Passive form

From Korean Wiki Project
Jump to: navigation, search

The passive voice is a grammatical voice in which the subject receives the action of a transitive verb. Passive voice emphasizes the process rather than who is performing the action. In Korean this form is called 피동. There are few patterns to help distinguish between active and passive voices in Korean verbs. This makes this more difficult to learn than a regular Korean grammar rule.

Passive verbs still work as action verbs but now the object (that usually takes 을 or 를) has become the subject of the sentence (takes the particles: 이 or 가).

  • 막아요. [Traffic] blocks the road.
  • 막혀요. The road is blocked [by traffic]. (막히다 is much more common in this scenario)

Many active voice English expressions should be translated to the passive form in Korean. (Only using the passive form is natural in Korean.)

  • It looks fine. ☞ 괜찮아 보여요. [It] is seen to be fine.
  • It sounds like English. ☞ 영어처럼 들려요. [It] is heard like English.
  • I can't see the blackboard well. ☞ 칠판이 잘 안 보여요. The blackboard is not seen well (by me).
  • Can you hear my voice? ☞ 내 목소리 들리냐? Is my voice heard (by you)?
  • The game has begun. ☞ 게임이 시작되었다. The game has been begun. (A game can't begin something because it has no ability to decide. There must be a human who had decided to begin the game. The "game" is passive, not active.)
  • This book is selling very well. ☞ 이 책은 아주 잘 팔리고 있다. This book is being sold very well. (A book can't sell something because it's not a human. The "book" is passive, not active.)
  • The door is opening. ☞ 문이 열리고 있다. The door is being opened. (A door can't open something because it has no ability to decide. If a door is opening, there must be something else affecting the door such as wind, dogs, installed automatic mechanisms, etc. Even if it's a haunted door, it should be opened by a ghost inside it, not by the door itself. The "door" is passive, not active.)
  • This bowl is filling up. ☞ 이 그릇이 채워지고 있다. This bowl is being filled up.
  • It feels like I am your teacher. ☞ 내가 마치 네 선생님인 것처럼 느껴진다. [It] is felt like I am your teacher. ("It" is a dummy subject. A dummy subject can't feel something because it is not a living being. "It" must have been felt by someone. English speakers might be used to these expressions, but this kind of nonsense has no place in Korean. It feels, a book sells, a game begins, a door opens, a door closes, it looks, etc.)
※ Grammar Breakdown
내가 네 선생님 : I your teacher
내가 네 선생님이다 : I am your teacher.
내가 네 선생님인 : (NOUN) that I am your teacher ("-인" is the attributive form of "-이다" meaning "be, am, are, is". "-이다" and "-인" both are the present tense.)
내가 네 선생님인 것 : the thing that I am your teacher
내가 네 선생님인 것처럼 : like the thing that I am your teacher
내가 네 선생님인 것처럼 느껴진다 : (It) is felt like the thing that I am your teacher. (느껴진다 (is felt) is the present tense)
마치 means "as if". You can put 마치 anywhere in the sentence or just omit it. Word order is not that important in Korean in the first place. You can also declare a topic with 나는(난) anywhere in the sentence. English speakers usually place a much value on word order and try to focus on word order of Korean, because English is an analytic language in which word order is very important for understanding the meaning. Korean is not an analytic language, so you should change your approaching method. You should focus on how various suffixes are attached at the end of each word to assign their grammatical roles in a sentence, rather than word order. If you are not familiar with the word order of Korean, you can practice in any word order you want. You can refine it later when you are more experienced. Even if you change word order as you want, the Koreans would have no problem understanding your Korean though it might sound a bit unusual or wacky. I am demonstrating this to show word order is actually kind of irrelevant in Korean. Destroy your stereotype given by your native language, and don't be afraid of being different about word order.
나는 느껴진다 마치 내가 네 선생님인 것처럼.
나는(As for me) 느껴진다(it is felt) 마치(as if) 내가(I) 네(your) 선생님인(teacher am that) 것처럼(the thing like).
The "-인" in "선생님인" is an attributive form as already explained, which means a noun (in this case, 것) has to be followed. So, the word order "선생님인 것처럼" is fixed and can't be changed. They are kind of integrated by the suffix "-인".
This is another possible translation.
나는(As for me) 내가(I) 느껴진다(am felt) 마치(as if) 네(your) 선생님인(teacher being) 것처럼(the thing like).

Some Korean passive forms should be translated to the active voice in English. (Both the active and passive forms are natural in Korean, but only the active voice is natural in English.)

  • 이 현실이 믿기지가 않았다. This reality was not believed (by me). ☞ ([I] couldn't believe this reality.)
  • 이 현실을 믿을 수가 없었다. [I] couldn't believe this reality.

Many passive voice English expressions should be translated to the active form in Korean. (Both the active and passive voices are natural in English, but only the active form is natural in Korean.)

