-지 않다 or 안 ~ to not do X

There are two different ways to say that something did not happen in Korean. We’ll take them one by one.

When the subject of the sentence is a human, this grammatical principle carries a bit of a connotation that it is on purpose or by choice that they are not doing something. This is most often the case in English as well, but we’re a little looser with it.

For example, if you were to tell your friend “I didn’t watch Hospital Playlist last night.” the reason is wide open. Maybe something else came up, so you couldn’t. Maybe your internet sucked and you couldn’t get on Netflix. But in Korean, if you were to express that you didn’t do something because something prevented you from doing it, you’d used a separate grammatical principle that I’ll cover in a separate lesson. If you say “I didn’t watch Hospital Playlist last night”, 9 times out of 10 it means that you chose not to watch it.

-지 않다

This grammatical principle attaches to the root of a verb or adjective. There are no special rules that come into play like with some particles. Whether the root ends in ㅏ or ㅓ, or a consonant or a vowel, just add -지 앟다.

1: Adjectives in Korean include the meaning “to be” so they can be considered descriptive verbs.
2: All verbs and adjectives – without exception – end in 다. Find the root by removing 다.

The 않다 portion of this grammatical principle, though it doesn’t get used on its own, is treated like a verb, so it gets conjugated into the present, past, or future just like all other verbs.


Intro: Persona:
But 부끄럽지 않아. 이게 내 영혼의 지도. ~ “But I’m not ashamed. This is the map of my soul.”
Original adjective: 부끄럽다 – to be ashamed, embarrassed

Make It Right:
끝도 보이지 않던 영원의 밤 ~ “In this eternal night with not an end in sight…”
Original verb: 보이다 – to be seen, to be visible

Black Swan:
절대 끌려가지 않을 거야 다시 또 ~ “I will never be dragged away again.”
Original verb: 글려가다 (글리다 + 가다) – to be dragged away

미치지 않으려면 미쳐야 해. ~ “If you don’t want to go crazy, you have to go crazy.”
Original adjective: 미치다 – to be crazy

WINTER FLOWER (Feat.RM) (by Younha):
네 온기 잊지 않아 ~ “I haven’t forgotten your warmth.”
Literal translation: “I don’t forget your warmth.”
Original verb: 잊다 – to forget

안 __

The meaning is exactly the same as 지 않다. All you do is add 안 before the verb or adjective, and then conjugate the verb/adjective as normal.


I talked a bunch about 하다 and 되다 verbs in this lesson. Such verbs (and adjectives) are made up of a noun + 하다 (to do) or 되다 (to become).

When you want to create a negative sentence with such words, it’s common to split the word in half, add the object marking particle 을/를 to the noun and place 안 between the noun and the 하다 or 되다 verb. This does not change the meaning at all, and both ways are equally acceptable. Additionally, the object marking particle often gets dropped.

For example:
걱정하다 = to worry. 걱정 = a worry, or the act of worrying. 하다 = to do.
Three acceptable ways to say “I don’t worry.” or “I’m not worried.”
1. 나는 안 걱정해.
2. 나는 걱정을 안 해.
3 나는 걱정 안 해.


쉽겐 말 안 할래. ~ “I won’t say it so lightly.”
Original verb: 말하다 – to say, to speak

감 닿는 대로, 날 안 잡는 대로. ~ “…following my feelings, without taking hold of myself.”
Original verb: 잡다 – to grab, to hold

Trivia 轉 : Seesaw:
서롤 생각 안 했다면 ~ “If we weren’t thinking about each other…”
Original verb: 생각하다 – to think

BTS Cypher 4:
이젠 니가 안 미워. ~ I don’t hate you anymore.
Original verb: 밉다 – to hate

I Need You:
왜 말을 안 듣냐고? ~ “Why don’t you listen to me?”
Original verb: 듣다 – to listen, to hear

to not do X Korean grammar