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  5. "집은 비어 있습니까?"

"집은 비어 있습니까?"

Translation:Is the house empty?

September 16, 2017



You could interpret this as “is the house being empty?”

The emptiness of the house here is a continuous state.


Why is the continuous state used for "empty"? What would be the meaning of "집은 비어요"?


Adding 있다 is much more specific for something that is currently happening at the moment of discussion. For this example it doesn't make tons of sense as the state of a house's emptiness is not very fluid. But it's the difference between "I eat meat" vs. "I am eating meat," "the house is empty" vs. "the house is empty [right now, ongoing]"


The other comments have bits and pieces. 비어요 is the polite conjugation of the verb 비다, which is a passive verb meaning "to be empty". This verb is the action of the subject's state changing to "empty".

The continuous form used here is the 아/어 있다 construction, which is used to say that the action was performed and the state is maintained. So "비어 있다" translates to "to be emptied (and continue to be so)".

So while "집은 비어요" and "집은 비어 있어요" can both translate to "The house is empty.", a closer translation would be:

  • 집은 비어요 = "The house is empty/emptied."
  • 집은 비어 있어요 = "The house has been emptied (and continues to be empty)."


Maybe it is the difference between a house being empty because no one lives there and a house being empty because no one is there currently?

The former is something the house is, a description of it, whereas the latter is something that the house is right now so, something that it is doing... even though it isn't the house's choice.

It sort of makes sense to me but correct me if I am wrong!


Is 비어 a word? Why is there no 고?


My guess is that 비고 있어요 would mean "is being emptied" while 비어 있어요 means "is ['continuously'] empty." This guess is based on the tips and notes for this lesson:

"Stative verbs like 앉다 or 서다 take the continuous differently. Of course, it is possible to say 앉고 있어요, although this would translate more closely to "I am being seated" than "I am sitting."

To truly say "I am sitting" you would say 저는 앉아 있어요.

The rule here s to take the Casual form and add 있어요. In grammar books this may be written as 아/어 있다."

But if a native Korean speaker could confirm or correct, that would be much appreciated.


I am not a native, but apparently 비고 있어요 does not exist, at least in this sense of the word. Is being emptied appears to be 비우고 있어요. Is in the state of having been emptied would then be 비워 있어요. 비우다 is the active form, 비다 is the stative. I am left doubting that 앉다 and 서다 are solely stative verbs as they are not limited to this grammatical pattern.


비고 있다 is a valid construction. So is 비우고 있다. The difference lies in the grammatical voice of the two verbs. The former is constructed with the passive verb 비다 ("to be empty") and only requires a subject whose state is changing to "empty." The latter is constructed with the causative verb 비우다 ("to empty") and requires a subject to empty the object. The causative form is an active verb, derived from the passive form. Here are two example sentences:

  • 집은 (그에게) 비고 있어요 = "The house is being emptied (by him)."
  • 그는 집을 비우고 있어요 = "He is emptying the house."

The type of action a verb describes, whether it be dynamic action (DLG: "active") or stative action (DLG: "stative"), does not determine which continuous grammar is valid. For example, verbs that describe position (앉다, 서다) or changes in states (끓다, 피다) can form with both. Here are some more example sentences:

  • 집은 비어요 = "The house is empty." (There is nothing inside the house.)
  • 집은 비고 있어요 = "The house is being emptied." (Someone is removing things from inside the house.)
  • 집은 비어 있어요 = "The house has been emptied." (Everything has been removed inside the house and it is currently empty.)
  • 그는 집을 비워요 = "He empties the house."
  • 그는 집을 비우고 있어요 = "He is emptying the house."
  • 그는 집을 비워 있어요 = "He has emptied the house."


I think I've heard someone say 비고 있어요 while watching k-dramas though... Are you sure? (just curious) I don't mean to offend you or anything.. But if it felt that way, I'm sorry:)


The construction ~아/어 있다 is used to describe the continuous existence in a particular state. Roughly put, the construction puts the state change caused by the action into perfect progressive tense: "The cup has been filled." (The cup was filled and continues to be full.).


비다 - empty, an adjective
Edit: nevermind, it seems that it, quite surprisingly, is a verb.