  • I was interviewed. ☞ 나는 면접을 받았다. (I received an interview.) : ("-을 받다" can be considered a passive form itself. "나는 면접을 봤다" is also possible but this is nowhere near a passive form.)
  • I was brought here. 나는 여기에 데려와졌다. (Although it can be literally translated, it sounds unnatural in Korean.) ☞ 그 사람이 나를 여기에 데려왔다. He brought me here.
  • I was told that you were my son. (If I have to translate "be told", it would be 말해지다 or 이야기되다 but these expressions are unnatural in Korean) ☞ 네가 내 아들이라고 들었다. ([I] heard that you are my son.)
※ Grammar Breakdown
네가 내 아들 : you my son
네가 내 아들이다 : You are my son.
네가 내 아들이다라고 : (VERB) that "You are my son"
네가 내 아들이라고 : (VERB) that you are my son (if "아들" doesn't have an ending consonant, -이라고 becomes -라고. for example, 친구 + (이)라고 → 친구라고)
네가 내 아들이라고 듣다 : to hear that you are my son
네가 내 아들이라고 듣는다 : Hear(s) that you are my son.
네가 내 아들이라고 듣겠다 : Would hear that you are my son.
네가 내 아들이라고 들었다 : Heard that you are my son.
네가 내 아들이라고 들었겠다 : Would have heard that you are my son.
네가 내 아들이라고 : (VERB) that you are my son
네가 내 아들이라고 하다 : to tell that you are my son
네가 내 아들이라고 한다 : Tell(s) that you are my son.
네가 내 아들이라고 하는 : (NOUN) that tells that you are my son
네가 내 아들이라고 하는 이야기 : a story that tells that you are my son
네가 내 아들이라고 하는 이야기를 들었다 : Heard a story that tells that you are my son.
네가 내 아들이라는 얘기를 들었다 (contracted from the previous sentence, same meaning)
네가 내 아들이란 얘길 들었다 (above sentence can be even further contracted, that is similar to the actual colloquial language. See the shrinking process "아들이라고 하는" → "아들이라는" → "아들이란", and "이야기를" → "얘기를" → "얘길". This kind of process happens all the time in Korean, and it is the key to understand the actual spoken language.)
If you want to clarify the subject who heard the story, declare a topic with 나는(난).
난 네가 내 아들이란 얘길 들었다 : As for me, (I) heard a story that tells that you are my son. (this final sentence looks simple, but it has a quite complex structure, especially in the "아들이란" part.)

The Korean passive and causative conjugations pose many confusing aspects, and most Korean materials don't even teach this part properly. This grammar part may even be hard for some native Korean speakers. For example, 굽다 has two meanings and their conjugational forms are completely different.

  • 굽다1 : to be bent
  • 굽어지다 : to (naturally) become bent : (-어지다 is always passive. in this case, 굽다 follows the regular conjugation rule. this "naturally" means "not by someone intentionally")
  • 굽히다 : to make something become bent , to bend something : (this -히 is causative)
  • 굽혀지다 : to become bent by someone : (causative -히 + passive -어지다. try to pronounce 굽히어지다 fast then you get 굽혀지다.)
  • 굽다2 : to bake
  • 구워지다 : to be baked : (-어지다 is always passive. in this case, 굽다 follows the ㅂ irregular conjugation rule. try to pronounce 구우어지다 fast then you get 구워지다.)
※ The "pronounce fast and get something" rule is applied to all verbs except for the irregular 으 dropping verbs. You can see an irregular example of 잠그다 at the end of this page.

In the example above, -히 is a causative suffix, but it can be a passive suffix either in many other verbs.

  • 먹다 : to eat
  • 먹히다 : to be eaten : (this -히 is passive)
  • 먹혀지다 : to be eaten : (passive -히 + passive -어지다. this is wrong as it is a double passive)
  • 먹이다 : to make/let someone eat , to feed : (this -이 is causative)
  • 먹여지다 : to be fed : (causative -이 + passive -어지다. this is correct but hardly used.)

In some cases, the passive and causative forms are morphologically identical.

  • 보다 : to see
  • 보이다1 : to be seen : (this -이 is passive)
  • 보여지다1 : to be seen : (passive -이 + passive -어지다, this usage is wrong as it is a double passive)
  • 보이다2 : to make/let someone see , to show : (this -이 is causative. to avoid confusion, 보여주다 is used in most cases)
  • 보여지다2 : to be shown : (causative -이 + passive -어지다)

Many verbs have two possible passive forms but only one of them is preferred in most cases. (the less preferred one might even sound unnatural) For some verbs, however, the two passive forms are equally preferred, either one is fine.

  • 믿다 : to believe
  • 믿기다 : to be believed : (this -기 is passive)
  • 믿어지다 : to be believed : (-어지다 is passive)
  • 믿겨지다 : to be believed : (passive -기 + passive -어지다. this is wrong as it is a double passive)
  • 믿게 하다 : to make/let someone believe something : (in this case, -게 하다 is the proper causative form)

There are some verbs that even most native Koreans fail to conjugate correctly.

