[Grammar] 피동문 – Passive Sentence

In active voice sentences, subjects ‘do’ some actions while subjects ‘get/receive’ some actions in passive voice sentences.

(내가) 문을 열었다. I opened the door. (active voice)
문이 열렸다.  The door is open. (by wind/someone) (passive voice)

There are two ways to make a passive sentence in Korean. The first one is with ‘passive verbs’, and the other one is ‘Verb+아/어/여지다’.  For example,

경찰도둑을 잡았다. (잡다 : to catch, grab) – Police caught a thief.
도둑경찰한테 잡혔다. (잡히다 : be caught) – A thief was caught by police.


동생접시깼다. (깨다 : to break) – My sister broke a plate.
접시깨졌다. (깨어지다 => 깨지다 : be broken) – A plate was broken.

If a verb has a passive form, you should use the passive form. If not, you use -아/어/여지다.

Passive verbs are already fixed, mostly are added -이-, -히-, -리-, -기- after a verb stem. For example,

  • Verbs with -이- 
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
보다(to see) 칠판이 잘 안 보여요.I can’t see the black board.
쓰다(to write) 영어로 쓰인 책을 읽을 수 없어요. I can’t read books written in English.
놓다(to put on) 책상 위에 놓인 책은 가지고 가지 마세요. Please don’t take those books that are on the desk.
쌓다(to stack) 눈이 많이 쌓여서 학교에 갈 수 없어요. I can’t go to school because the snow piles up too much.
섞다(to mix) 물과 기름은 섞이지 않아요. Water and oil don’t mix.
바꾸다(to change) 친구와 핸드폰이 바뀌었어요. I took my friend’s phone by accident.
  • Verb with -히-
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
먹다 토끼가 사자한테 먹히지 않으려고 도망간다. The rabbit is running away not to be eaten by a Lion.
읽다 이 책은 어려워서 잘 안 읽힌다. I can’t read this book fast because it is too difficult.
잡다 도둑이 경찰한테 잡혔다. A thief was caught by police.
밟다 버스 안에서 발을 밟혀서 정말 아팠다. I was stepped on my foot, it was really hurt.
접다 돈이 접혀서 ATM기에 안 들어간다. I can’t put the money in the ATM machine because it is folded.
업다 아기가 엄마 등에 업혀 있다. The mom gives the baby a piggyback ride. The baby is on the mom’s back.
  • Verb with -리- 
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
팔다 이 펜은 싸서 잘 팔린다. This pen is sold very well because it’s cheap.
밀다 차가 밀려서 좀 늦었어요. I was late because there was a traffic jam.
풀다 이 머리 끈은 잘 안 풀려서 좋다. This hair band is good because it is not loose.
열다 문이 잘 안 열리니까 세게 열어야 돼요. You have to open really hard because it doesn’t open very well.
걸다 전화가 안 걸리는데요. The phone can’t get through.
듣다 잘 안 들리는데 크게 말해 주시겠어요? I can’t hear you, can you speak louder?
  • Verb with -기-
동사(Verb) 피동사(Passive verb)  피동문(Passive sentence)
안다 아기가 아빠에게 안겨서 잠을 잔다. The baby is sleeping in the dad’s arms.
씻다 이 얼룩이 잘 안 씻겨서 두 번이나 빨았어요. This stain doesn’t go away that well, so I washed twice.
찢다 이 책의 45쪽이 찢겨서 읽을 수 없어요. The page 45 of this book was ripped, so I can’t read.
쫓다 도둑이 경찰한테 쫓기고 있습니다. The thief is chased by police.
뺏다 오늘 강도를 만나서 돈을 뺏겼어요. I was robbed by a robber today.
끊다 전화가 끊겨서 이야기를 다 못했어요. I couldn’t finish talking because the phone was cut off.


If there are not matching passive verbs, then add -아/어/여지다 after a verb stem.

동사 -아/어/여지다  
만들다 만들어지다 이 병은 유리로 만들어졌어요. This bottle is made of glass.
깨다 지다 컵이 떨어져서 깨졌어요. The cup was dropped and broken.
켜다 지다 손을 대면 불이 저절로 켜질 거예요. If you touch, the light will be on automatically.
끄다 지다 전기가 나가서 텔레비전이 꺼졌어요. The power was off, so TV was turned off.
이루다 이루어지다 소원이 이루어질 거예요. Your dream will be come true.


Passive voice is often confusing with causative sentences which are ‘make/have/let someone do’, but they are different.

You can study causative sentences by clicking here. 

You can listen to the audio files by clicking here. 

[Grammar] -(이)나 and -밖에

CYMERA_20130709_122812In this picture, 반 밖에 should be 반밖에. There is no space between 반 and 밖에.


-(이)나 and 밖에 both are particles. -(이)나 is used after a noun, it means ‘or’.  For example,

라면이나 우동을 시킬까요? Shall we order noodles or Udon?
초록색이나 빨간색을 입으세요. Please wear green or red.

Sometimes ‘이나’ is used after numbers/amount, it means  ‘the number is more than the speaker expected’. For example,

어제 술을 네 잔이나 마셨어요. I drank alcohol 4 glasses last night. (it means that she/he drank more than usual)
커피 값이 만 원이나 해요? Is a cup of coffee 10,000? (it is expensive)
커피를 하루에 다섯 잔이나 마셔요? Do you drink coffee 5 times a day? (you drink a lot)
세뱃돈을 5만원이나 받았어요. I got 50,000 Won at the New Year’s money. (it is more than I expected.)
집에 친구들이 20명이나 왔어요. 20 friends came to my home.(a lot of friends!)
오늘 공원에 차가 50대 있었어요. There were 50 cars at the park today. (a lot of cars!)
물이 반이나 남았어요. There is a half cup of water. (still a lot)



On the other hand, if you use -밖에 instead of -(이)나, it means totally opposite.  -밖에 is used after noun, it means ‘only’.  When you use Noun+밖에, you have to use a negative word or expression with a verb/adjective.  For example,

오늘은 커피를 한 잔밖에 안 마셨어요. I only drank a cup of coffee. (=오늘은 커피를 한 잔만 마셨어요.)
파티에 선생님밖에 안 왔어요. Only my teacher came to the party. (파티에 선생님만 왔어요.)

Therefore, when 밖에 is used after numbers/amount, it means ‘only this amount of number’ which expresses unpleasant meaning.  For example,

A: 어제 술을 얼마나 마셨어요?
B: 조금밖에 마셨어요.
A: How much did you drink yesterday?
B : I only drank a little bit.
매달 월급을 백오십만 원밖에 받아요.  I only get 150,000 Won every month for salary.
일주일에 운동을 3시간밖에 해요.  I only work out 3 hours a week.
일 년에 한 번밖에 여행을 갈 수 없어요.  I only can go travel once a year.
돈이 조금밖에 없어서 비싼 음식을 먹을 수 없어요.  I only have a little bit of money, so I can eat expensive food.
이 요리는 아주 쉬워요. 5분밖에 걸려요. This food is easy to make. It only takes 5 minutes.
물이 반밖에 지 않았어요.  There is only a half cup of water.

You can listen to the pronunciation for those examples here.