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Mastering Time in Korean: Exploring Similar Time Adverbs

Have you ever found yourself puzzled by the subtle differences between words like "오래전" and "전에" ?

Do you wonder how native speakers effortlessly convey nuances of time in their conversations? Don't worry, at the end of this blog, you will know how to tell similar time

예전에 vs 그동안

"예전에" is a time adverb that translates to "before" or "a while ago." It's used to refer to events or situations that occurred in the past but are not necessarily ongoing. It is used when the speaker is nostalgic.


1) 그동안 일이 많이 바빴어. = I was busy during that time.

2) 너 그동안 어떻게 지냈어? = How have you been during that time?

On the other hand, "그동안" is a phrase that implies an extended period or duration, emphasizing the continuity of an action or state over time.

It can be translated as "during that time" or "in the meantime". This expression helps us describe actions or situations that took place continuously over an extended period.


1) 그동안 일이 많이 바빴어. = I was busy during that time.

2) 너 그동안 어떻게 지냈어? = How have you been during that time?

오래 vs. 길게

오래 : It is used to express the concept of a long duration, emphasizing the length of time without specifying an exact period.


1)그녀는 오래 동안 해외에서 살았다. = She lived abroad for a long time.

2) 오래간만에 다시 만나서 반가웠어. = It was nice to see you again after a long time.

길게 : Similar to 오래, 길게 is used to express a long duration but may focus more on the actual length or extent of time.


1)길게 생각하지 마. = Don't think too long.

2) 이 영화는 길게 느껴진다.= This movie feels too long.

자주 vs. 종종

자주 : It is used to express the frequency of an action, indicating that something happens often or regularly.


1)나는 자주 도서관에 가. = I often go to the library.

2) 친구들과 자주 만나 = I frequently meet my friends.

종종 : Similar to 자주, 종종 is used to convey a sense of frequency but may suggest that the action happens intermittently or occasionally.


1)종종 바쁜 일이 생겨서 전화하지 못해. = Occasionally, I get busy and can't call.

2) 그녀는 종종 여행을 간다. = She goes on trips from time to time.

얼마나 vs. 언제

얼마나: It is used to inquire about the degree, extent, or quantity of something, asking "how much" or "how many."


1)얼마나 시간이 걸렸어? = How much time did it take?

2) 얼마나 많은 책을 읽었어? = How many books did you read?

언제: It is used to inquire about the specific point in time when an event will occur, asking "when."


1)너의 생일은 언제야? = When is your birthday?

2) 회의는 언제 시작해요?= When does the meeting start?

때 vs. 동안

 and 동안 both refer to time, but they are used in different contexts.

때 : This word is used to indicate a specific point in time or a particular occasion.


1) 나는 저녁 먹을 때 항상 책을 읽어. = I always read a book when I eat dinner.

2) 비가 오는 때 우산을 가져가세요. = Bring an umbrella when it's raining

동안: This word signifies a continuous period or duration of time during which an action occurs.

Examples: .

1) 학교에 다닐 동안 많은 친구를 사귀었어. = I made many friends during my time at school.

2) 여름 동안 바다로 여행을 가고 싶어. = I want to travel to the beach during the summer.

일찍 vs. 일찍이

일찍: This adverb means early and is used to describe actions or events happening before the expected or usual time.


1)일찍 일어나서 운동하는 것이 좋아. = It's good to wake up early and exercise

2) 항상 일찍 집에 돌아가려고 노력해. = I always try to go home early.

일찍이 : This word also means early but is used to express surprise or disbelief about the earliness of a particular event.


1) 일찍이 와서 놀랐어요. =I was surprised that you came so early.

2) 일찍이 일어나서 일을 처리했어.= I handled the work early in the morning, surprisingly.

That's it for today's lesson. I hope this post helps you to differentiate some of the time adverbs. Stay tuned for more..Happy learning! Visit the website for more such free lessons..

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