  • 잊다 : to forget
  • 잊히다 : to be forgotten : (passive -히)
  • 잊어지다 : to be forgotten : (passive -어지다, this form is correct but hardly used)
  • 잊혀지다 : to be forgotten : (a double passive using both -히 and -어지다. this is wrong)
  • 잊게 하다 : to make/let someone forget something : (in this case, -게 하다 is the proper causative form)

Not to be confused with the normal causative+passive form. (they look like the double passive form but they are different.)

  • 숨다 : to hide : (intransitive)
  • 숨기다 : to make/let something become hidden, to hide something : (causative -기)
  • 숨겨지다 : to become hidden by someone : (causative -기 + passive -어지다)
  • 남다 : to remain : (intransitive)
  • 남기다 : to make/let something remain, to leave something : (causative -기. not to be confused with 떠나다 meaning "to depart, to leave")
  • 남겨지다 : to be left : (causative -기 + passive -어지다)
  • 알다 : to know : (this verb follows the ㄹ irregular conjugation rule)
  • 알리다 : to make/let someone know, to inform : (causative -리)
  • 알려지다 : to be informed, to become known : (causative -리 + passive -어지다)

Some verbs don't allow the passive suffixes at all. These exceptional verbs need some special passive forms.

  • 죽다 : to die
  • 죽이다 : to make/let someone die , to kill : (causative -이)
  • 죽임을 당하다 : to be killed : (causative -이 + nominalization -ㅁ + passive -을 당하다)
  • 사망(死亡)하다 : to die : (Sino-Korean equivalent)
  • 살해(殺害)하다 : to kill : (Sino-Korean equivalent)
  • 살해(殺害)당하다 : to be killed : (Sino-Korean equivalent)
  • 살해(殺害)되다 : to be killed : (Sino-Korean equivalent)
  • 피살(被殺)되다 : to be killed : (Sino-Korean equivalent)

묻다 has three meanings and each of them has different conjugational forms.

  • 묻다1 : to bury : (this verb follows the regular conjugation rule)
  • 묻히다1 : to be buried : (this -히 is passive)
  • 묻어지다 : to be buried : (passive -어지다. this form is not much used)
  • 묻혀지다1 : to be buried : (passive -히 + passive -어지다, this usage is wrong as it is a double passive)
  • 묻게 하다 : to make/let someone bury something : (causative form with -게 하다)
  • 묻다2 : to be smeared : (this verb follows the regular conjugation rule)
  • 묻히다2 : to make/let something become smeared, to smear : (this -히 is causative. note that the previous 묻히다1 is passive)
  • 묻혀지다2 : to become smeared with something by someone : (causative -히 + passive -어지다)
  • 묻다3 : to ask : (this verb does not have a passive form. theoretically, it should be 물어지다 in the passive form but this is not used. instead, 물음을 받다 would work as the passive form. 물음 is a noun form of 묻다(to ask), as the object suffix -을/-를 is only attached to nouns. however, 물음을 받다 sounds kind of uncommon. the most frequently used passive form for this verb would be 질문(質問)을 받다, the Sino-Korean alternative. this 묻다3 verb follows the ㄷ irregular conjugation rule.)
  • 물어보게 하다 : to make/let someone ask something : (causative form with -게 하다. theoretically, it should be 묻게 하다 but this can be misunderstood as the 묻다1 verb.)

Adjectives can also become passive and causative verbs.

  • 낮다 : be(is) low (adjective)
  • 낮아지다 : to become low : (passive -아지다, verb)
  • 낮추다 : to make/let something low , to lower : (this -추 is causative)
  • 낮춰지다 : to become lowered by someone : (causative -추 + passive -어지다)
  • 높다 : be(is) high (adjective)
  • 높아지다 : to become high : (passive -아지다, verb)
  • 높이다 : to make/let something high : (this -이 is causative)
  • 높여지다 : passive form of 높이다 : (causative -이 + passive -어지다)
※ If you don't know why the passive ending -어지다 changes to -아지다 in this case, see Vowel harmony.
※ To be precise, [adjective + -어/-아지다] can't be called as "passive form" but practically there is no difference in Korean.

Some causative forms with the -우 suffix are inflected with the vowel ㅣ.

  • 자다 : to sleep (intransitive)
  • 재우다 : to make/let someone sleep : (자 + ㅣ + 우 + 다)
  • 재워지다 : passive form of 재우다 : (causative -우 + passive -어지다)
  • 차다 : to fill (intransitive. 차다 has many meanings and their conjugational forms are different by each meaning, as in 묻다 explained above.)
  • 채우다 : to make something filled, to fill something : (차 + ㅣ + 우 + 다)
  • 채워지다 : to be filled : (causative -우 + passive -어지다)
  • 서다 : to stand (intransitive)
  • 세우다 : to make/let something stand : (서 + ㅣ + 우 + 다)
  • 세워지다 : passive form of 세우다 : (causative -우 + passive -어지다)

The 르 irregular verbs follow a special pattern.

