In Korean Expressing Possession and Being with –있다/없다

2015 January 6
by juyeon

Hello everyone!

Today I would like to talk about a phrase –있다/없다. This is frequently used to express whether a subject possess an object in question or to indicate there is (are). First, –있다 means 1) a subject has something 2) there is (are), and goes properly in written format. In spoken language, using -있어요 sounds more natural. See examples in below.

1. 돈이 있어요 – I have money
2. 남자친구가 있어요 – I have a boyfriend
3. 책상 위에 벌레가 있어요 – There is a bug on the desk

–없다 means 1) a subject does not possess an object in question 2) there is not (are not) and is added to the end of the sentence. In spoken language, -없어요 sounds more natural. See examples in below.

1. 돈이 없어요 – I do not have money
2. 남자친구가 없어요 – I do not have a boyfriend
3. 책상 위에 벌레가 없어요 – There is not a bug on the desk

Creating questions with the above sample sentences is easily achievable by simply putting a question mark (?) at the end of each sentence when writing and raising your tone at the last letter when speaking. One thing to note about making a question format is that different particles used in sentences (e.g. 이/가) can be omitted if author or speaker prefers to do so. See examples in below.

1. 돈(이) 있어요? – Do you have money?
2. 남자친구(가) 있어요? – Do you have a boyfriend?
3. 책상 위에 벌레(가) 있어요? – Is there a bug on the desk?
4. 돈(이) 없어요? – Don’t you have money?
5. 남자친구(가) 없어요? – Don’t you have a boyfriend?
6. 책상 위에 벌레(가) 없어요? –Isn’t there a bug on the desk?

I hope this article helps your study. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any further questions. Also check out our Twitter for the latest news on Korea.
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