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Beginner 2 > Lesson 12

Lesson 12. Verb’s Modifier Form

First, let’s rewind how to use adjectives to describe a noun.

First of all, we need to take adjective’s stem and then put either “ㄴ” or “은”, depending on the last syllable of the stem.


Adjective Stem + /

For example:

행복한 여자 – A happy woman (행복하다 (to be happy) > 행복하 + ㄴ)

작은 아기 – A small baby (작다 (to be small) > 작 + 은)

즐거운 일생 – A joyful life (즐겁다 (to be joyful) > 즐거 + 운)

*When an adjective ends in “ㅂ”, it gets deleted and then we add “운” to the stem.

긴 머리 – Long hair (길다 (to be long) > 길다 > 긴)

**when adjectives end in “ㄹ”, “ㄹ” changes to “ㄴ”.


  1. Modifying a Noun with a Verb in the Present Tense

Now, let’s learn how to modify nouns with verbs.

For example, when a verb modifies a noun you can say:

The woman I love > 내가 사랑하는 여자

The man reading a book > 책을 읽는 남자

People who plant trees > 나무를 심는 사람들

The reason I love you > 내가 너를 사랑하는 이유

As you can notice, there’s a common pattern in these examples. The modified noun always comes last.

So, to make a sentence with a noun modified by a verb, you can use this construction:

Sentence (with the subject, object, and adverb, etc.) ending in a Verb (Stem) + + Noun

매일 한국어를 공부하는 학생 – A student who studies Korean every day

내가 일하는 회사 – The company that I work at

일찍 일어나는 새 – A bird that wakes up early (or, An early bird)

채소를 좋아하지 않는 아이* – A child who doesn’t like vegetables

*in this example, the verb “좋아하다” combines with a negative ending “~지 않다” and then we make it in a modifier form using “는”.


It is also possible to apply the same rule to Present Progressive. Let’s look at the examples:

엄마를 기다리는 아이들 – The children who are waiting for mom (a regular present form is used)
= 엄마를 기다리 는 아이들 – The children who are waiting for mom (here, we combined “Verb Stem + ~고 있다 + 는”)

점심을 먹는 사람들 or 점심을 먹고 있는 사람들 – People eating lunch

자는 아이 or 자고 있는 아이 – A sleeping baby


You can also use this construction with Noun 이/가 있다 or 없다 verb. 

For example:

창문이 있는 방 – A room with a window

창문이 없는 방 – A room with no window

끝이 없는 게임 – An endless game


There are also irregular verbs that require a different conjugation.

When a verb stem ends in “ㄹ”, you need to delete “ㄹ” and add “는” right after.

A crying baby > 우는 아기 (울다 (to cry) > 우 +는) > or 울고 있는 아기

The person I know > 내가 아는 사람 (알다 (to know) > 아 + 는)

The person that knows me > 나를 (or 날) 아는 사람 (알다 (to know) > 아 + 는)

Foreigners who live in Korea > 한국에 사는 외국인 (살다 (to live) > 사 + 는)

A making method > 만드는 방법 (만들다 (to make) > 만드 + 는)


  1. Modifying a Noun with a Verb in the Past Tense

So far, you’ve learned how to modify a noun with a verb in the present tense. Now, let’s look at how to modify it in the past.

To do so, you have to put “ㄴ/은” after a verb stem.

Verb Stem + / + Noun

And you’ll get:

그 영화를 보는 사람 – A person who watches that movie (present) > 그 영화를 사람 – A person who watched that movie (past)

공부를 열심히 하는 학생들 – The students who study hard (present) > 공부를 열심히 학생들 – The students who studied hard (past)

책을 읽는 사람 – A person who is reading a book (present) > 책을 읽 사람 – A person who read a book (past)

오지 않는 사람들 – The people who don’t come (present) > 오지 않 사람들 – The people who didn’t come (past)

많이 먹는 아이 – A child who eats a lot (present) > 많이 먹 아이 – A child who ate a lot (past)

나한테 전화 남자 (past) – The man who called me

어제 밤에 아기 (past) – The baby that cried last night

* ”ㄹ” is also irregular in the past tense. To conjugate a modifying verb, we need to delete “ㄹ” and add “ㄴ”.

내가 만든 목걸이 – The necklace I made


So now we know that to modify a noun with a past verb, we need to add “ㄴ/은” to its stem.

However, when a verb has “있다/없다” in it, it follows a different rule. Let’s look.

Such modified past forms as “없은/있은” don’t exist.

Instead, you have to use these:

있다 > 있던 or 있었던

없다 > 없던 or 없었던

For example:

차가 없던/없었던 남자 – A man who didn’t have a car.

The usage of “~던” and “았/었던” will be explained in Intermediate 1 lesson. 


  1. Modifying a Noun with a Verb in the Future Tense

You take a verb stem and put “ㄹ/을” after it.

Verb Stem + / + Noun

Let’s look at examples:

할 일* – The things that I will do. (=things to do)

살 것*  – The things that I will buy. (=things to buy)

*to not confuse the usage of “일” and “것”, both of them mean “thing.” But “일” is used when you talk about non-tangible things like situations or work, whereas, “것” is used for the tangible.

일어날 시간 – The time that I’ll wake up (=time to get up)

갈 곳 – The place that I will go to (=places to go)

(제가) 읽을 책 – Books I will read (=books to read)

먹을 음식 – The food that I will eat today (=food to eat)

제프가 사지 않을 것들 – The things that Jeff won’t buy


[Quick Summary]
Present Tense: Verb (Stem) + + Noun

*있다 and 없다 are used with “는”.
**ㄹ > you need to delete “ㄹ” and add “는”.

Past Tense: Verb Stem + / + Noun

*”ㄹ” >  deleted and “ㄴ” is added.
**있다 > 있던 or 있었던

없다 > 없던 or 없었던

Future Tense: Verb Stem + / + Noun