  • 구르다 : to roll (intransitive)
  • 굴리다 : to make something roll, to roll something (causative)
  • 굴려지다 : passive form of 굴리다
  • 누르다 : to press
  • 눌리다 : to be pressed (passive)
  • 눌러지다 : to be pressed (passive -어지다)
  • 눌려지다 : to be pressed (double passive, this is wrong)
※ 굴리다 and 눌리다 have the same pattern, seemingly they are easy. However, 굴리다 is causative, 눌리다 is passive. There is no specific way to know which one is passive and which one is causative. You have to just memorize them whenever you encounter new words. You have to look up in a dictionary to know if they are passive or causative. If you find this grammar part very confusing, it is normal. I guess you are doing well. Welcome to the most irrational and absurd part of Korean. This part will be the final hurdle on the road to master the grammar of Korean.

When verbs have a -하다 (to do) ending, the conjugations are different from the rules above. Most Hanja words (Chinese loanwords) belong to this part. When 하다 verbs have a monosyllabic stem, they tend to take the -어/-아지다 ending.
Note that the 하다 verb itself is irregular.
[하다 + -어/-아지다 → 하여지다 → 해지다]

  • 칠하다 : to paint
  • 칠해지다 (칠하여지다) : to be painted
  • 정하다 : to decide
  • 정해지다 (정하여지다) : to be decided

Note that there are many exceptions, this is not an established principle. For example, 변하다 (to change, intransitive) already works like a passive form without any conjugation. If you use 변해지다 which is wrong, the Koreans would instantly notice that you are not a native speaker. The native Korean counterpart for "to change", 바꾸다, has a normal passive form 바뀌다. In short,

  • 변하다 : (not used as the active form)
  • 변하다 : to be changed (passive / intransitive)
  • 바꾸다 : to change (active)
  • 바뀌다 : to be changed (passive)

바뀌다 and 변하다 are interchangeable because they both work as passive forms. For example,

  • My mind was changed = 내 마음이 바뀌었다 = 내 마음이 변했다 : 내 마음(my mind) is the subject of the sentence

바꾸다(active) can't be replaced with 변하다(passive).

  • [I] Changed my mind = 내 마음을 바꾸었다(바꿨다) : 내 마음(my mind) is the object of the sentence
※ If you want to use the stem 변 as a transitive verb, you must use other correct transitive verbs such as 변경하다, 변화시키다.

When 하다 verbs have a polysyllabic stem, they don't add the -어/-아지다 ending. Instead, the 하다 ending changes to 되다 or 당하다 or 받다. (you should memorize which one to use. most verbs allow one or two ways out of the three)

  • 결정하다 : to decide
  • 결정되다 : to be decided (Note : 결정하다 is a synonym of 정하다 above, the only difference is the prefix 결, but they follow different rules.)
  • 구타하다 : to beat up
  • 구타당하다 : to be beaten up (당하다 means "to suffer")
  • 지원하다 : to support
  • 지원받다 : to be supported (받다 means "to receive")

The causative form of 하다 is 시키다.

  • 실행하다 : to carry out
  • 실행시키다 : to make someone to carry out something
  • 실행하게 하다 : to make someone to carry out something

(Note : many 하다 verbs don't allow the 시키다 causative form. 하게 하다 can be applied universally)

Note that Korean adjectives can have the 하다 ending too, but the 하다 in adjectives is a different thing and doesn't mean "to do". The conjugation rules are also different. They take the -어/-아지다 and -게 되다 forms like verbs but the 시키다 causative form is not used. This poses another difficulty because 하다 verbs and adjectives look the same, so you can't determine if they are verbs or adjectives unless you look up in a dictionary. You should first figure out if they are verbs or adjectives, then you can apply the correct conjugation rule.

  • 깨끗하다 : be(is) clean (adjective)
  • 깨끗해지다 : to become clean (verb)
  • 깨끗하게 되다 : to become clean (verb)
  • 깨끗하게 하다 : to make/let something be(is) clean (-게 하다 causative)
  • 깨끗해지게 하다 : to make/let something become clean (-게 하다 causative)

(Note : adjectives don't count if the stem is monosyllabic or polysyllabic. the passive form is always "하다 → 해지다" and "하다 → 하게 되다")

Note that (하)게 하다 and (하)게 되다 are different. (하)게 하다 is a causative form for verbs and adjectives, (하)게 되다 is like "to become" for adjectives. If verbs take (하)게 되다, the meaning is slightly different. It's like "end up doing / get to do".

