-어/-아/-니/-지/-냐/-나(Question Verb Endings of Korean) – Korean Grammar vs Grammar #2

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

Korean is more complicated than English because of many reasons. One of them are verb endings. Today, I am going to tell you about endings used in questions, -어/-니/-지/-냐/-나.

Before we start, I tell you that these question endings are for 반말. You should use it to your close friends or someone very younger than you.

-어/-아/-니

-어 and -니 are both used for questions. It's just basic question ending. They are used when you want to know something. If you are curious for something, just use -어/-아/-니. That's fine.

언제 끝낼 거니? 세 시간이나 지났어.
When will you finish it? 3 hours already passed.

오늘 뭐 했어?
What did you do today?

When to use -어/-아 is decided by vowel harmony, but there is always exception. In the example above, "오늘 뭐 했어?", ㅐ in 했 is Positive vowel, so it should be 아 next to it. However, no Korean says like 오늘 뭐 했아? I will cover more about vowel harmony later.

One more note. The ending -니 sounds softer than -어. Because of that, it is more frequently used by women than men. However, many men use -니, too.

-지

When we ask question, we are sometimes sure that the listener knows the answer. In English, tag questions like "Are we?", "Don't you?", "Right?" are used to express your confidence. In Korean, -지 is used to show that mind. In Korean, there is no grammar rule for tag question. They usually use "맞지(Right)?", "아니야(Wrong)?" or "틀려(Wrong)?" for tag question.

너 지금 집에 가려 그러지? 맞지?
You are now going back home. Right?

그거 들고 도망 가려는 거지?
You are running away with it. Aren't you?

-냐

-냐 is the ending you should use with some care. It is used between really close friends. If you use this to the stranger, then you will look like gangster. So don't use it if you are not really close to someone. In addition, it is usually used between teenagers. Adults use -냐 less frequently than kids.

영어 공부 했냐?
Did you study English?

돈 좀 있냐? 지갑을 잃어 버려서 돈이 한 푼도 없다.
Do you have some money? I don't have any because I lost my wallet.

-나

The final question ending is -나. It is usually used between men. It is hard to find women who use this. In addition, it is usually used between aged men. For some reason, it is used a lot between agents in movies like 007(Koreans read it as 공공칠), and Avengers. It is usually used by the commander who want to know more about the situation.

준비는 다 되었나? 그럼 출발하도록 하지.
Are you ready? Now let's begin.

설명은 다 읽어 보았나?
Did you read the explanation?

As these are 반말 forms of verb endings, I will tell you about 존댓말 endings tomorrow.