[Learn Korean E18] “이었어요/였어요”, “이요/요” (past & present tense ending for nouns)

안녕하세요. 토미입니다.

Let’s have fun learning Korean!
Today’s theme is 【무슨 시험이었어요?】 “What test was it?”

Today, we will learn about the past tense ending for nouns [이었어요/였어요] “was/were,” and the present tense ending for nouns [이요/요] “is/am/are.”

To pass TOPIK 1, you definitely have to memorize these expressions.

Let’s imagine ourselves speaking Korean fluently and being the super master of Korean!

그럼 시작할게요!

[Learn Korean #E18] "이었어요/였어요", "이요/요" (past & present tense ending for nouns)

Listen to the Conversation

The title of today’s conversation is 【무슨 시험이었어요? 】”What test was it?”

Sangmin and Tammy seem to have had a test.
I wonder whether they got good scores.
Let’s listen to the conversation with English subtitles first.

그럼 들어보세요!

  • 상민:토미 씨, 어제 무슨 시험이었어요?
    Sangmin:Tammy, what test was it yesterday?
  • 토미:영어였어요. 왜요?
    Tammy:It was English. Why?
  • 상민:그 날 저도 영어 시험이었어요. 저는 50점이었어요.
    Sangmin:On that day, I also had an English test. I got 50 points.
  • 토미:저보다 좋네요. 저는 30점이었어요.
    Tammy:That’s better than mine. I got 30 points.
  • 상민:우리 초콜렛이나 먹고 앞으로 힘내요.
    Sangmin:Let’s eat some chocolate, and cheer up from now on.
  • 토미:고마워요. 내일은 일본어 시험이 아니었어요?
    Tammy:Thank you. Wasn’t there a Japanese test tomorrow?
  • 상민:맞아요. 저는 오늘도 밤새요.
    Sangmin:That’s right. I’m up all night again today.

Vocabulary and Phrases

Now, I will explain the vocabularies and phrases while reviewing the conversation one sentence at a time.

  • 상민:토미 씨, 어제 무슨 시험이었어요?

[시험] means “test/exam”.
But you have to pay attention here.
In English, we say “to take a test.”
So, we use “take” for the verb.
In Korean, we say [시험을 보다] “to watch a test”.
So the verb is [보다] to watch/look.
When someone says [시험 잘 봐], it means “Good luck with your test”.
Korean use this phrase often between classmates or parents say this to children when it is close to exam dates.

  • 토미:영어였어요. 왜요?

[왜] means “why”.
So [왜요?] is “Why?” in a polite form.

  • 상민:그 날 저도 영어 시험이었어요. 저는 50점이었어요.

We learned [이, 그, 저] which means this, that(close), and that(far).
However, strangely, in Korean, we say [이 날] “this day” and [그 날] “that day” but somehow we don’t really use the expression [저 날] “that day”.
Basically, when you want to express “that” day in Korean, you say [그 날].

[점] means “~points”.
If you want to say a score, you use the Sino-Korean numbers.
When you say [백점], it means “100 points”, and usually it is full marks in Korea.
In opposite, when you say [빵점], it means “0 points”.
By the way, the word [빵점] is pronounced the same as [빵] bread that we eat, so students sometimes refrain from eating bread on the very important exam day.

  • 토미:저보다 좋네요. 저는 30점이었어요.

The verb [보다] means “to see”, but if you make [noun + 보다], it can also become a particle that means “more than”.
This is easy to use in a sentence because you just need to add [보다] after a noun whether or not there is a final consonant.

Here, Tammy said, [저보다 좋네요]. “That’s better than mine.”
[저] means “mine” and [보다] means “more than”.
Together, it becomes [저보다] “better than mine”.

  • 상민:우리 초콜렛이나 먹고 앞으로 힘내요.

In the sentence [초콜렛이나 먹고] “Eat some chocolate”, Sanmin said [(이)나] as a particle “some”.

