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.


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.

Verb Ending -네요 (-neyo)

Another learning from my Language Exchange Partner (LEP) is this topic,  the verb ending -네요 (-neyo).   This verb ending is used in declarative sentence.   I have not encountered this yet from the book so I am just relying on my previous learnings.  Two examples were given to me, analyzing each sentence:

버스가 정류장을 지나가네요. (Beosuka cheongryujangeul chinaganeyo  -The bus passes by the bus stop).   I suppose this verb ending, as most of the verb endings i have learned, is added to a verb’s base form.   

당신은 슬퍼보이네요.  (Dangshineun seulpeoboineyo – You look so sad). In this example i think it can be connected to copula 이에요 (ieyo).  I am not sure with it but looks like 네,  replaced 에 in the copula. 

My LEP mentioned that 네요 is rarely used with subject ‘I’.  Likewise he stressed that 하네요  (haneyo) is often used to say something that one saw or heard.  Here are some examples:

  • 그가 아프다고 하네요.  (Keuga apeudago haneyo. ) He is sick (he or someone said)
  • 제인이 말하기를 그 연극은 굉장하다고 하네요.  (Jeini malhagireul ku yeongukeun koengjanghadago haneyo) Jane said the play is awesome.
  • 강원도에는 폭설이 내렸다고 하네요. (Gangwondoeneun pokseori naeryeottdago haneyo).  Heavy snowfall is reported in Gangwon Province.
From the samples that he gave me i suppose that haneyo is used with verb+고 하네요.   I will try to research more on this verb ending as it  is commonly used in a conversation.

The Verb Ending 나요 (nayo)

This post is a fruit of my curiosity.  I have not encountered this from the books that I have been reading but normally hears it in most Korean conversations I have watched.   I basically learned this from my Language Exchage Partner (LEP). 

If you have been into learing Korean, you ought to know they have this verb ending which drives the tone of a sentence.  Verb ending is normally attached to base or infinitive form of a verb of course.   Since I have been hearing -나요 (-nayo) on conversation, i had a feeling that it functions as a verb ending.  My LEP confirmed this.  He said this is used in interrogative sentences (sort of inquisitive, curious or probing). 

From the examples he gave to me, it appears to me that this verb ending is attached to a base form of the verb.  Here is one sample he gave: 들리나요? (Deullinayo? — Can you hear me?) where 들리 (Deulli)  is base form of verb 들리다 (Deullida) which means hear or be audible.

For descriptive verbs which turns to processive by adding 하 (ha),  the verb ending is attached to ha instead of the base form of the descriptive verb.   Here are some examples:

  • 당신은 나를 사랑하나요? (Dangshineun nareul saranghanayo?) – Do you love me?
  • 어머니를 행복하나요? (Eomeonireul haengbokhanayo?) – Is your mother happy?

Maybe my next question is how is this different from verb ending  -니까 (-nikka). I am yet to find out 🙂

More Use of (으)ㄹ 수 있어요/없어요

The expression plain base+ㄹ 수 있어요 or 없어요 which means can or cannot <verb> also corresponds to the meaning of plain verb expression whether positive or negative.  Only, the pattern conveys possiblity and or ability.

The expression ㄹ 수 없어요  (-l su opseoyo) also means the same as the negative expression 못 followed by verb as in the case of 갈 수 없어요 (kal su opseoyo) is the same as 못 가요 (mot kayo); the first expression meaning cannot go and the second one emphatically means cannot go (sure that the person cannot go).

Here are some applications of this verb ending:

1.  내일 후에 시험  집에 갈 수 있어요. (Naeil hue shiheom jipe kal su isseoyo).  I can go home tomorrow after the exam.

2.  오늘 아침 도서관에 올 수 있어요? (Oneul achim dosogwane ol su isseoyo?) Can you come to the library this morning?

3.  새 가방이 볼 수 있어요? ( Sae kabangi bol su isseoyo) Can i see the new bag?

4.  동생이  파티에 갈 수 없어요. (Dongsaengi pati.e kal su opseoyo) My younger brother cannot go to the party.

5.  내가  바뻐서, 이메일 답장을  보낼 수 없어요. (Naega papposo, email dapjangi bonael su opseoyo)  I cannot send my email reply because I am busy.

Expressing Can and Cannot Do

The expression can or cannot do in Korean is made using the pattern plain base+ (으)ㄹ 수 then 있어요 (isseoyo) or 없어요 (opseoyo).  This verb ending literally means ‘ a means exists’ or ‘a means do not exists’.   Here are examples:

  • 볼 수 있어요 (bol su isseoyo) can [I/we] see
  • 쓸 수 있어요 (seul su isseoyo) can write or can use
  • 걸을 수 없어요 (keoreul su opseoyo) can’t walk
  • 갈 수 없어요 (kal su opseoyo) can’t go

The behavior is the same as that of the verb ending for probable future (으)ㄹ 거에요 (eu0l koeyo) where l-extending verbs remains unextended when the attached as such:

살다 (to live) is transformed to 살 수 없어요 (sal su opseoyo) to mean can’t live.  살 in this form  is actually 사 (unextended form)+ ㄹ (the modifier in the verb ending).

Doing Favors with 줘요(주어요)

When telling about a favor done for someone, the compound verb consisting of verb in infinitive form + the verb give –either 줘요 (juwoyo) or 드려요 (deuryeoyo) for someone esteemed can be used.

  • 누나에게 선물을 부쳐 드렸어요.  (Nunaeke seonmureul buchi deuryeosseoyo).  I sent my older sister a present.
  • 좀 시간 기다려 줘요?  (Chom shican kidaryeo juwoyo?) Can you wait for me for a little time?
  • 선생님한데  사진을 보여 드렸어요 (Seonsaengnimhante sajineul boyeo deuryeosseoyo) Did you show teacher the pictures?

To specify who the person for whom the favor is done the particle 한데  (hante) or 에게 (eke) is added in the name to indicate the person as indirect object.  If the person is someone esteemed it should be 에께 (ekke).