Variations of a theme

For a while I’ve noted the similarity of some verbs, but – as usual – attention is key:

놀다: To play, hang out, be idle
놀라다: To be surprised, to be taken aback, to be stunned, frightened
놀래다: To give someone a fright, to scare
놀리다 (1): To leave something idle or make someone play (the 사동사-version of 놀다)
놀리다 (2): To tease, make fun of

Once I had mentally lined them up I just couldn’t unsee them, so I had to share them with you 🙂

Examples of contexts:
놀라다: anyone who has heard Gee by 소녀시대 should recognise it from the refrain. I know it’s catchy – I’m sorry if I’ve unleashed a monster by even bringing it up 😀
놀래다: those who watch 오 나의 귀신님 might have noticed that when 순애 frets over her father in hospital, she uses this verb to say something along the lines of “you gave me such a fright”.
놀리다: a Korean friend was longing for a long weekend and was grumbling a bit about it being Monday morning so I (naturally) sent a super enthusiastic reply to which she replied 나를 놀리고 있어 ㅠㅠ

Without being able to provide an exhaustive list of verbs to prove my claim, in general it seems that when there are two variations of a verb, the “-애 version” implies more action than the “-아 version”. Another example would be 끝나다 vs. 끝내다 where the latter seems to involve more action and willpower.

If anyone can prove me wrong, please let me know 🙂


2 thoughts on “Variations of a theme

  1. 소희

    Great overview! Thanks for sharing. I definitely agree with your observation of -애 being more “active” in terms of making something become something. As for 끝나다/끝내다 I like to think of movies vs. books. A movie can finish on its own, while you actively finish a book. Of course you can say that you finished watching the movie, in which case I would rather say 다 봤어요 🙂


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