More Tips on Use of Future Marker

Still on use of future,  verbs of knowing is usually expressed uisng -겠- or the future presumptive.  Like when you say  I know or I don’t know one may expect this in Korean as 알아요 (arayo) 몰라요 (mollayo) respectively.  They are both in present form but you will hear people use 알겠어요 (algesseoyo) to say I know.  The -겠- marker gives a hint of tentativeness.  You will often hear 알겠어요 when asking do you know? or do you understand?  Again this is because the marker makes it tentative and it sound more polite when used for second person question.

For future statement expressing willingness to or wants to, the future presumptive verb is preferred.  When making questions or suggestions that is indicative of the future, never ever use the probable future or immedaite future style.  The future presumptive style -겠- is often used.  Check this example:

  • 신보하시겠어요? (shinbohashikesseoyo?) Would you like to walk?
  • 신보하실거에요? (shinboshilkeoeyo?) Are you going to take a walk

Note the difference in meaning the second one which is the one in probable future form is a question that is not meant to be answered but rather just a matter-of-fact question. 

Also when speaking about intention of other people, never ever use the immediate future -(으)ㄹ께요 as Koreans don’t allow others to speak about their intention with certainty.  In such cases use the presumptive or probable future 🙂


Wrap up Types of Future

Its very interesting to note that there are several ways to express future in Korean.  Unlike in English where the word will and shall are your key to the future, the choice of marker for the verb indicates more than the future but the urgency and intention as well. 

Probable Future distinguished by -(으)ㄹ 거에요 / -(eu)l koeyo is the most common way to to refer future events in Korean.  It can be used in all persons (1st, 2nd or 3rd person point of view).  It can also be attached to all types of verbs, descriptive or processive.

Future Presumptive is the more popular marker.  Most refers -겠-  (-kket-) as the marker that indicates future.  While this true, the future presumptive is a matter of fact statement of personal intention.  It can only be used for first person statements and second person questions.

Immediate Future on the other hand can be distinguished by -(으)ㄹ 께요/ -(eu)l kkeyo.  It is always first person and the action is usually beneficial to the hearer.  This marker can only be used in a processive verb or verb that takes a direct object.

Here are example to show you how the meaning differs using the 3 types of future:

  • 읽껬어요 (ilkkesseoyo) means I will read, am going to read.  This is a strong statement of the speaker’s intention to read.
  • 읽을거에요 (ilkeulkeoeyo) will read, am/is going to read.  Statement in this form is less certain than the first.
  • 읽을께요 (ilkeulkkeyo) I’ll read it/ I promise to read it.  This makes the statement more immediate and gives a hint of promise or even assurance that the speaker is actually going to read.

Immediate Future in -(으)ㄹ께요

I have learned 2 ways to express future and learned another way.  This one  is called immediate future, performed by attaching -(으)ㄹ 께요 (eu/lkkeyo) to plain base of a processive verbs only (one that can take direct objects).  The verb ending ㄹ께요 (lkkeyo)  is added to vowel ending verb while for consonant ending verb 을께요 (eulkeyo) is added:

  • 쓸께요 (Sseulkkeyo) – will write
  • 할께요 (halkkeyo) – will do
  • 읽을께요 (ilkeulkkeyo) – will read
  • 앉을께요 (anjeulkkeyo) – will sit

Immediate future when used is always on a first person basis , the speaker is doing the action.   Below are some examples of its use:

  • 에레베이터 앞에서 기다리고 있을께요 (Elevetor apeso kidarigo isseulkkeyo) I will be waiting for you in fron tof the elevator.
  • 내일 갈께요 (Naeil kalkkeyo) I will go tomorrow.

Statements in this style gives assurance or certainty that the action will be performed.  Using this style normally denotes a promise-like future that is within the control of the speaker.

Past-Future using -겠-

When expressing ‘would have done’  or ‘probably has done’ in English, this more or less corresponds to the Korean Past-Future using -겠- (-kett-) attached to a past base reagrdless if plain past or honorific past.  Below shows the progression of verb ‘go’  from plain base to past base to past future base while the next one is the progression in honorific form:

  • 가 (ka) -> 갔 (katt) -> 갔겠 (kattkett)
  • 가시  (kashi) -> 가셨 (kasyeott) -> 가셨겠 (kasyeottkett)

Here are some uses in a sentence:

  • 돈이 만히  들었겠어요.  (Doni manhi deureottkesseoyo) It must have cost a lot.
  • 어빠가 벌써 했겠어요. (Oppaga beolsseo haettkesseoyo) Brother will have already done it

In this sentence, the past marker gives the meaning as the English verb has or have while the future marker gives it a meaning of probably. 

This may sound a bit confusing for non native speaker of Korean when you compare the future form versus the past-future.  The only difference is probably on how  ‘ㄱ’  will sound.  Lile in the example 가,  in simple future this is 가겠어요 would be pronounced more like kagesseoyo (ㄱis more on the g sound since it is sandwich between 2 vowel sounds). For the past-future this is 갔겠어요 which is pronounced as katkesseoyo where t in most cases will be swallowed so you would only hear kakesseoyo.