There are multiple forms of this grammatical principle. They are all very similar, but vary slightly. I’ll show you all of them. But first, how do we attach this thing?
To attach this particle to a verb or adjective, find the root of the verb/adjective by removing 다 from the end of it, and then just attach 지 onto the end. No special rules depending on consonants, vowels, or anything like that, as is the case with many particles.
Example: “to cry” ~ 울다 – 다 + 지 마 = 울지 마
Here are a few ways you’ll see this grammatical principle “in the wild”:
-지 마 = basic, no-respect-added (add 요 to speak with higher respect)
-지 마라 = same meaning and level of respect as above, just as an alternate ending
-지 마세요 = this is a higher level of respect, and has a slightly softer tone, almost like it includes the word “please”.
-지 말고 … = used in the middle of a sentence to say, “Don’t do X, do Y instead.”
-지 말아줘 = this may not belong in this list, because it’s actually this grammatical principle plus another one, but you’ll see it frequently, so I’ve included it here. It has -아주다 added to it, giving it a translation that’s closer to “as a favour to me, please don’t do X” or “For my sake, please don’t do X”. You can read more about 아주다 here.
-지 마십시오 = this is the absolute highest level of respect you can use. You won’t see it in song lyrics because they’re usually in 반말 (casual language). You also may not see it that often at all, because it would be considered rude to just tell someone older than you, or in a position of authority over you “Don’t do that.” You’d likely find a softer way to ask them to please not do something.
서로 믿어야만 돼. 잊지 마. ~ “We just have to trust each other. Don’t forget.”
Original verb: 잊다 – to forget
부디 존경을 쉽게 말하지 마. ~ “Please don’t say ‘respect’ so easily.”
Original verb: 말하다 – to speak, to say
제발 꿈에서 깨어나지 마. ~ “Please don’t wake up from the dream.”
Original verb: 깨어나다 – to wake up
할 말도 없어. 사과도 하지 마. ~ “I don’t have a thing to say. Don’t even apologize.”
Original verb: 사과하다 – to apologize / 하다 – to do
꿇지 마라. 울지 않아. 손을 들어. ~ “Don’t kneel. We’re not crying. Raise your hands.”
Original verb: 꿇다 – to kneel, to fall to one’s knees
저기 숲으로 가진 말아줘. ~ “Please don’t go into those woods.”
Original verb: 가다 – to go
Hold Me Tight
말하지 마. 떠나지 마. 조용히 나를 안아줘 girl. ~ “Don’t say anything. Don’t leave. Silently hold me, girl.”
Original verbs: 말하다 – to say, to speak & 떠나다 – to leave
Could You Turn Off Your Cellphone
사진 좀 찍지 마라. ~ “Please don’t take pictures.”
Original verb: 찍다 – to take (a picture), to dip something, to stamp something; basically an action that involves making one thing touch something else.
더는 남의 꿈에 갇혀 살지 마. ~ “Don’t live imprisoned in someone else’s dream anymore.”
Original verb: 살다 – to live
No More Dream
제발 강요하진 말아줘. ~ “Please don’t pressure me.”
Original verb: 강요하다 – to pressure, to coerce, to force
떨지 말고 내 손을 잡아. ~ “Don’t tremble, but take my hand.”
Original verb: 떨다 – to tremble, to shake