We’ve been going over some vocabulary with the help of Hanja, but there are other things to consider when it comes to any language’s vocabulary. One such issue would be the multitude of uses certain verbs have. Think of the English verbs ‘get’, ‘set’, or ‘run’. They have so many different meanings they are a challenge to master. Every language has such verbs and Korean is no exception and the first difficult verb I’m tackling is 나다.

Verb Challenges

If you have learned a second language you know how important verbs are. While the core of a sentence are generally nouns beautified with adjectives. It are the verbs that give the whole thing meaning. Verbs are the engine of your communication skills. However, verbs can be quite tricky. Some of them are irregular and others have a seemingly endless list of potential meanings.

I’ve already dealt with the Korean irregular verb groups. So, now I want to focus on individual verb. I want to talk about the verbs that have an endless amount of meanings. These kind of verbs are so often used due to their many meanings you really need to master them.  If you have listened a Korean conversation you most likely noticed some verbs appear quite often. Sometimes that is simply due to the fact it is part of a grammar pattern to express something such as -ㄴ/은/는 것 같다. However, sometimes it’s just another meaning of that verb.

This new series called “Korean verb Insight” wants t focus on those Korean verbs with an endless list of possible meanings and/or similar Korean verbs that might end up confusing you. Because you simply cannot ignore it. Those verbs are generally used quite often so you simply got to know. We’ll start with a big one: 나다.

The Many of 나다

나다 is one of those verbs that seems to have an unlimited amount of uses. The more Korean you learn the more frequently this little verb appears. However, the main issue with 나다 is that wide range of use. Time to bring some order by going over the uses of 나다. Time to go over a lot of sentences.

This is going to be a work of a long breath as 나다 has plenty of uses. Therefore I will actually limit myself to only 5 uses in this specific post. In the future I’ll write a follow-up article(s) to complete it.

The first example sentence is:

[column size=”one-half”]봄 동안 나무에 싹이 나요.


[column size=”one-half” last=”true”]During the spring buds sprout on the trees.[/column]

As you can see from this first example 나다 can mean as much as ‘To grow’ and ‘To sprout’. This is the case whenever you use it with plant life, but specifically buds. However, just like in English you can also use this with pimples and beards. This 나다 has synonyms: 자라다 (to grow) and 돋아나다 (To sprout).

You can see the second way to use 나다 in this example sentence:

[column size=”one-half”]앞에 사고가 것 같아요.


[column size=”one-half” last=”true”]It seems an accident happened up ahead.[/column]

From this example you can see another use of 나다. Here the verb means as much as ‘To happen’. This use is used with disasters, accidents and other such things. However, it also can be used with the worst of human disasters: war (전쟁). Though when you use it with that specific word the meaning is more ‘To break out’ rather than ‘To happen’.

Next up is the following way to use 나다:

[column size=”one-half”]기차가 늦어서 회사원이 화가 났어요.


[column size=”one-half” last=”true”]The train is late so the officer work is angry.


This example shows a use of a 나다 with nouns such that express thoughts and emotions. The meaning in  these situations is ‘To become’, ‘To occur’, ‘To come to one’s mind’. It is important that you pay attention to the tense when using 나다 with emotions as the meaning changes depending the tense. When you use it in the present tense it means ‘To become [emotion]’, but in the past tense it means as much as ‘To be [emotion]’.

A fourth way to use 나다 is like this:

[column size=”one-half”]동생은 손가락을 칼로 갈라서 지금 피가 많이 나요![/column]

[column size=”one-half” last=”true”]My brother cut his finger with a knife and now he is bleeding!


This is is a more specific use of 나다 where its meaning wholly depends on the nouns you are using it with. The nouns for this use are all bodily fluids such as 피 (blood), 땀 (sweat), 눈물 (tear), etc. If you use 나다 with one of these verbs it can mean as much as ‘To bleed’, ‘To sweat’, ‘To cry’, etc. respectively.

The last use of 나다 I’ll discuss in this post:

[column size=”one-half”]좋은 냄새가  나서 빨리 먹고 싶어요.[/column]

[column size=”one-half” last=”true”]I want to eat quickly because it smells good.


This use of 나다 is tied to things that our senses can pick up such as sound (소리) or smells (냄새). Like the earlier use of the verb, the meaning of this kind of use also depends on the noun it is used with. With 냄새 (smell), it means as much as ‘to smell’ and with 소리 (sound), it can be translated as ‘A sound comes’.

Those were all the 5 uses of the wonderful verb 나다 I wanted to discuss for now. However, 나다 has plenty other uses that I have yet to cover. Do you know a use of 나다 that I haven’t mentioned yet? Let us know in the comments below.

Korean Verb Insight: 나다
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Korean Verb Insight: 나다