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Difference between 벌써 and 이미

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

Hello 안녕하세요!! I am Vaibhavi from India with another fun Korean lesson. 여기는 날씨가 춥습니다! 네 나라는 날씨가 어때요?

Let's start with today's lesson. In this lesson we will go through the difference between 벌써 and


벌써 and 이미 both mean 'already' but they are used differently in context. When you look up in the Korean dictionary 이미 is meant to use in a state in which something was done before the present.

벌써 is used when something by passes by more quickly than you thought or while talking about something that happened a long time ago.

벌써 and 이미 both are adverbs that are used to talk about things that happened in past. But, as a thumb rule 벌써 is often used to express surprise. 벌써 is used when something happens sooner than you expect or thought.

이미, on the other hand is a regular/ casual way of saying 'already' and is only used when something has already happened in past plus you are aware of the fact that it can't be changed now. When talking about past 벌써 and 이미 can be interchangeable used, however for expressing surprise only 벌써 is used.


a) 저는 이미 그 영화를 봤어요 = I already saw that film.

b) 저는 이미 밥을 먹었어요 = I already ate.

c) 난 이미 떠났어요. = I already left.

In the above sentences 이미 and 벌써 are interchangeable and can be reformed as :

a) 저는 벌써 그 영화를 봤어요 = I already saw that film.

b) 저는 벌써 밥을 먹었어요 = I already ate.

c) 난 벌써 떠났어요. = I already left.

But using 이미 is more natural as well as correct.

More Examples:

a) 아, 벌써 봄이 왔어요? - Oh, Spring has already come?

b) 벌써 다섯 시예요 - It’s already 5 o’clock.

c) 아까 점심 먹었잖아. 근데 벌써 배가 고파?. You had lunch earlier. But are you already hungry?

There is a famous Korean saying that goes: 이미 엎질러진 물이다. This literally means it's already split water but is used to mean it's no use crying over split water (what has happened has happened).

Let's wrap up by using both 벌써 and 이미 at the same time but in different context in a dialogue:

슈퍼마켓에서 (At the supermarket):

지수: 저기요! 세일은 오전 12시에 시작하죠? = Excuse me! The sale starts at 12:00 right?

제니:아니요! 판매가 이미 시작되었습니다. = No, It has already started.

지수: 네? 판매가 벌써 시작되었나요? = What? The sale has already started?

제니 : 다음에 잘하면 돼요.= Better luck next time.


I hope you learned something new in this lesson. I will see you in my next lesson. For more lessons, visit our website at

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