[앞으로] is a positive word that means “from now on”.
Korean often use this in greetings, such as [앞으로 잘 부탁드리겠습니다.], which means “I hope to get along with you from now on.”

[힘내다] means “to cheer up”, and it is a word made up by combining [힘] “power” and [내다] “to make, to produce.”

  • 토미:고마워요. 내일은 일본어 시험이 아니었어요?

The original form of [고마워요] is [고맙다] which means “to thank.”
Another similar expression is [감사하다] “to thank.”

  • 상민:맞아요. 저는 오늘도 밤새요.

[밤새다] means “to stay up all night”.
The Chinese-originated noun, [철야] also means “staying up all night”.

Grammar

Next, let me explain the grammar.
First, let’s learn how to make a past tense ending for nouns.

This has only two patterns.
When there is a final consonant, you use [이었어요] and when there is no final consonant, you use [였어요].
In the conversation, there was a phrase

  • 어제 무슨 시험이었어요?
    What test was yesterday?

In this case, [시험] “test” has a final consonant, so you add [이었어요?] to make a question.

Let’s look at the next example.

  • 저는 50점이었어요.
    I got 50 points.

Here as well, [50점] has a final consonant, so you add [이었어요] to say [50점이었어요] “I got 50 points”.

In English, it is natural to say, “I got 50 points.”
But the direct translation in Korean would be “ I was 50 points.
That’s why Sangmin said [50점이었어요] in the conversation.

Next, let’s take a look at an example without a final consonant.
In the conversation, there was a phrase.

  • 영어였어요.
    It was English.

Here, [영어] “English” does not have a final consonant, so you add [였어요] to say [영어였어요] .

Noun + 이/가 아니었어요 “It was not~”

Next, I will explain how to make a negative sentence ending of past tense for nouns, [이/가 아니었어요], “was not” or “were not”.

There are also two patterns of use.
If the noun has a final consonant, you just add [이 아니었어요].
If there is no final consonant, you just add [가 아니었어요].

In the conversation, there is a phrase

  • 내일은 일본어 시험이 아니었어요?
    Isn’t there a Japanese test tomorrow?

Here, [시험] “test” has a final consonant, so you add [이 아니었어요?] to say [시험이 아니었어요? ] “Isn’t there a test?”

Let’s take a look at nouns without a final consonant.

  • 김포공항 비행기가 아니었어요.
    It was not an airplane from Gimpo Airport.

Here, [비행기] “airplane” does not have a final consonant, so you add [가 아니었어요] to say [비행기가 아니었어요] “It was not an airplane.”

Quiz

① [그 사람은 토미 씨 남동생(       ).]
That person was Tammy’s younger brother.

(1)이었어요 (2)였어요

The answer is (1).
Because [남동생] “Younger brother” has a final consonant, you add [이었어요] to say [토미 씨 남동생이었어요].

② [모레는 휴일(          ).]
The day after tomorrow was not a holiday.

(1)가 아니었어요 (2)이 아니었어요

The answer is (2).
Because [휴일] “holiday” has a final consonant, so you add [이 아니었어요.] to say [휴일이 아니었어요].

이요/요

Next, let’s go over [이요/요], “is, am, are”. Basically, all you have to do is to add [이요] when a noun has a final consonant, and add [요] when a noun does not have a final consonant.

But, when there are particles like [이/가, 을/를, 은/는], you add [요] whether or not there is a final consonant.

With a final consonant + 이요
First, you use [이요] for a word with a final consonant.

  • 여기 비빔밥이요.
    Here is bibimbap.
[비빔밥] has a final consonant, so you add [이요] and it becomes [비빔밥이요].

However, the expression actually means “Can I order Bibimbap here, please.”
So, Korean use [이요/요] to order something.

Without a final consonant +

  • 왜요?
    why?

Here, [왜] does not have a final consonant, so you add [요] to say [왜요] “why” in a polite way.

Somehow, Koreans never say [왜예요?].
It is always [왜요?].

