How about …? / ~ 어때요?
What do you think about …? / 어떻게 생각하세요? / 어떤 것 같아요?
One of the most … / 가장 ~ 중의 하나
Do you mind if I …? / -아/어/여도 돼요?
I’m in the middle of …-ing / -는 중이에요
Word Builder Lesson 9 / -님
One way or the other / 어차피
I’m not sure if … / -(으/느)ㄴ지 잘 모르겠어요.
While you are at it / -(으)ㄴ/는 김에
Sentence Building Drill 6
I mean… / 그러니까, 제 말 뜻은, -라고요, 말이에요
What do you mean? What does that mean? / 무슨 말이에요?
Word Builder 10 - 과(過)
“/ (slash)” or“and” / -(으)ㄹ 겸
The thing that is called, what they call … / -(이)라는 것
let me tell you… / -거든(요)
Either A or B, Or / -거나, -(이)나, 아니면
To improve, to change, to increase / -아/어/여지다 Part 2
Sentence Building Drill 7
Passive Voice – Part 1
Word Builder 11 / 무 (無)
Passive Voice – Part 2
I DID do it, I DO like it / -기는 하다
Easy/difficult to + V / -기 쉽다/어렵다
I thought I would …, I didn’t think you would … / -(으)ㄴ/ㄹ 줄 알다
Can, to be able to, to know how to / -(으)ㄹ 수 있다, -(으)ㄹ 줄 알다
It depends on … / -에 따라 달라요
Sometimes I do this, sometimes I do that / 어떨 때는 -고, 어떨 때는 -아/어/여요
Sentence Building Drill 8
Welcome to Part 2 of the Passive Voice lesson! In Part 1, we learned how sentences in the passive voice are generally made. In this part, let us take a look at how the passive voice in English and in Korean are different, as well as some more example sentences.
Let’s review a little bit first.
Suffixes for passive voice in Korean
Verb stem + -이/히/리/기-
Verb stem + -아/어/여지다
Again, there is no fixed rule for which verb stem should be followed by one of the -이/히/리/기- suffixes and which should be followed by -아/어/여지다. Some verbs even have an identical meaning when followed by either of these two grammar points!
자르다 = to cut
+ -이/히/리/기- → 잘리다 = to be cut
+ -아/어/여지다 → 잘라지다 = to be cut
풀다 = to untie, to solve
+ -이/히/리/기- → 풀리다 = to come untied, to be solved
+ -아/어/여지다 → 풀어지다 = to come untied, to be solved
Another Meaning for Passive Voice Sentences in Korean
In Korean, in addition to the meaning of an action “being done”, the meaning of “possibility” or “capability” is also very commonly used with passive voice sentences (The basic idea is that, when you do something, if something gets done, it is doable. If something doesn’t get done when you do or try to do it, it’s not doable or not possible to do).
This meaning of “possibility” or “capability” does not signify YOUR ability or capability so much as it does the general “possibility” of that certain action being done.
만들다 is “to make”, and when you say 만들어지다, in the standard passive voice sense, it would mean “to be made.” However 만들어지다 can not only mean “to be made”, but it can also mean “can be made”.
이 핸드폰은 중국에서 만들어져요.
= This cell phone is made in China.
케이크를 예쁘게 만들고 싶은데, 예쁘게 안 만들어져요.
= I want to make this cake in a pretty shape, but I can’t make it pretty.
In the 2nd example sentence, you can see that the person is NOT directly saying that he or she CAN’T make a pretty cake, but that the cake DOESN’T get made in a pretty shape.
If you just say “예쁘게 못 만들어요”, it might mean that you lack the ability to make it pretty.
이거 안 잘라져요.
= This doesn’t get cut.
= I can’t cut it. (more accurate)
= It is not heard.
= I can’t hear you. (more accurate)
= It is not seen.
= I can’t see it.
하다 vs. 되다
Since the passive voice represents “possibility” or “capability”, the passive voice form of 하다, which is 되다, takes on the meaning of “can” as well.
하다 = to do (active voice)
되다 = to be done, to get done (passive voice)
되다 = can be done, can do (possibility/capability)
이거 안 돼요.
= This doesn’t get done.
= I can’t do this. (more accurate)
= I can’t seem to do it. (more accurate)
이해가 안 돼요.
= Understanding is not done.
= It is not understood.
= I can’t understand. (more accurate)
= I don’t understand. (more accurate)
More Examples With 되다
From there, we can create additional patterns with 되다.
Originally, 되다 means “to be done”, but it can also mean things like:
- can be served
- to be available
- can be spoken
- can be done
- can be made
- can be finished
여기 김밥 돼요?
= Do you have/serve kimbap here?
영어가 안 돼서 걱정이에요.
= I’m worried because I can’t speak English.
오늘 안에 돼요?
= Can you finish it today?
So how often does the passive voice take on the meaning of “possibility”?
Through Part 1 and 2 of this lesson, we have looked at how passive voice sentences are formed and used. First, you need to figure out (by being exposed to a lot of Korean sentences or by memorizing the suffixes that go with each verb) which of the endings is used in the passive voice form. Also, you need to tell from the context of the sentence whether the verb is used in the original “passive” voice form or in the sense of “possibility/capability”.
Often times, though, sentences that would certainly be in the passive voice are written in the active voice in Korean. This is because, in English, you use the passive voice in order to NOT show the subject of a certain action in a sentence; in Korean, you can easily drop the subject, so you don’t have to worry about it as much.
For example, when you say “this was made in Korea”, who are you referring to? Who made it? Do you know? Probably not. Therefore, in English, you just say that “it” was made in Korea. In Korean, you don’t have to worry about the subject of the verb, so you can just use the active voice form and say 한국에서 만든 거예요. or 한국에서 만들었어요. In these two sentences, the verbs are in the active voice, but no one asks “so who made it?” as it is understood that “it was made (by somebody) in Korea”.