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하다 vs 되다 | Active & Passive Verbs In Korean



You've probably seen 하다 & 되다 floating around. Sometimes a verb has 하다 & sometimes it has 되다. We know that 되다 means "to become", but something just isn't adding up. Let's get into it!

Sources: this information came from the HowtostudyKorean website. I merely summarized it and made it a bit easier to understand. For an even more detailed & in-depth explanation visit their site.

I wrote the main points that you should know:


  1. Clauses ending in a passive verb can never have a word with an object marker (를/을) within the clause.

  2. Passive verbs are conjugated just like active verbs, even though they feel like adjectives

  3. Though clauses ending in a passive verb cannot have an object in the clause, other particles can be attached to nouns to indicate how the passive action occurred. These particles are usually:

    1. – to indicate that something occurred due to a non-person

    2. 에게 – to indicate that something occurred due to a person

    3. ~(으)로 – to indicate the tool/method by which something occurred



An active verb is used when a subject does an action.


For example:

In the examples below, the subject is “I”


I eat

I learn

I open


Active verbs often act on an object.


The word “object” here refers to the part of speech that a verb can act on. Sometimes learners get confused and think that an object means “a thing,” for example; “a pencil” or “a door.” In theory, any noun can be an object of a sentence – including people or abstract ideas that are not considered “objects” in the literal (non-language) sense.


For example:

I love my father

He wants respect

I eat rice

I learn Korean

I open the door


Passive sentences indicate that an action is performed on the subject.


For example:

I was kicked

The door was opened

The hamburger was eaten


Let’s look at an active verb and passive verb being used in similar sentences:


1) I opened the door (active)

2) The door was opened (passive)


I turn the computer on (active)

The computer is turned on (passive)

I lock the door (active)

The door is locked (passive)

I respect my friend (active)

My friend is respected (passive)

I cooked the rice (active)

The rice is cooked (passive)


Passive verbs (like adjectives) cannot act on an object.


However, sentences with passive verbs can include more information to indicate by whom (or by what) the action was performed.


For example:

The door was opened by me

The door was opened by the wind

The door was opened by the guard

The computer was turned on by me

The door was locked by the teacher

My friend is respected by many people

The rice was cooked by my mother


Because passive verbs cannot act on an object, you will never see ~을/를 in a sentence predicated by a passive verb in Korean. Remember, ~을/를 is used to mark objects in Korean sentences – and therefore their usage is impossible with passive verbs.


It is usually unnatural to use passive verbs in Korean. In almost every situation, it is more natural to use the active form of a verb. For example, instead of saying “the house is built” it is more natural to say “somebody built the house” (which implies that the house is now built).


When dealing with 하다 verbs, most of the time you can simply exchange 하다 with 되다, to make that verb passive.


For example:

포함하다 = to include

포함되다 = to be included

제공하다 = to provide

제공되다 = to be provided

대체하다 = to replace

대체되다 = to be replaced

준비하다 = to prepare

준비되다 = to be prepared


저는 점심을 준비했어요

= I prepared (the) lunch


점심이 준비되었어요

= (The) lunch was prepared


The particle ~ can be used when this part of a sentence is a non-person.


For example:

점심이 학교에 준비되었어요

= The lunch was provided by the school


Sidenote: Korean people don’t use passive verbs as much as they use active verbs, so keep that in mind.


With that being said, I hope this post has helped you understand passive and active verbs a little better. Leave a comment or message me if you have a question - I'll do my best to answer it.


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