  • 결정하다 : to decide (verb)
  • 결정되다 : to be decided (verb)
  • 결정하게 하다 : to make/let someone to decide something : (the 시키다 causative form is not used for this verb)
  • 결정되게 하다 : to make/let something to be decided : (-게 하다 causative)
  • 결정하게 되다 : to end up deciding something , to get to decide something
  • 결정되게 되다 : to end up being decided : (same with other non-되다 passive verbs. for example, [정해지게 되다 : to end up being decided] , [구타당하게 되다 : to end up being beaten up] , [먹히게 되다 : to end up being eaten])
  • 결정해지다 (X) : (if you don't understand why this is wrong, read the explanation again. hint : 결정하다 is a verb and the stem 결정 is polysyllabic.)
  • 익숙하다 : be(is) accustomed (adjective)
  • 익숙하게 되다 : to become accustomed (verb)
  • 익숙해지다 : to become accustomed (verb)
  • 익숙해지게 하다 : to make/let someone to become accustomed (verb) : (-게 하다 causative)
  • 익숙되다, 익숙당하다, 익숙받다 (X) : (if you don't understand why this is wrong, read the explanation again. hint : 익숙하다 is an adjective.)

Double causative forms are possible and correct.

  • 죽이다 (죽게 하다) : to make someone die, to kill
  • 죽이게 하다 : to make someone kill (causative -이 + causative -게 하다) : (e.g. "Hey John, kill Lisa" → I made John to make Lisa die)
  • 재우다 (자게 하다) : to make someone sleep
  • 재우게 하다 : to make someone1 to make someone2 sleep : (e.g. "Hey Lisa, put me to sleep" → I made Lisa to make me sleep)
  • 재워지게 하다 : (causative -우 + passive -어지다 + causative -게 하다) : to make someone1 to make someone2 fall asleep by someone3 : (e.g. "Hey Lisa, make Sara fall asleep by someone" → I made Lisa to make Sara fall asleep by someone) (this is just a possible combination. if you find this hard, forget about it.)

In short, the conjugations for the passive and causative forms follow some patterns, but vary with individual verbs. (most passive verbs take one of -이, -히, -리, -기 or -어/-아지다 or -되다/-당하다/-받다. most causative verbs take one of -이, -히, -리, -기, -우 ,-구, -추 or -시키다 or -게 하다). The four suffixes -이, -히, -리, -기 are particularly tricky as they could be either passive or causative (or sometimes both). If you come across a Korean word you don't know, with one of the four suffixes, you can't really determine whether it is passive or causative unless you look up in a Korean dictionary, because the meaning of those four suffixes in individual verbs is arbitrary. (Say, if you come across an English word you don't know, with "-ed" ending, you can soon figure out that it is a past tense suffix for a verb, but you can't determine the function of the four Korean suffixes without a Korean dictionary) Besides, when they have the -하다 ending, you have to figure out if they are verbs or adjectives, because verbs and adjectives follow different rules despite looking exactly the same things. That's why most Korean materials for foreigners overlook or skip this grammar part. They (those who created Korean materials for foreigners) often say "Passive form is not much used in Korean" or "Passive form is not as common as it is in English". The first argument is wrong. Passive form is very common in Korean in fact. The latter argument might be true in many cases but dubious if it's concluded from any valid statistics. As previously shown, many active voice English expressions should be translated to the passive form in Korean, but it is often ignored. It seems like many Koreans aren't even aware that they are actually speaking in the passive form. I have never seen someone explain 믿기지 않다 or 믿어지지 않다 or 믿겨지지 않다 as the passive form. Most people just explain it as "can't believe". That's how you end up thinking the passive form is not common in Korean without understanding the underlying grammar structure. Depending on the situation, the passive form in Korean could be even more common than the passive voice in English.

There is another problem. The Korean-English dictionary is designed for Korean people trying to learn English, not for foreign people trying to learn Korean. 맺히다 is a passive form of 맺다 but if you find this word in the Korean-English dictionary, there is no such information and the definition doesn't even look like a passive voice, because English speakers seldom use the passive voice for this verb. If you find 팔리다 in the dictionary, the definition is either "sell" or "be sold" so English speakers may misunderstand 팔리다 has both meanings, but it is in fact the English word "sell" that has both meanings. I have already explained about 팔리다 at the beginning of this page. 열다 and 열리다 are even the same meaning "open" according to the dictionary. Therefore, you should find these words in the Korean-Korean dictionary. 피동사 means passive verb, 사동사 means causative verb so you can finally be 100% sure about them.

This grammar part is very confusing even for native Korean speakers. Many Koreans are still using double passive words like 잊혀지다, because they are not sure about the function of the -히 suffix. It feels like 잊히다 is not sufficient to represent a passive form, because -히 works as causative in many other verbs (as in 굽히다 and 묻히다2 above), so they just added the passive ending -어/-아지다 again to make sure that it is a passive form. (Try to imagine a word like "forgottened" which has an extra "-ed" suffix. That's what's called the double passive in Korean. Now think about the word "enlightened". The "-ened" suffix in "enlightened" is working like causative(-en) + passive(-ed), whereas the "-ened" suffix in "forgottened" is just a double passive. Now imagine there are tons of these things in English. It would be very confusing and at some point, you won't be sure if "forgottened" is correct or wrong, because there are many similar looking but correct words like "enlightened". It's exactly what is happening in Korean.) I think they (those who created Korean materials for foreigners) are just avoiding some nettlesome parts. Who would want to freak out their customers? In practice, each form of every verb should be memorized.

