Skip to main content

Interesting Korean Grammar (really!)

I think one of the hardest things about Korean (or any language, for that matter) is learning the subtle nuances and differences between grammatical constructions. Typically, when you're learning a new language, you start with super easy, often present tense constructions.

We eat food? You go store? I happy.

Then you start to learn how to form proper sentences, and learn various tenses:

I'm eating food now. She went to the store. I'm happy.

For most people, language learning never goes beyond the point of simple sentence construction. But for Korean especially, there are an incredible number of nuances in sentence endings and conjugational forms, and most foreigners either don't use them or use them incorrectly (myself included). Korean is a very indirect language, like Japanese, so simply stating what you think often makes you come across as rude. As a result, there are tons of ways to form "simple" sentences in Korean, all with different nuances. It's confusing for non-native speakers to know the differences. What follows is the same sentence, just with different verb endings, along with the approximate translations in English. Without further ado, I present, via dialogue, a "Story about Samgyetang" (chicken ginseng soup)!

A: 삼계탕 먹고싶었어? Did you want to eat chicken ginseng soup?
B: 삼계탕 먹고싶었는데. Well, I wanted to eat chicken ginseng soup, but ....
A: 삼계탕 먹고싶었지? You wanted to eat chicken ginseng soup, didn't you?
B: 삼계탕 먹고싶었잖아! You know I wanted to eat chicken ginseng soup!
A: 삼계탕 먹고싶었다고? You said you wanted to eat chicken ginseng soup?

Hopefully this helps illustrate some common verb endings in Korea. Note that some of these actually have additional meanings (especially 는데). Enjoy!


Popular posts from this blog

영어가 모국어인 사람들은 왜 한국어를 배우기가 어려운 이유

이 포스트는 내 처음 한국어로 블로그 포스트인데, 한국어에 대하니까 잘 어울린다. =) 자, 시작합시다! 왜 외국사람에게 한국어를 배우기가 어렵다? 난 한국어를 배우고 있는 사람이라서 이 문제에 대해 많이 생각하고 있었다. 여러가지 이유가 있는데 오늘 몇 이유만 논할 것이다. 1. 분명히 한국어 문법은 영어에 비해 너무 많이 다른다. 영어는 “오른쪽으로 분지(分枝)의 언어"라고 하는데 한국어는 “왼쪽으로 분지의 언어"이다. 뜻이 무엇이나요? 예를 보면 이해할 수 있을 것이다. 간단한 문장만 말하면 (외국어를 말하는 남들은 간단한 문장의 수준을 지낼 수가 약간 드물다), 간단한 걸 기억해야 돼: 영어는 “SVO”인데 한국어는 “SOV”이다. “I’m going to school”라고 한국어로는 “저는 학교에 가요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I’m school to go”이다. 두 언어 다르는 게 목적어와 동사의 곳을 교환해야 한다. 별로 어렵지 않다. 하지만, 조금 더 어렵게 만들자. “I went to the restaurant that we ate at last week.” 한국어로는 “전 우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당에 또 갔어요"라고 말한다. 영어로 똑바로 번역하면 “I we last week went to restaurant to again went”말이다. 한국어가 왼쪽으로 분지 언어라서 문장 중에 왼쪽으로 확대한다! 이렇게 좀 더 쉽게 볼 수 있다: “전 (우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당)에 또 갔어요”. 주제가 “전"이고 동사가 “갔다"이고 목적어가 “우리 지난 주에 갔던 식당"이다. 영어 문장은 오른쪽으로 확대한다: I (S) went (V) to (the restaurant (that we went to (last week))) (O). 그래서 두 숙어 문장 만들고 싶으면 생각속에서도 순서를 변해야 된다. 2. 첫 째 점이니까 다른 사람을 자기 말을 아라들게 하고 싶으면, 충분히

A neural network that writes Scalia dissents

I trained a recursive neural network ( ) on a bunch of Justice Scalia's dissents from the past few years. It spits out some amusing stuff, depending on the starter text and how "adventurous" you want the output. Since it's character-based and not word-based, it makes a bunch of spelling errors (unlike Justice Scalia), but is also able to create new words (just like Justice Scalia!). Here are some samples. *** Starter text: "Justice SCALIA", random level: 0.8. Never would have expected this from a strict constructionist (check the first sentence). This one brings in same-sex marriage, constitutional interpretation, and the typical contempt-ridden air quotes. "Justice SCALIA, dissenting.  The Constitution is an opinion, and so views that "[t]he Court tait the structure relations (interneline) rejectly and weands is not categorical, while all this one inference to do be not applying a nample between the

Self-Awareness: The Key To A Better Life

How do you become a better person? How do you uncover your faults, and once found, how do you know where to focus your energy in order to improve them? How do you even know that there's something wrong in the first place? The answer lies in self-awareness, an absolutely critical life skill that most people spend a lifetime avoiding. Ever since I was a little kid, I've been possessed of the notion that the world is overrun with people who tramp through life in a nearly unconscious state. I can clearly remember going to the store one day as a child and watching a middle-aged woman pushing a cart while muttering to herself, not like she was crazy, but more like she was just going through the motions of life. She was an NPC , and she was not alone. I was probably three or four years old. Growing up to be the engineer and scientist (and philosopher?) that I am, I'm constantly searching for elegant solutions to the problems around me. My friends know that I very often start