Words and Expressions: This and That

Having to point something or describe location of something is very basic in any language. When a child is learning to speak, adults would tend to say short phrases complemented with gesture or sign language. Like a child who would have difficulty understanding the simplest statement, same goes for someone learning a new language.

Here are some basic words which i would commonly hear in a Korean conversation:

  • 이 (i or ee) – this
  • 그 (geu) – that (nearby)
  • 저 (jeo) – that (remote)
  • 어디 (eodi) – where

The above set of words can transform into a verb expression.  It would be easier to observe the end state pattern than to explain it inductively:

  • 이래요(iraeyo) – does [it] this way / is like this
  • 그래요 (geuraeyo) – does it that way/ is like that
  • 저래요 (jeoraeyo) – does it that [remote] way / is like that [remote] way
  • 어때요 (eottaeyo) – does it how (or why?) / is like what? (is how?)

There is a long explanation on the steps by which this words are formed.  이래요 is from base form 이러 which is instead of making it 이러요 (ireoyo) or 이러해요 (ireohaeyo), by certain rules on abbreviating, the verb ending becomes 래요.  This is the thing with reading books when learning language, questions could pop up in your mind one after another.

Now it made me understand more the common expression 그래요, it sometimes used to mean you agree on something or conclude it was like that.

Expressing Mild Surprise

I am back to reading my Continuing Korean book.  I have been so curious about the -네요 (-neyo) verb ending for the longest time.  I asked about this before from a former Language Exchange Partner (LEP) and I guess there was a different explanation.  Finally there is an answer to this question.

The verb ending -네요 when attached to processive or descriptive verb expresses mild surprise. Its like having ‘oh gee’ or ‘oh my’ in the statement. The verb ending -네요 can be attached to base form of the verb in all tenses – present, past and future.

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I don’t usually eat spicy food but having been introduced to Korean food, I learned to like spicy food since pepper paste and red pepper powder are usually added in their dishes. The expression above 맛있네요! (Mashineyo!) can translate to Oh my…its delicious.

Here are more examples on how the verb ending can be used in different tenses:

  • 한국말을 잘 하시네요! (Hangukmareul jal hashineyo) -You speak Korean so well!
  • 동생이 시를 잘 썼네요! (Dongsaengi shireul sseoneyo) – My younger brother/sister wrote the poem so well.
  • 밥을 사야 되겠네요 (Papeul saya dwikeneyo) – Oh my we will have to buy more food.

I always hear this verb ending in Korean conversation.  Now I know why. Btw, the book says it is inappropriate to use this as a reply to a question.  The use of this verb ending is normally like talking to oneself but in such a way that others notice you are surprised.

Please say it in…

I tried to make friends to several Koreans.  Few years ago, you have to look for a Language Exchange site to get connected to people from other countries.  These sites were specifically made to learn a second language from a native speaker member.  It was not exactly easy and free.  To be able to be ‘searchable’ and ‘to search’ for someone, premium membership is required.  However, these days, with the number of social network sites and App for messaging, the world of language exchange is very accessible.  I met a lot of people who shares the same interest as I do from Facebook and even at LinkedIn.

Chatting via messaging application like Kakaotalk allows me to practice Korean. Up until now it’s a challenge to respond as quickly and natural as I can.  Sometimes I have to request my language exchange partner to say it in English. This is why i learned how to request my Korean friend to say something in English:

영어로 말 해주세요 (Yeongeoro mal haejuseyo).  To break the sentence down:

  • 영어로 (Yeongeoro) – Yeongeo is English and the -ro suffix means ‘in’ thus, making  the word mean ‘in English’
  • 말 (mal) – say
  • 해주세요 (haejuseyo) – please do it

I know it sounds a bit weird to have the ending as please do it but that is just the direct translation.  It is like ‘say in English, please do it’ literally  but of course it actually means ‘Please say it in English’.

So if you want to request someone to say (what he just said in another language) in Korean just replace Yeongeo with Hangugeo.  한국어로 말 해주세요  (Hangugeoro mal haejuseyo) – Please say it in Korean.

Quoting Someone

I have always been wondering how to say ‘Someone said..’ in Korean.  In a usual conversation it is common to quote a person for saying something.  I have not read about this lesson yet so I asked my language exchange partner (LEP) how to say it in Korean.

There are two ways to say this according to my LEP:

  • 말했는데 – malhaenunde (formal)
  • 그러던데 – geureodeonde (informal)

The pattern is subject + 말했는데 or 그러던데+ the thing or event that has been said.  This post is triggered by someone saying that Jinhae (a place in Korea) is a very beautiful place to visit during spring because of cherry blossoms.  Then i asked my self how do I say that in Korean?