※ Further explanation about the passive form and the attributive form with tense.
In English, somehow the past participles are used for the passive voice, so English speakers naturally relate the completely different two concepts. In Korean, however, the past tense has nothing to do with the passive form. They are morphologically completely different. Besides, English verbs don't have any attributive conjugational forms. The verb conjugations are much simpler in English so it is causing misunderstandings or difficulties of Korean to English speakers. Think about this phrase "a pretty girl". English speakers never say "a pretty-ed girl" or "a pretty-will girl" so it is basically impossible to naturally convey connotations of Korean. I hope the following over specific translations can convey this Korean part.
A passive verb, for example, 먹히다 (to be eaten) is the infinitive form (the basic verb form used in the dictionary), it doesn't even have any tense (it is not the present tense. it literally has no tense whatsoever), so you should conjugate it in actual Korean. Let's make it to the attributive past tense.

  • 먹힌 닭 : a chicken that was eaten , a chicken that has been eaten (an eaten chicken) : (in Korean, the past and the present perfect tenses are kind of merged. in most cases, the present perfect can be just replaced with the past tense. in this page, probably it would be the only thing that is definitely simpler in Korean than it is in English.)

먹힌 alone implies three additional connotations along with the basic meaning "to eat". -히 stands for the passive form, -ㄴ/은 stands for the past tense and the attributive form combined. If the verb stem has an ending conosonant (e.g., 먹 in 먹다), -은 is used instead (먹다→먹은 as opposed to 먹히다→먹힌). Let's change it to the present tense.

  • 먹히는 닭 : a chicken that is eaten (a chicken that is being eaten. similar to 먹히고 있는 닭)

-히 stands for the passive form, -는 stands for the present tense and the attributive form combined. It looks exactly like 먹히 is a noun and -는 is the topic marker. It may be greatly confusing for beginners. It is what learners have to overcome. Let's change it to the future tense.

  • 먹힐 닭 : a chicken that will be eaten , a chicken that is going to be eaten (English doesn't have a grammatical future tense but Korean does.)

-히 stands for the passive form, -ㄹ/을 stands for the future tense and the attributive form combined. Let's change to the past-future tense.

  • 먹혔을 닭 : a chicken that would have been eaten (먹 + 히 + 었 + 을 → 먹혔을)

-히 stands for the passive form, -었 stands for the past tense, -을 stands for the future tense and the attributive form combined. See more variations.

  • 먹히던 닭 : a chicken that was being eaten (-던 implies the speaker is thinking about the past retrospectively)
  • 먹혔던 닭 : a chicken that was eaten before (similar to 먹힌 닭, retrospectively)
  • 먹혔었던 닭 : a chicken that had been eaten before (similar to 먹힌 닭 and 먹혔던 닭, retrospectively)
  • 먹히고 있는 닭 : a chicken that is being eaten (similar to 먹히는 닭 but emphasizing the action is being done now)
  • 먹히고 있던 닭 : a chicken that was being eaten
  • 먹히고 있었던 닭 : a chicken that was being eaten
  • 먹히고 있을 닭 : a chicken that will be being eaten
  • 먹히고 있었을 닭 : a chicken that would have been being eaten (this one is hard to translate. you should change the "have been" part to "was". imagine "would" and "was being eaten" are combined)
  • 먹히게 되는 닭 : a chicken that ends up being eaten (I've already explained about the -게 되다 grammar)
  • 먹히게 될 닭 : a chicken that will end up being eaten
  • 먹히게 된 닭 : a chicken that (just) ended up being eaten
  • 먹히게 되었던 닭 : a chicken that (had) ended up being eaten
  • 먹히게 되었었던 닭 : a chicken that had ended up being eaten
  • 먹히게 되었을 닭 : a chicken that would have ended up being eaten

Be careful it is slightly different for adjectives.

  • 예쁘다 : to be pretty (adjective)
  • 예쁜 닭 : a chicken that is pretty (a pretty chicken) : (unlike verbs, -ㄴ/은 stands for the present tense. it may be confusing)
  • 예뻤던 닭 : a chicken that was pretty : (this alternative past tense form is applied to adjectives, which is same with that of verbs)
  • 예쁘던 닭 : a chicken that was pretty : (implies the chicken used to be pretty, retrospectively)
  • 예뻤었던 닭 : a chicken that was pretty before (a chicken that had been pretty before)
  • 예쁘는 닭 (X) : (if 예쁘다 was a verb, -는 stands for the present tense, but it is an adjective so -는 is completely wrong)
  • 예쁠 닭 : a chicken that will be pretty : (the future tense follows the same pattern for verbs. in this case 예뻐질 닭 (a chicken that will become pretty) would be more natural.)

In short, -ㄴ/은 is the past tense for verbs, but present tense for adjectives. -는 is the present tense for verbs, but wrong for adjectives.

I have said that Korean verbs must be conjugated in a sentence, but there is a trap that makes a conjugated verb look like an ordinary infinitive form. Take a look at this sentence.