Another phrase Koreans use commonly is [여기요]. “Here”.
Again, [여기] does not have a final consonant, so you add [요] to say [여기요].
[여기요]’s direct translation would be “Here.”
But, it means “Excuse me,” so you can get attention from someone in service.

Especially, when you are ready to order food in a restaurant, take a cab, or receive any other kind of service, you can use this phrase.

If you are traveling in the near future, you might want to remember this.
You can use [이요/요] with a particle to give the nuance of “~isn’t it”.

For example, you can say [저는요, 실은요, 남자 친구가 있어요.] “ I do, actually, have a boyfriend.”

Here, it is important to note that when you add a particle like [는/은], you can use [요] whether or not the particle has a final consonant or not, like [저는요, 실은요] “ I am, actually”

Quiz

① 과자(   )?
Is it a snack?

(1)이요 (2)요

The answer is (2).
Because [과자] “a snack” does not have a final consonant, so you add [요] to say [과자요?] “Is it a snack?”

② 토미 씨를 추천합니다.
I recommend Tammy.

저를(   )? Me?

(1)이요 (2)요

The answer is (2), because [저를]’s 를 is the object marker, which is a particle.
So, you add [요] and say [저를요?]

Conversation (Korean only)

Now, let’s try to listen to the conversation only in Korean.
You should be able to understand it much better than the beginning.

그럼 확인해 보세요!

  • 상민:토미 씨, 어제 무슨 시험이었어요?
  • 토미:영어였어요. 왜요?
  • 상민:그 날 저도 영어 시험이었어요. 저는 50점이었어요.
  • 토미:어, 저보다 좋네요. 저는 30점이었어요.
  • 상민:우리 초콜렛이나 먹고 앞으로 힘내요.
  • 토미:고마워요. 내일은 일본어 시험이 아니었어요?
  • 상민:맞아요. 저는 오늘도 밤새요.

Conversation Practice

Now, let’s read it aloud.
I’ll play the audio one sentence at a time, so please read along with me.

그럼 큰소리로 읽어 보세요!

  • 상민:토미 씨, 어제 무슨 시험이었어요?
    Sangmin:Tammy, what test was it yesterday?
  • 토미:영어였어요. 왜요?
    Tammy:It was English. Why?
  • 상민:그 날 저도 영어 시험이었어요. 저는 50점이었어요.
    Sangmin:On that day, I also had an English test. I got 50 points.
  • 토미:저보다 좋네요. 저는 30점이었어요.
    Tammy:That’s better than mine. I got 30 points.
  • 상민:우리 초콜렛이나 먹고 앞으로 힘내요.
    Sangmin:Let’s eat some chocolate, and cheer up from now on.
  • 토미:고마워요. 내일은 일본어 시험이 아니었어요?
    Tammy:Thank you. Wasn’t there a Japanese test tomorrow?
  • 상민:맞아요. 저는 오늘도 밤새요.
    Sangmin:That’s right. I’m up all night again today.

Homework

The first homework is to write two sentences.
For the first sentence, use the past tense for nouns [이었어요 / 였어요] was/were.
For the second sentence, you can make a past tense negative for nouns.

For example,

  • 어제는 친구 생일이었어요.
    Yesterday was my friend’s birthday.
  • 모레가 아니었어요.
    It wasn’t the day after tomorrow.

The second homework is memorizing vocabulary.
Please, memorize 40 words from No. 321 to 360 on page 5 of the beginner’s word list.
At the end of this page, you can take a 40-word quiz, so please challenge it for yourself.

I’m really looking forward to seeing you again in the next class!
그럼 오늘도 행복 가득,웃음 가득한 하루 되세요.
한국어 화이팅 화이팅 화이팅!!

Vocabulary Test : 40 Questions

There will be 40 multiple choice questions in total displayed in random order, testing on Vocabulary #321~360 from the Beginner Level Vocabulary List.
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