Monday, February 23, 2015

English Lesson: "한국에 오신지 얼마나 됐어요?"라고 영어로?

I've lost count of how many times Koreans have asked me the question, "How long do you stay in Korea?" in those words or something very similar. Clearly this question is taught in every English class in Korea, because I hear it over and over again, so I just wanted to be very clear about something here:

DO NOT USE THIS EXPRESSION. IT IS INCORRECT.

This phrase is incorrect for a few reasons, but primarily because it sounds ambiguous to native English speakers. Specifically, there are probably two different questions that you really want to ask:

1) How long have you been in Korea? (한국에 오신지 얼마나 됐어요?)
2) How long will you stay in Korea? (한국에 얼마나 있을 거예요?/한국에 얼마동안 있을 계획이에요?)

Nearly always the intended question is number 1, "How long have you been in Korea?", followed afterwards by number 2, "How long will you stay in Korea?". But the incorrectly stated question ambiguously sounds somewhere in between number 1 and number 2. So, don't ever use it again. This concludes the important part of the lesson.

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For those who are curious, the original question sounds funny to native English speakers because of the use of the present tense "do you stay", since the intended question requires some sort of past tense. Trust me when I say that as written, this usage is incorrect. There are possible ways to make proper sentences with "do you stay", for example:

- When you come to Korea, how long do you usually stay? (한국에 오면 보통 얼마나 있다가세요?)

Until next time, happy language!

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