Why surprisingly? Aren't all adjectives in Korean either modifier forms of verbs, or adverb forms of verbs (that get translated into equivalent adjectives in English)?


It may be surprising because 비다 is a passive verb. Korean sentences with passive verbs are often translated into English sentences in passive voice, which treats English verbs like English adjectives. (Consider "to empty" vs. "to be empty/emptied".)

DLG and many other English-centric resources use the term 'descriptive verb' or "stative verb" to refer to the Korean part-of-speech 형용사 ("adjective"). This can be misleading because there are words which describe the state of a subject but are grammatically Korean verbs. Similarly there are 하다 words that look like "dynamic verbs" that are grammatically Korean adjectives. Korean adjectives are similar to Korean verbs in that they are predicates: they complete sentences (specifically by describing the state or quality of the subject). However they have separate conjugations, modifier forms, and grammatical structures than Korean verbs.


Why it's 비어 and not 벼?


Either is fine. 벼 is a contraction of 비어.



  • The verb 비다 is passive, describing the state of its subject and means "to be empty".
  • Both ~고 있다 and ~아/어 있다 are used to form continuous tense.
  • The ~고 있다 construction is used to form active continuous tense, describing the action that is currently being done.
    • This is similar to simple progressive tense in English like in "It is [VERB]ing." or "It is being [VERB]ed."
  • The ~아/어 있다 construction is used to form stative continuous tense, where a result or state is continued after an action has been completed.
    • This is similar to perfect progressive tense in English like in "It has been [VERB]ed."

The Verb 비다

The intransitive passive verb 비다 means "to be empty." This verb takes no object and acts upon the subject by an unidentified force.

집은 비어요 = "The house is empty." or "The house is emptied."

Active vs. Passive Forms

By default, we discuss verbs as actions done by the subject of the sentence. In English, we call this the active voice. However verbs can also be said with a passive voice, where the action is done to the subject of the sentence. In English, sentences in passive voice is formed by combining the past tense verb with "be". For example: "Gimbap is eaten." In Korean, the passive form is created by appending a suffix to the verb stem, forming a derived verb.

  • (나는) 김밥을 먹어요 = "(I) eat gimbap."
  • 김밥이 (나에게) 먹이어요 = "Gimbap is eaten (by me)."

Active vs. Stative Continuous Tense

Continuous (progressive) tense in Korean is formed through one of many grammatical constructions. The two addressed in this lesson are ~고 있다 and ~아/어 있다. Be warned: tense and voice do not line up perfectly between Korean and English, so many sentences in Korean are constructed differently in English, and vice versa.

The former ~고 있다 can be regarded as an active progressive construction, describing the action that is currently being performed. This is similar to simple progressive tense in English like in "It is [VERB]ing." or "It is being [VERB]ed." The latter can be regarded as a stative progressive construction, describing the continued state that resulted after the action was completed. This is similar perfect progressive tense in English like in "It has been [VERB]ed."

You may notice that the active construction readily combines with active verbs and the stative construction with passive verbs. However this tendency is not restrictive: one or both constructions can be valid for a verb, regardless of voice. For example, active verbs that indicate a change in position (앉다, 일어나다, 서다, etc.) or passive verbs that indicate a change in state (비다) can have both active and stative constructions.

Here are some sentences:

  • 나는 김밥을 먹어요 = "I eat gimbap."
  • 나는 김밥을 먹고 있어요 = "I am eating gimbap."
  • 학생은 앉아요 = "The students sit."
  • 학생은 앉고 있어요 = "The students are sitting down." (They are changing positions from standing to sitting.)
  • 학생은 앉아 있어요 = "The students are seated." (They are in a sitting state/position.)
  • 집은 비어요 = "The house is empty/emptied." (There is nothing inside the house.)
  • 집은 비고 있어요 = "The house is being emptied." (Someone is removing things from inside the house.)
  • 집은 비어 있어요 = "The house has been emptied." (Everything has been removed inside the house and it is currently empty.)


thank you so much for this explanation!


thanks for the explanation


Why is 집이 wrong?


it was better if duo didn't get wrong of is empity the house

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