~적 is a common suffix that can be added after some nouns of Chinese origin (적 (的) is of Chinese origin). At first, there is no way to anticipate or expect which nouns this can be added to. As you progress through your Korean studies, you can sort of start anticipating this, but still, the only real way of knowing if ~적 can be added to a particular noun is if you have specifically learned that it can. The goal of this lesson isn’t to teach you all of the words that ~적 can be attached to (that would take forever). Rather, the goal of this lesson is to show you how you can recognize and use these words when you come across them.

Adding ~적 to a noun changes it into a descriptive word that has the meaning of “relating to, or having the properties of’ the original noun. For example:

문화 = culture
문화적 = relating to, or having the properties of culture

경제 = economy
경제적 = relating to, or having the properties of economy

역사 = history
역사적 = relating to, or having the properties of history

However, the translations above are nonsense and a more accurate way to translate words with ~적 is to add “-al” to the English word. For example:

문화 = culture
문화적 = cultural

경제 = economy
경제적 = economical

역사 = history
역사적 = historical

Adding “-al” doesn’t always work with the English word, though. For example:

과학 = science
과학적 = relating to, or having the properties of science
과학적 = scientific

충동 = impulse/shock
충동적 = relating to, or having the properties of impulse
충동적 = impulsive