  • 먹히다 간신히 탈출했다.

In this sentence, 먹히다 looks exactly like the basic infinitive form, but it isn't in fact. That 먹히다 is contracted from 먹히다가 (먹히다 + -다가) meaning "while being eaten"

  • 먹히다가 간신히 탈출했다. : (Someone) Barely escaped while being eaten. (He was being eaten alive, but barely escaped.)

If you ever come across a verb in a sentence that looks like an unconjugated form, it is the -다가(while) form. It is just contracted to -다(while).
Korean has two different suffixes for the meaning "while". In fact, "-(으)면서" is more similar to the meaning of the English "while". Google if you want to know about the difference between -다가 and -(으)면서.
There is another case. In headlines or titles of some articles, the unconjugated verb form can be used.

  • 관광객, 상어에게 잡아먹히다! : A tourist, eaten by a shark! (this is supposed to be a headline of a news)

In this case, that 먹히다 is the unconjugated form. So, this headline has no tense. (먹힌다 for present tense, 먹혔다 for past tense)

※ -이다 vs -하다
Let's assume your parents gave you a name as "Lovely" when you were born. How would you introduce yourself when you meet someone?

  • Hello, I am Lovely. (sounds so narcissistic)
  • Hello, my name is Lovely. (sounds like boasting of her name)

It is a very awkward situation, isn't it? If you remember this specific situation, you will never be confused about -이다 and -하다. The fundamental problem is that you can't specify the grammatical role of "lovely". Your name is supposed to be a noun but it sounds like an adjective due to the same pronunciation. Languages around the world have various solutions to avoid this kind of problem. English has solved this kind of problem with extensive use of articles. If you put an article like a/an/the, you can make clear that "Lovely" is a noun. However, In this specific situation, unfortunately you can't put any article. I wanted to show what happens when you can't use articles in English. Now you would understand why English speakers are obsessed with correct use of grammatical articles.
Korean has a different solution without using articles.

  • 안녕, 나는 Lovely야. (Hello, I am Lovely.) : (-야 explicitly indicates that "Lovely" is a noun. -야 is conjugated from -이다. -입니다, -예요/-이에요 are also possible)
  • 안녕, 나는 lovely해. (Hello, I am lovely.) : (-해 explicitly indicates that "lovely" is an adjective. -해 is conjugated from -하다. -합니다, -해요 are also possible)

As you see, the grammar has eliminated the ambiguity, so there is no such an awkward situation in Korean. Instead, there is another problem in Korean. I've already said that there are two different kinds of 하다s in Korean; 하다 for verbs and 하다 for adjectives. Here they go again. In the example above, -해 could be either a verb or an adjective. In the casual speech styles, the grammar is simplified, and the same spelling is used for both of them. Let's make it more clear by using a different speech style.

  • 안녕, 나는 Lovely이다. (Hello, I am Lovely.) : ("Lovely" is a noun. -이다 can be shortened to -다 when the noun doesn't have an ending consonant.)
  • 안녕, 나는 lovely하다. (Hello, I am lovely.) : ("lovely" is an adjective)
  • 안녕, 나는 Lovely한다. (Hello, I do the thing "Lovely".) : ("Lovely" can be anything you can do. for example, it could be a name of a video game.)

All the examples are the present tense. (-이다 the copula for nouns, and adjectives, don't add -ㄴ/는 for the present tense in this speech style. Only verbs do.)

