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지 않다 and 안 Difference | A common mistake Korean learners make

안녕하세요 ~ Koreanstudyjunkie here! A commonly asked question is what is the difference between 안 & 지 않다. They both mean the exact same thing... or do they? Read on to find out

The Common MISTAKE

If you’re reading this, I assume you know how to make negative sentences in Korean. The

2 common ways to do that is with -안 & 지 않다. (Not and don't)

안 comes right before the verb, but this a mistake the Korean learners makes when it comes to using this form.

Certain 하다 verbs, like 공부하다 (to study) and 숙제하다 (to do homework).

You’ll see words like this get split into 2 - example 공부를 하다 & 숙제를 하다.

When using 하다 verbs the -안 will come before 하다.


하다 means “to do” and most 하다 verbs are combined with nouns. Which is why they can be split up into 2 parts and become the object in the sentences. So not all 하다 verbs, but when it can split apart and become a noun then it applies to them.

A verb like 피곤하다 wouldn’t fall into this category and therefore 안 would come before it.

There are words that are exceptions to that, just like 피곤하다. Like 좋아하다 & 싫어하다, they can be written as 안 좋아하다 & 안 싫어하다. Some phrases as well can be an exception, because they won’t sound as natural with 안 in the middle of them.


일하다 > 일해요 > 일 안 해요 = do not work

운동하다 > 운동해요 > 운동 안 하요 = do not exercise

수영하다 > 수영해요 > 수영 안 해요 = do not swim

가다 > 가요 > 안 가요 = do not go

마시다 > 마셔요 > 안 마셔요 = do not drink

좋다 > 좋아요 > 안 좋아요 = be not good

What's The Difference Between 안 & 지 않다?

They can be used interchangeably in most situations, but I’ve heard that the longer form,

지 않다 is used more in formal situations and the shorter form 안 is used more in casual situations.


Short: 안 + verb/adjective

Long: verb/adjective + 지 않다

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