My friend said the place is really beautiful –> 내 친구 말했는데 거기 정말 아름다운 곳이래.  The sentence can be broken down as follows:

  • 내 친구 (nae chingu) – my friend
  • 말했는데 (malhaeneunde) – said
  • 거기 (kogi) – there, referring to a place
  • 정말 (chongmal) – truly or really
  • 아름다운 (areum daeun) – beautiful
  • 곳이래 (koshirae) – place

I am so happy I learned this sentence pattern.

Another Way to Express Hopes and Wishes

One of the first expressions I learned in Korean is the verb+고 싶어요 (-go shipeoyo).   This expresses wish to ‘verb’  just like how 보고 싶어요  (bogo shipeoyo) would mean I wish to see you or in most cases would mean I miss you.

This lesson I just read reminds me of the first days I tried having a Language Exchange Partner (LEP).  He told me how 좋겠어 (chokesseo) in the end of the sentence would also mean expressing hopes and wishes.  I didn’t understand back then.  He must have had a hard time explaining it to me because i don’t really understand Korean grammar then (well at least now  I have better idea).

The format I have learned now is 으면 좋겠어요 (eumyeon chokesseo).   좋겠어요 corresponds to would/will be good or nice while the 으면 refers to if something is blank blank so this expression means it would be good or nice if something exists or happens.

여름이 가지 않으면 좋겠어요 (Yeoreumi kaji aneumyeon chokesseoyo)-  I wish summer would stay.  It literally mean if summer didn’t go, it would be good.

새 옷 많이 하면 좋겠습니다 (Sae ot manhi hamyeon chokessumnida) – I wish i have many new clothes.

Lastly, this is something I really wish for my self.  한국말을 잘 하면 좋겠어요. (Hangukmareul jal hamyeon chokesseoyo).  It would really be good if I speak Korean well.

Having this post, I suddenly missed 진명.  I wonder where he is right now.  He was my first LEP.  진명이 서울에 만나면 좋겠어요!

At the Latest and At Least in Korean

I just learned how say ‘at the latest’ and ‘at least’ in Korean.  There are two descriptive verbs when added with 어도 gives that maximum and minimum meaning.

  • 늦어도 (neujeodo) –  at the latest (even though it is late)
  • 적어도(chokodo) – at least (even though its few or small)

It’s like an idiomatic expression because 늦어 means to be late and 적어 means to few or small.  Here are some examples patterned from this lesson:

  • 여기부터  공항까지 적어도 2시간은 걸리겠어요.  (Yeogibuto gonghangkajji chokodo 2shiganeun keollikesseoyo) – From here to the airport must take at least 2 hours.
  • 제가 늦어도 11시까지는 집에 가야. (Chega neujeodo 11shikkajineun jipe kaya) – I need to be home by 11pm at the latest.

Seems or Looks Like Expression

I certainly love listening to Korean songs.  Although it is not a good way to learn the language due to some poetic license, it makes you recall phrases and words that you can actually hear being used in regular conversation.  Recently I am inflicted with LSS, short for Last Song Syndrome and the song that keeps on playing in my head these days is an OST from a reality show called ‘The Romantic’.  The song is entitled 사랑은 너인 것 같아 (Sarangeun Noin Kot Kata) by 나비 (Navi).   That part where she sings the lines 사랑은 너인 것 같아 feels like a big confession of a strange feeling that love brings.

The title of the song is typically translated as ‘I think My Love is You’.  I kept on wondering how the title has been translated this way because I only know  ‘think’ is 생각하다 (saenggakhada) in Korean plus 같아 (kata) as far as my little knowledge of the language means together with or like.   Finally, I saw answer to this.   Browsing on my Continuing Korean book, I saw this lesson on Modifiers with 것 같아요.  So this modifier actually means seems or looks as if, it literally means same thing as.

The book says it has been very popular expression to young speaker  (the book is published 2002 makes me think how young is young ^_^)  If I have to use what I just learned then the title of the song can be Seems You are My Love.  The book emphasizes on the use of this pattern even on situation where there is absolutely no doubt or question.  For someone who speaks English, ‘seems’ connotes a little uncertainty.  Typically used if the speaker is not so sure of a fact that he is stating.

Here are some examples of the use of this modifier.

  • 기차가 오는 것 같아요 (Kichaga oneun kot katayo) – The train seems to be coming
  • 감기에 걸린 것 같아요 ( Kamki-e kollin kot katayo) – I seem to have caught a cold
  • 내 책을 잊어버린 것 같아요  (Nae chaekeul ijeobeorin kot katayo) – I seem to have forgotten my book