”]
Here, the word 글씨, meaning “writing” or “letters”, was used to make the meaning of “writing”
more clear and prevent people from thinking that it might mean “to use”.
잘 달리다 --> 달리기를 잘하다 (= You are good at running.)
[lit. “to do running well”]
Here, 달리다 was changed to its noun form, 달리기, and was followed by 잘하다.
저는 노래를 잘 못 해요. [jeo-neun no-rae-reul jal mot hae-yo.]
= I can’t sing well. / I’m not good at singing.
제 친구는 수영을 잘해요. [je chin-gu-neun su-yeong-eul jal hae-yo.]
= My friend is good at swimming.
저는 퍼즐을 잘 풀어요. [jeo-neun peo-jeu-reul jal pu-reo-yo.]
= I am good at solving puzzles.
저는 글씨를 잘 못 써요. [jeo-neun geul-ssi-reul jal mot sseo-yo.]
= My handwriting is not good.
저는 글을 잘 못 써요. [jeo-neun geu-reul jal mot sseo-yo.]
= I’m not good at writing.
매운 거 잘 먹어요? [mae-un geo jal meo-geo-yo?]
= Are you good at eating spicy food?