To Be Good At Something In Korean / Bad At Something

/ / To Be Good At Something In Korean / Bad At Something
to be good at something in Korean

In this lesson, you will how to say that you are good at something or bad at something in Korean. Previously, you learned how to talk about your abilities using can and can’t in Korean. This lesson will also help you to talk about your abilities, but this time in terms of how well you can do something.

To Be Good At Something In Korean

잘하다 [jal-ha-da]

To say that you are good at something in Korean, you use the word 잘하다 [jal-ha-da]. 잘하다 comes from the words [jal], which means ‘well’, and 하다 [ha-da], which means ‘to do’. So, 잘하다 means ‘to do something well’ or ‘to be good at something’. To make sentences with 잘하다 you can use the following structure:

Object + object marking particle 을/를 + 잘하다

For example, ‘to be good at cooking’ in Korean is 요리를 잘하다 [yo-ri-reul jal-ha-da]. In this sentence, the object (the thing that you are good at doing) is the noun 요리 (cooking). As 요리 is the object of the sentence and ends in a vowel, we must mark it with the object marking particle . Then we simply add 잘하다 to make the sentence 요리를 잘하다 (to be good at cooking).

To Be Bad At Something In Korean

못하다 [mot-ha-da]

To say you are bad at something, or poor at something, we use 못하다 [mo-ta-da]. 못하다 means ‘to be incapable of’ and comes from the words [mot], which means ‘not’, and 하다 [ha-da], which means ‘to do’. To make a sentence with 못하다 you can use the following structure:

Object + object marking particle 을/를 + 못하다

For example, ‘to be not good at cooking’ in Korean is 요리를 못하다 [yo-ri-reul mo-ta-da]. Again, 요리 is the object of the sentence (the thing that you are not good at). 요리 ends in a vowel so we must mark it with the object marking particle . Then we add 못하다 to make the sentence 요리를 못하다 (to be not good at cooking).

잘 못하다 [jal mo-ta-da]

Another way to say that you are not good at doing something is to use 잘 못하다 [jal mo-ta-da]. 잘 못하다 sounds a little softer compared to 못하다. As you can see, 잘 못하다 includes the word (well) followed by 못하다 (to be bad at something). So, 잘 못하다 means ‘cannot do something well’ or ‘not good at something’. To make a sentence with 잘 못하다 you can use the same structure as was mentioned previously.

Object + object marking particle 을/를 + 잘 못하다

For example, 요리를 잘 못하다 [yo-ri-reul jal mo-ta-da] means ‘to be not good at cooking’.

Example Sentences

EnglishKoreanListen
I am good at Korean.한국어를 잘해요.
I am bad at Korean.한국어를 못해요.
I am not good at Korean.한국어를 잘 못해요.
I am good at swimming.수영을 잘해요.
I am bad at swimming.수영을 못해요.
I am not good at swimming.수영을 잘 못해요.
I am good at driving.운전을 잘해요.
I am bad at driving.운전을 못해요.
I am not good at driving.운전을 잘 못해요.

Other Verbs

The examples used so far have all been related to ~하다 verbs (i.e verbs made up of a noun, such as 요리 [cook] followed by 하다 [to do] = 요리하다 [to cook]). As you learned, with ~하다 verbs you add , , or 잘 못 after the noun and in front of 하다 (e.g 요리를하다 / 요리를하다 / 요리를 잘 못하다).

, , and 잘 못 can also be used with other action verbs which don’t end in 하다. For these other types of verbs, you also just add , , or 잘 못 in front of the verb. Let’s look at an example.

한글을 읽다 = to read Hangeul
한글을 잘 읽다 = to read Hangeul well
저는 한글을 잘 읽어요. = I read Hangeul well.
저는 한글을 잘 읽을 수 있어요.= I can read Hangeul well.

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