낳다/낫다/낮다 – Korean Grammar vs Grammar #24

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With Explanation

One of the things Korean Language learners ask when they learn 한글 is how to read ㅅ in the last consonant(받침). The answer is to read it like t. In addition, they learn ㄷ, ㅅ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅎ sound same when they are in 받침 place. Many of you might have heard the grammar jargon, 일곱 끝소리 되기(becoming 7 ending consonant sounds). It means 14 basic consonants and their combinations become only 7 sounds.

Because of this rule, some words are confusing. We will cover one of them today, 낳다, 낫다, 낮다.

낳다

The basic meaning of 낳다 is giving birth to. You can use it to people or animals.

닭이 알을 낳으면 모아다 팔았다.
When the hen laid eggs, I collected and sold them.

그녀는 예쁜 쌍둥이를 낳았다.
She gave birth to cute twins.

From this meaning, one more meaning is generated. Many problems can cause another problems. It looks like problems are giving birth to other problems. It's a bit like problems are reproducing. That's why 낳다 got the meaning 'result in'

계속되는 거짓말은 서로 간의 불신을 낳았고, 결국 패배했다.
The continuous lies result in the distrust between each other, and they finally lost.

사랑이 기적을 낳았다.
The love created the miracle.

낫다

The first 낫다 means to be better.

나처럼 땀이 많은 사람에게는 겨울이 여름보다 낫다.
For the people like me who sweat a lot, winter is better than summer.

둘 중에 이게 더 나아 보인다.
This one looks better between 2 of them.

The second meaning of 낫다 is to be healed or cured. It got this meaning because your state or body gets better if your illness is healed.

그의 병은 다 나았다.
His disease is cured clearly.

그렇게 하면 병이 다 낫는다고?
Did you say that the disease is cured by doing that?

Many native speakers use 낳다 in 낫다 as they sound similar, but they are clearly different. I have two things to tell you about them.

First of all, 낫다 and 낳다 have different conjugations. When you make them in future tense, both of them are 낫겠다 or 낳겠다. When you add 지 next to the verb stem, both of them are 낫지 and 낳지. However, there are many differences. In past form, 낫다 is 나았다, 낳다 is 낳았다. It is also true in many other conjugations. In assumption form adding -으면 next to the verb stem, 낫다 is 나으면, 낳다 is 낳으면. This rule is applied to -아, 낫다 is 나아 and 낳다 is 낳아, etc. Although they look different, almost all of them have same pronunciation. One of the few exceptions are basic form 낳다, 낫다, 다 sounds like [타] in 낳다 as ㅎ + ㄷ is usually ㅌ. I think that's the main reason that many Koreans are confused with it.

Conjugation 낳다 낫다
-겠다 낳겠다 낫겠다
-지 낳지 낫지
-았다 낳았다 나았다
-으면 낳으면 나으면
-아 낳아 나아

Secondly, 경상도 사투리(the 경상 province dialect) version of 낫다 is 나수다 or 나순다. Many people in 수도권(capital area) once lived in 경상도 or they are the descendants of 경상도 people, so you can hear some people say like 그의 병은 다 나수었다. 그렇게 하면 병이 다 나순다고? It is not a standard, a dialect.

낮다

Many people have hard time with 낳다 and 낫다. However, they don't have with 낮다. It means being low.

저 산은 낮지만 많이 험하다.
Although that mountain is low, it is steep.

온도가 낮아서 조금 기다려 봐야겠다.
The temperature is low, so I should wait a little.

투표율이 많이 낮아졌다.
The turnout became really low.

When 낮다 is conjugated, the sound of ㅈ is revived. If you pronounce 낳아서 or 나아서, the sound of 아 is clearly 아. However, 아 in 낮아서 sounds like 자. When 낮다 is conjugated with endings or makers which start with ㅇ, you can hear the ㅈ sound like 낮아서, 낮은, 낮으면, 낮을, etc. Maybe, this is the reason many native speakers don't confuse 낮다 with 낳다 or 낫다.