Language Tips to Help You Remember

Ever since college association has helped me remember things. It worked wonders in my arts history class. And I’ve found it helps me as I learn Korean too. So I thought I’d pass on these tips to you.

The Korean consonants weren’t too hard for me to remember. But the vowels, especially ㅛ(yo) and ㅠ (you), confused me. So I began thinking of them this way:
ㅛ(yo): this character looks like how you’d hold your hand as you said the word, “yo”
ㅠ (you): this character looks like it has two legs, just like “you” do

Corny, I know but it’s worked for me. Yesterday, I was going over conjugating Korean verbs into the past tense and the present tense. (I’m learning this via, which I still feel is one of the best, easiest, and certainly the cheapest, ways to learn Korean.) The endings that you add to make a verb past tense or present tense are similar, and I kept getting them confused. So I turned to association again and came up with this.

So to change a Korean verb from its basic form to its present tense form you add 아요 (ah-yo), 어요 (uh-yo), or 여요 (yeo-yo) to the verb stem (which one of the above you use depends on the last letter in the verb).

And to change a Korean verb from its basic form to its past tense form you add 았어요(ah-sseo-yo), 었어요 (uh-sseo-yo), or 였어요 (yeo-sseo-yo), again depending on the final letter of the verb stem.

My way of remembering which ending is the past tense is to remember that my “past” is longer than my “present,” so the longer ending is the past tense and the shorter is the present. Of course, once I finally move to Level 2 and learn the future tense that might blow this association out of the water, but for now it’s working.

It’s not easy to learn a new language at 40. But it’s not the most difficult thing I’ve ever done either. I’m enjoying the challenge, and little associations like these make it easier on me. Are any of you studying Korean? If so, I’d love to hear what helps you. Also if you’re interested in learning more about the present tense and past tense of Korean verbs, visit and check out Level 1, Lessons 16 and 17.


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