이/히 – Korean Grammar vs Grammar #13

3 Speed Only

With Explanation

Like many other episodes in Grammar vs Grammar series, 이 and 히 sound similar. It is hard for learners and even native speakers to discern them. Let's learn how to do that.

1. If the word came from 하다 verbs, it is 히. If not, it is 이.

When learning Korean, you might have felt that there are too many 하다 related things. If the -히/-이 ended adverb has 하다 form, it is 히. If not, it is 이. It's the main rule. You can discern almost every word with this rule.

Examples of 히 ended words that follow this rule are 간소히 from 간소하다(simple), 간편히 from 간편하다(convenient), 엄격히 from 엄격하다(strict), etc.

비용이 많지 않으니 간소히 준비하거라.
As we don't have much money, prepare it simply.

이 병동은 외부인의 출입을 엄격히 제한하고 있습니다.
This ward strictly restricts the entrance of strangers.

Examples of 이 ended words that follow this rule are 굳이, 많이, 높이, 헛되이, etc.

굳이 말 안 해도 알겠지?
You can understand it if I don't tell you. Right?

많이 와 주셔서 감사합니다.
Thank you for so many of you coming here.

2. When the Characters are Repeated, it is 이.

Some adverbs have repeated characters like 겹겹이(layer over layer), 간간이(sometimes), 샅샅이(thoroughly), 곳곳이(everywhere), 곰곰이(carefully, usually used as 곰곰이 생각하다(thinking carefully)), etc. In these cases, you should use 이 not 히.

겹겹이 옷을 껴 입어도 춥네.
It's still cold even though I wore layers of clothes.

샅샅이 찾아 보는 수밖에 없겠다.
We should find it more thoroughly.

It is also true if the repeated words are more than a single word like 나긋나긋이(talking warmly and silently).

3. If the word ends with ㄱ or ㅅ even though it has 하다 form, then it is 이.

If every word follows the first rule I said earlier, it might be great, but there are exceptions. If the word roots end with ㄱ or ㅅ like 깨끗이(clearly, neatly), 버젓이(openly), 지긋이(quite), 반듯이(in order, in a line), 나지막이(silently), 깊숙이(deeply), 멀찍이(in a long distance), etc, you should use 이.

상 위를 깨끗이 닦았다.
I cleaned the table neatly.

그녀는 반듯이 앉아서 손님을 기다렸다.
She sat straight and waited for the guest.

그는 아이를 찾기 위해 산 깊숙이 들어갔다.
He went into the mountain deeply to find the kid.

4. If the original form is ㅂ irregular, then use 이.

When the original form or the word is ㅂ irregular, then use 이. Although this is a rule, but they doesn't end with 하다, so you can also apply our main rule here, too.

The examples are 한가로이(leisurely, 한가롭다), 가벼이(lightly, 가볍다), 괴로이(painfully, 괴롭다), 너그러이(generously, 너그럽다), 부드러이(softly, 부드럽다), 새로이(newly, 새롭다), 쉬이(easy, 쉽다), 외로이(lonelily, 외롭다), 즐거이(pleasantly, 즐겁다), etc.

마음을 새로이 하고 다시 시작하자.
Let's start with new minds.

한가로이 TV나 보고 있을 때가 아닐 텐데.
It is not time for you to watch TV like a bump on a log.

5. There are Still Exceptions.

Although what we have learned covers almost everything, there are still some exceptions. The first type is 가만히 and 도저히. If you find the dictionary, you can find verbs like 가만하다 and 도저하다. It is hard to find people use them, they are rare words. Although they follow our main rule by the dictionary, they look like exception because they came from the rare words. You should remember these words and need to be careful when you use them.

Another exceptions are the words like 솔직히(frankly) or 엄격히(strictly). Their roots end with ㄱ, but they have 히. It is said that 솔직 came from 한자, so it is 히 not 이. You should memorize them, too.

My final recommendation is "when you are not sure for something, just find the dictionary. It is the most definite way to find the right word. And don't be discouraged because of these. As I said at first, it is one of the many grammars that even native speakers have hard time. Even I learned that 깊숙이 is correct and 깊숙히 is wrong when I was preparing for this post."