A lot of Korean grammar can easily be classified into some sort of sensible groups, but for others that is just impossible. This is generally because their use is very general. One of the those Korean grammar topics is the grammar pattern -(으)ㄴ가요/나요. This very useful verb ending has so many uses, you just cannot put it in a group. Let’s take a look.
In many ways the Korean grammar pattern -(으)ㄴ가요/나요 is somewhat the Korean way of asking a “yes or no” question. I say in many ways as, many other questions asked with this pattern are not yes/no questions. One thing is always true, though, this pattern always indicates a question. When used, you can translate this as “Is/was it..?”, “Are/were you…?”, “Do/did…you?”, etc… Let’s look at an example:
Sentence: 한국 친구가 많은가요?
Translation: Do you have a lot of Korean friends?
Some might end up comparing this pattern to -지요, but these are not the same. As explained -지요 are for the most part tag questions and you generally don’t expect an answer. However, when you use the verb ending -(으)ㄴ가요/나요, the question is not a tag question and you do expect an answer. This is just a polite and gentle way to ask a question.
How To Use
Using the Korean grammar pattern -(으)ㄴ가요/나요 requires a bit getting used to. First you need to know whether you are dealing with a verb or an adjective. In the present tense the form -나요 is used exclusively by verbs and 있다/없다. Let’s check some examples:
- 가다: 가나요
- 먹다: 먹나요
On the other hand adjectives use the form -(으)ㄴ가요 exclusively in the present tense. However, for adjectives it is then also important to look at whether the stem ends in a batchim (final consonant) or not. If it ends in a batchim you use the form -은가요, while you use -ㄴ가요 if it ends in a vowel. Let’s check an examples:
- 싸다: 싼가요
- 많다: 많은가요
In the past tense, however, you use -었나요/았나요/했나요 for both adjectives and verbs. Let’s check an examples:
- 가다: 갔나요
- 많다: 많았나요
Lastly, in the future tense you once again need to check the verb stem for batchim. If the verb stem ends in a batchim this time, you use the ending -을 건가요. However, if it ends in a vowel or ㄹ, you use the ending -ㄹ 건가요. Let’s check an examples:
- 가다: 갈 건가요
- 많다: 많을 건가요
- 살다: 살 건가요
For this verb pattern it is important to keep the irregular verbs in mind. Some of the groups such as the ㅂ irregular verbs like to misbehave.