[Review] TTMIK’s The Korean Verbs Guide Vol 1 & 2

29 December, 2017

Verbs Guide. Vocabulary Guide.


As much as I love the TTMIK team and the work they do, this is probably one of my least favourite books amongst their amazing collection. Not that it’s bad, I must say. It’s just that I don’t quite agree with the whole idea behind a foreign language verbs guide / vocabulary guide.

   Before I go into the review proper, here’s my two-cents on such guides in general. Verbs and vocabulary are meant to be learnt in context and I am a firm believer that word lists and verb lists (no matter how well curated they are) simply don’t work. It’s like asking someone to learn a language via a dictionary. Technically, it’s a superb and rich source of info: words, pronunciation, meaning, sample sentences etc. But it just doesn’t work.

Even as a secondary resource (not the book you used to learn verbs for the first time), I have my doubts about how it can be used effectively. I don’t see myself reading it from cover to cover and if I need the meaning / sample sentences (which is what verb guides in general provide), I can go to a online dictionary for the same purpose. So why would I spend extra money on a book?

As such, I still maintained my views that TTMIK’s The Korean Verbs Guide is not one of my favourite books. Then again, I must still applaud the team for differentiating it from a typical verbs guide.

General Rules of Verbs Conjugation

I liked the fact there’s a dedicated portion on verb conjugation rules at the start and the various conjugation forms: tenses, imperative, modifier etc are introduced. It’s a good summary and useful for those who are still grappling with the various types of conjugations in the Korean language. It’s also cool that all the conjugation rules are consistently emphasised upon throughout the whole book as each verb is first introduced in its various conjugation forms.

The structure of the book is very neat. Each verb is introduced with its meaning, a page dedicated to conjugation of the particular verb, followed by a page on sample sentences and a short quiz.

Sample Sentences and Quiz

If there’s something I liked a lot about the book, it would be audio is included for sample sentences. That’s something that online dictionaries do not offer in general. Each sample sentence is read in normal and then slow speed. I appreciated the normal speed one, but I find that the slow speed one is less useful as the speaker breaks it down into several parts and by delivering the sentence in parts, the intonation and flow is somewhat less natural. I would much prefer a slow speed version where the intonation and flow is still intact.

The short quiz is also a good addition to the guide. It tests your conjugation skills and the answers are also on the same page (upside down), making it easy to check your answers instead of having to flip through the pages.

Overall, I thought that it was a decent book (for those who find such guides useful) and if you are like me (and don’t believe in such guides), I thought that it could still be useful if you feel that you need a guide on conjugations and if you like listening practices in short sentences.


Alternatively, get the e-book version.

    1. I also don’t like this kind of book because just like you I prefer to learn a word in a context. Having said that I owned 2 vocabulary books in Intermediate and Advanced level which I find difficult to remember eventhough there’s example sentence for each word because the word is not part of a context. Haha..Anyway, I’ll just use it as a supplement.

    1. Possibly not so useful for full on hard working students. But for the rest of us, this would be a good reference book as checking the conjugations can be a problem… I’m likely to pick this up solely to use as a reference for writing, not that I do much writing but I know I should.
      There is a difference between the full-time (5+ hours a week) and those of us who do less. We forget more because we do less…
      Thanks for the review 🙂

    1. I agree that I never had much use of lists of vocabulary to learn new items. I mostly used them to check if I knew all the vocabulary that is required to reach a certain TOPIK level. For learning vocabulary, context really helps. Even though in my case, it helped that I already learned a lot of vocabulary out of context using spaced repetition tools such as Memrise. When later I then see them in context I get a lot of aha moments and they switch from my passive to active memory.

      FYI, a good book that changed a bit some of my ideas about vocabulary learning is this fairly old (but still relevant) one: https://myjourneytokoreanfluency.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/086-vocabulary-myths-applying-second-language-research-to-classroom-teaching-book-review/

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