쓰다, 적다 – Korean Words vs Words #20

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

I am going to tell you about the two basic writing verbs today. One is 쓰다 and the other one is 적다. They are sometimes interchangeable, but in many cases, they are not.

쓰다

쓰다 is used when you just write letter on something. I told you writing letters because when you use 쓰다, you usually try hard to write the letter correctly, especially pretty. You can think that 쓰다 has something to do with calligraphy. In addition, 쓰다 is used when you need any kind of creativity. When you write the lyric of the song, letter to your friend, novel or nonfiction to be published, 쓰다 is used.

요즘 블로그에 소설을 하나 써 보고 있다.
I am writing a novel on my blog these days.

그녀가 그 곡을 썼을 때에는 무명 가수였다.
When she wrote that song, she was nobody.

칠판에 글씨를 쓰면 뭔가 잘 안 써진다.
It doesn't look good when I write on the blackboard.

적다

적다 is like dictation. You don't need to use your brain, just write down. It is usually used with simple piece of idea or information like memo(메모를 적다), writing a phone number on your notebook(수첩에 전화번호를 적다), etc.

미리 적어 놓은 내용을 참조하며 만화를 그려 나가기 시작했다.
He started drawing a cartoon while consulting the content he already wrote.

When you read what you have written, it doesn't take any creativity even though it does when the time of writing, so the verb 적다 is used here. However, if you want to emphasize your creativity, then you can use 쓰다 here like this:

미리 써 놓은 내용을 참조하며 만화를 그려 나가기 시작했다.

수첩에 방금 지나간 차 번호를 적어 두었다.
I wrote the number of the car that just passed.

답안지에 적어 놓은 답을 다시 한 번 읽어 보고 있다.
I am now reading again the answer I wrote on the sheet.

As you all know, being creative is not a black and white criteria, so you can use both of them interchangeably in some cases. In our last example(답안지에 적어 놓은 답을 다시 한 번 읽어 보고 있다), if the test is about writing an essay, then it needs some creativity, so you can use 쓰다 instead of 적다 here like this:

답안지에 써 놓은 답을 다시 한 번 읽어 보고 있다.