Those of you who have experienced learning a language before, a European language especially, may be familiar with two very useful verbs that your teachers will stress the importance of continually. ‘To have’ and ‘to be’ are usually two separate verbs, which can cause a headache when you’re trying to remember all the conjugations. Whether it be a blessing or a curse, these verbs are actually the same word in Korean! Let’s find out how to use it…

The verb ‘있다’ (it-da) literally means ‘to exist’. If you’re familiar with verb conjugation in Korean, you’ll know that you don’t have to memorise a different conjugation for each pronoun. So in the plain present tense, it would become 있어요’ (iss-eo-yo) and means, ‘I have,’ ‘I am,’ ‘He has,’ ‘She is,’ ‘We have,’ ‘They are,’ etc. If you want to say anything is something or has something, you use ‘있다’.

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We can look at some simple examples – all present tense – to understand further:

시간 있어요? //  Do you have time?

문제 있어요. //  There is a problem. We have a problem.


The opposite of ‘있다’ is ‘없다’ (eobt-da) and means ‘to not exist’. We can change the meaning of the previous sentences with this word.

시간 없어요. // I don’t have time. There is no time.

문제 없어요. // No problem. (lit. ‘No problem exists.)


Can you try making some sentences in the comments below with these two verbs? You can even try to make a simple, sample conversation. If you have any questions about Korean, let us know you have a problem and we’ll do our best to help!


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