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Untranslatable Korean Grammar | 잖다, 거든요, 기는요

안녕하세요 Koreanstudyjunkie입니다. Today, we'll look at three different grammar structures that don't have direct translations in English.

Disclaimer: while these grammar structures can be translated in a way that conveys the feeling they represent, technically they have no direct translation. The grammar we’ll look at today is usually used as a response to something that was said or asked, which is why I believe they don’t have more direct translations.


Usage = Used only in conversations. Usually as a response to a question to express your reasoning. Also to add on more to a statement you already made to provide the reason behind it. The listener knows nothing about it prior to you saying it. It should not be used in formal situations.

This is usually given the translation of “because”, since that is the feeling it gives when you use it.


A/V past tense -았/었거든요

A/V present tense -거든요

A/V future tense/ guess -(으)ㄹ 거거든요

Nouns past tense -였거든요 / 이였거든요

Nouns present tense -(이)거든요


가: 왜 우산의 가지고 왔어요?

Why did you bring an umbrella?

나: 오늘 일기예보에서 비가 온다고 했거든요.

Because the weather forecast said it was going to rain today.

가: 새 노트북을 샀네요?

Did you buy a new notebook?

나: 네, 예전 노트북은 너무 느렸거든요. 그래서 새 노트북을 샀어요.

Yes, the previous one is very slow. So I bought a new one.


Usage: There are 2 situations in which this grammar is used. The first is when you want to say something to the listener that they should already know or when you want to remind them of what they apparently have forgotten.

It is given multiple “translations” similar to “as you know” or “you know” or “remember..”


A/V past tense - 았/었잖아요

A/V present tense -잖아요

A/V future tense / guess -(으)ㄹ거잖아요

Nouns past tense - 였잖아요 / 이였잖아요

Nouns present tense -(이)잖아요

First Usage Examples:

가: 넌 아이스크림 안 먹니?

You’re not eating Icecream?

나: 찬 음식을 많이 먹으면 배가 아프잖아요. (You know that) If I eat a lot of cold food, my stomach hurts

그 사람은 한국인이 아니라 중국인이잖아.

That person isn’t Korean, they As you should know) are Chinese.

2nd USAGE: The second usage is when you want to scold the listener for not heeding your advice or allowing something bad to happen even after they were warned beforehand. This is usually used with the quoting form to indicate what was previously said or advised. For example, I told you… I said…

Second Usage Examples:

가: 엄마, 어떻게 해요? 학교에 늦겠어요.

Mom, what should I do? I’m going to be late for school.

나: 그래서 어제 일찍 자라고 했잖아.

(You should know) that’s why I told you to go to bed early.


Usage: To politely refuse or disagree with someone else. When it’s used to respond to a compliment, it can express the speaker’s modesty. Kind of like saying “no that’s not true”. It can be shortened to -긴요.


A/V -기는요

Nouns (이)기는요


가: 한국에 온 지 얼마 안 돼서 매운 음식은 못 먹지요?

Since you haven’t been in Korea for long you can’t eat spicy food, right?

나: 못 먹긴요. 얼마나 좋아하는데요.

No, I can eat it. I enjoy it a lot.

가: 한국말 정말 잘하시네요!

Your Korean is really good!

나: 잘하기는요. 아직도 많이 배워야 해요.

Not, it’s not really that good. I’ve still got so much more to learn.

가:수박 한 통에 이만 원이라고요? 좀 비싼데요.

It's 20,000 won for a watermelon? It's a bit expensive.

나:비싸기는요. 요즘 물가가 얼마나 올랐는데요.

It's not expensive. Prices have gone up these days.


That's the end of this post! We have plenty more lessons like this here. Or you can check below to see posts related to this one.


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