이 Passive Verbs (Most verbs in this category end in ㅎ or a vowel)
Active verb Passive verb Examples
놓다 (to lay, to put, to build) 놓이다 (to be on, to be placed, to be built)
  • Active: 식탁에 그릇들을 놓았다 (I put dishes on the table).
  • Passive: 식탁에 그릇들이 놓였다 (Dishes were put on the table).
바꾸다 (to change) 바뀌다 (to be changed)
  • Active: 결정을 바꾸었다 (I changed the decision).
  • Passive: 결정이 바뀌었다 (The decision was changed).
보다 (to see) 보이다 (to be seen)
  • Active: 나는 그 외계인을 보았다 (I saw the alien).
  • Passive: 그 외계인이 보였다. (The alien was seen (to me)).
쓰다 (to use, to write) 쓰이다 (to be used, to be written)
  • Active:그 책은 내 친구가 썼다 (My friend wrote that book).
  • Passive:그 책은 내 친구에 의해 쓰였다 (That book was written by my friend).
쌓다 (to pile up, to stack) 쌓이다 (to be piled up, to be stacked up)
  • Active: 상자를 쌓았다 (I stacked boxes up).
  • Passive: 상자가 쌓였다 (Boxes were stacked up).
차다 - to dump someone 차이다 - to be dumped
  • Active: 내가 여자친구를 찼다 (I dumped my girlfriend).
  • Passive: 내 여자친구가 나에게 차였다 (My girlfriend was dumped by me).
히 Passive Verbs (Most verbs in this category end in a ㅂ,ㅈ,ㄷ or ㄱ)
Active verb Passive verb Examples
꽂다 (to put in, to stick in) 꽂히다 (to be stuck in)
  • Active: 꽃을 꽃병에 꽂았다 (I put flowers in a vase).
  • Passive: 꽃이 꽃병에 꽂혔다 (Flowers were put in a vase).
닫다 (to close, to shut) 닫히다 (to be closed, to be shut)
  • Active: 문을 닫았다 (I closed the door).
  • Passive: 문이 닫혔다 (The door was closed).
읽다 (to read) 읽히다 (to be read)
  • Active:책을 읽었다 (I read a book).
  • Passive: 책이 읽혔다 (The book was read by someone).
막다 (to block, to clog) 막히다 (to be blocked, to be conjested, to be clogged up)
  • Active: 입구를 막았다 (I blocked the entrance).
  • Passive: 입구가 막혔다 (The entrance was blocked).
먹다 (to eat) 먹히다 (to be eaten)
  • Active: 빵을 먹는다 (I eat bread).
  • Passive: 빵이 먹혔다 (The bread was eaten).
묻다 (to bury) 묻히다 (to be buried)
  • Active: 땅에 관을 묻었다 (I buried the coffin under the ground).
  • Passive: 땅에 관이 묻혔다 (The coffin was buried under the ground).
뽑다 (to pluck, to pull off) 뽑히다 (to be plucked, to be pulled off)
  • Active: 잡초를 뽑는다 (I pluck the weeds out).
  • Passive: 잡초가 뽑혔다 (The weeds were plucked out).
잡다 (to catch) 잡히다 (to be caught)
  • Active: 경찰이 범죄자를 잡았다 (the police caught the criminal).
  • Passive: 범죄자가 경찰에게 잡혔다 (the criminal was caught by the police).
리 Passive Verbs (Most verbs in this category are irregular ㄷ verbs or end with ㄹ)
Active verb Passive verb Examples
걸다 (to hang) 걸리다 (to be hung)
  • Active: 그림을 벽에 걸었다 (I hung a picture on the wall).
  • Passive: 그림이 벽에 걸렸다 (The picture was hung on the wall).
듣다 (to hear) 들리다 (to be heard)
  • Active:노래를 들었다 (I heard the song).
  • Passive: 노래가 들렸다 (The song was heard).
물다 (to bite) 물리다 (to be bitten)
  • Active: 개가 나를 물었다 (the dog bit me).
  • Passive: 나는 개한테 물렸다 (I was bitten by the dog).
열다 (to open) 열리다 (to be open)
  • Active:창문을 열었다 (I open the window).
  • Passive: 창문이 열렸다 (The window was open).
팔다 (to sell) 팔리다 (to be sold)
  • Active:나는 장난감을 판다 (I sell the toys).
  • Passive: 장난감이 팔렸다 (The toys were sold).
풀다 (to untie, to solve) 풀리다 (to get untied, to be solved )
  • Active:문제를 풀었다 (I solve the problem).
  • Passive: 문제가 풀렸다 (The problem was solved).
자르다 (to cut) 잘리다 (to be cut)
  • Active:종이를 잘랐다 (I cut the paper).
  • Passive: 종이가 잘렸다 (The paper was cut).
기 Passive Verbs (Most verbs in this category end with ㄴ (ㄶ), ㅅ and ㅁ)
Active verb Passive verb Examples
끊다 (to cut off, to sever) 끊기다 (to be cut off, to be severed)
  • Active: 줄을 끊었다 (I cut the rope).
  • Passive: 줄이 끊겼다 (The rope was cut).
빼앗다 (to take, to steal) 빼앗기다 (to be taken, to be stolen)
  • Active: 돈을 빼앗았다 (I stole someone's money).
  • Passive: 돈을 빼앗겼다 (My money was stolen by someone).
안다 (to hold, to embrace) 안기다 (to be held, to be embraced)
  • Active: 아기를 품에 안았다 (I held baby in my arms).
  • Passive: 아기가 품에 안겼다 (The baby is in my arms).
쫓다 (to chase) 쫓기다 (to be chased)
  • Active:경찰이 도둑을 쫓는다 (A policeman chases robbery).
  • Passive: 도둑이 경찰에 쫓긴다(A robbery is chased by policeman).
잠그다 (to lock) 잠기다 (to be locked)
  • Active:문을 잠갔다(잠그었다) (I locked the door). ☞ 잠그었다 is commonly contracted to 잠궜다 but this is grammatically incorrect. 잠그다 follows the 으 irregular conjugation rule so the correct contracted form is 잠갔다. (잠그었다 → 잠ㄱ었다 → 잠ㄱ았다 → 잠갔다)
  • Passive: 문이 잠겼다(잠기었다) (The door was locked). ☞ Strictly speaking, 잠기다 is actually a 이 passive verb. (잠그다 + 이 → 잠그이다 → 잠ㄱ이다 → 잠기다).

See also