Understanding Korean Grammar: -아/어 두다

Introduction: Korean Grammar ‘-아/어 두다’

Learning Korean grammar can be challenging, but breaking it down into manageable lessons can make it easier. Today, we will explore the grammar pattern ‘-아/어 두다,’ which is used to indicate that an action has been completed and left in a maintained state. This lesson will help you understand and use this form effectively.

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jaem grammar lesson 8_-아/어 두다

Grammar Explanation

The grammar pattern ‘-아/어 두다’ is used to express that an action has been completed and is left in a maintained state, similar to “do something and keep it that way” in English. The ending depends on the vowel in the verb stem.


  • If the stem has a bright vowel (ㅏ or ㅗ), add ‘-아 두다.’
  • If the stem has a dark vowel (any other vowel), add ‘-어 두다.’
  • If the verb stem ends in 하다, it changes to 해 두다.
VerbStemFormExample Sentence
열다 (to open)열어 두다문을 열어 두었어요 (I opened the door and kept it open)
두다 (to place)두어 두다책을 책상 위에 두어 두었어요 (I placed the book on the desk and kept it there)
하다 (to do)해 두다일을 다 해 두었어요 (I finished the work and kept it done)


Verb Examples:

  • 닫다 (to close)
    • 닫아 두다 = To close and keep it that way
    • 창문을 닫아 두었어요 = I closed the window and kept it closed.
  • 쓰다 (to write)
    • 써 두다 = To write and keep it that way
    • 편지를 써 두었어요 = I wrote the letter and kept it written.
  • 만들다 (to make)
    • 만들어 두다 = To make and keep it that way
    • 저녁을 만들어 두었어요 = I made dinner and kept it ready.
  • 청소하다 (to clean)
    • 청소해 두다 = To clean and keep it that way
    • 방을 청소해 두었어요 = I cleaned the room and kept it clean.

Additional Examples:

  • 열다 (to open)
    • 열어 두다 = To open and keep it that way
    • 문을 열어 두었어요 = I opened the door and kept it open.
  • 준비하다 (to prepare)
    • 준비해 두다 = To prepare and keep it that way
    • 회의를 준비해 두었어요 = I prepared the meeting and kept it ready.
  • 설거지하다 (to do the dishes)
    • 설거지해 두다 = To do the dishes and keep it that way
    • 설거지를 다 해 두었어요 = I did the dishes and kept them clean.
  • 저장하다 (to save/store)
    • 저장해 두다 = To save/store and keep it that way
    • 파일을 저장해 두었어요 = I saved the file and kept it stored.

Usage in Context

When using ‘-아/어 두다’ in different contexts, it emphasizes that the action has been completed and the result is maintained.

Everyday Contexts:

  • 불을 켜 두었어요 = I turned on the light and kept it on.
  • 옷을 준비해 두었어요 = I prepared the clothes and kept them ready.
  • 컴퓨터를 켜 두었어요 = I turned on the computer and kept it on.

Special Occasions:

  • 음식을 미리 만들어 두었어요 = I prepared the food in advance and kept it ready.
  • 숙제를 다 해 두었어요 = I finished my homework and kept it done.
  • 방을 미리 청소해 두었어요 = I cleaned the room in advance and kept it clean.

Cultural Insight: In Korean culture, using ‘-아/어 두다’ emphasizes preparedness and forethought. It is often used to show that one has completed necessary actions in advance and kept things in a state of readiness.

Common Mistakes

Common Mistakes:

  • Incorrect: 열어 두었다 (Incorrect form of past tense)
    • Correct: 열어 두었어요 = I opened it and kept it open.

Mistake Explanation: Ensure that the correct form ‘-아/어 두다’ is used with proper conjugation in context.

Explore these related grammar points to deepen your understanding:

  • -고 있다: To indicate ongoing actions.
  • -아/어 놓다: Similar to ‘-아/어 두다,’ but with a nuance of leaving something in a certain state.
  • -아/어 있다: To express a continuing state.
  • -아/어 보다: To try doing something.

Practice Exercises

Practice Makes Perfect!

  • Exercise 1: Conjugate the following verbs with ‘-아/어 두다.’
    • 열다 (to open)
    • 쓰다 (to write)
    • 준비하다 (to prepare)
    • 정리하다 (to organize)

Answer Key:

  1. 열어 두다
  2. 써 두다
  3. 준비해 두다
  4. 정리해 두다
  • Exercise 2: Create sentences using ‘-아/어 두다’ for the following situations:
    • I cleaned the room and kept it clean.
    • She wrote the notes and kept them written.
    • They prepared the presentation and kept it ready.
    • We turned off the lights and kept them off.

Answer Key:

  1. 방을 청소해 두었어요.
  2. 그녀는 노트를 써 두었어요.
  3. 그들은 발표를 준비해 두었어요.
  4. 우리는 불을 꺼 두었어요.

Summary and Conclusion

Today, we covered the grammar point ‘-아/어 두다’ and how to use it to express completed actions that are left in a maintained state. This pattern is essential for conveying preparedness and maintaining results. Continue practicing with our workbook and check out related lessons for more in-depth learning.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below. Happy learning!

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