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Korean grammar - Introducing Causative Verbs - 사동사

Introducing Causative Verbs - 사동사

A causative verb (사동사) represents an action that was prompted or caused by some other action, regardless of the will of the subject.

Causative verbs are an important feature of Korean.

Many common causative verbs have unique forms that need to be memorised. A few of the more common ones are:

먹다 (to eat) 먹이다 (to feed, to cause to eat)

듣다 (to hear) 들리다 (to be heard, to cause to be heard)

깨다 (to wake up, to awake) 깨우다 (to wake someone up, to cause someone to wake up)

앉다 (to sit down) 앉히다 (to seat, to sit someone down)

Causative verb are often combined with 주다 to give the sense that causative verb is being done for, or for the benefit, someone.

배고픈 아이한테 우유를 먹여요.
(I) feed the hungry child milk.

먹다 (to eat) 먹이다 (to feed, to cause to eat)

엄마가 아기에게 자장가를 들려줬어요.
The mother had the baby listen to a lullaby.

들리다 means 'to cause to be heard'

An indirect way to say that 'she sung a lullaby to the baby'

엄마가 아기를 깨웠어요.
(The) mother woke the baby up.

깨다 (to wake up, to awake) 깨우다 (to wake someone up)

저는 아이를 의자에 앉혔어요.
I sat the child in a chair.

앉다 (to sit down) 앉히다 (to seat)

삼촌은 나에게 이 오래된 책을 읽히셨어요.
(My) uncle told (me) to read this old book.

읽다 (to read) 읽히다 (to make read)

그녀는 더러워진 고양이를 씻겨 줬어요.
She washed the cat that had gotten dirty.

씻다 (to wash) 씻기다

더러워지다 means 'to become dirty'

그는 손자들에게 동화를 들려주는 것을 좋아해요.
He likes to tell fairy tales to his grandchildren.

손자 means 'grandchild'

들려주다 means 'to tell'

문이 닫히면 아기의 소리가 들리지 않아요.
If the door is closed the baby's crying cannot be heard.

닫다 means 'closed

닫히다 means 'to cause to be closed'

그는 손자들에게 유령 이야기를 읽어주는 것을 좋아해요.
He likes to read ghost stories to his grandchildren.

유령 means 'ghost'

읽어주다 means 'to read to'

동생이 귀찮은 모기를 죽였어요.
(The) younger brother killed the annoying mosquito.

죽다 (to die) 죽이다 (to kill, to cause to die)

햇빛이 얼음을 녹였어요.
The sun melted the ice.

녹다 (to melt) 녹이다 (to cause to melt)

형이 아이를 울렸어요.
(The) older brother made the child cry.

울다 (to cry) 울리다 (to make cry)

그가 가방에 훔친 돈을 숨겼어요.
He hid the stolen money in a bag.

숨다 (to hide oneself) 숨기다 (to hide, to conceal)

훔치다 means 'to steal'

엄마가 동생을 재웠어요.
(The) mother put (the) younger brother to bed

자다 (to sleep) 재우다 (to put to bed)

형이 동생을 웃겼어요.
(The) older brother made (his) younger brother laugh.

웃다 (to laugh) 웃기다 (to make laugh)

그가 그릇을 비웠어요.
He emptied the bowl.

비다 (to be empty) 비우다 (to make something empty)

그 의자에 아기를 혼자 앉히지 마세요.
Please do not seat the baby in that chair alone.

앉다 (to sit down) 앉히다 (to seat)