On the contrary: ㄴ/은 걸(요)

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  • Listening to J-Rabbit’s ‘Wonderful World’ from the Jekyll, Hyde and Me soundtrack, I kept hearing lines ending with 은걸. But what does it mean?

    A/V + 은 걸(요) shows that what has happened is contrary to what one knew or expected. It can also be a soft form of disagreeance or exasperation with what has been said or found.

    Here are some examples from the song, in which the character seems to be exasperated by the nature of relationships:

    여기를 보아도 저기를 보아도, 이상한 일 인걸
    I look here and there,
    It’s such a strange thing (and I don’t understand why it should be)

    이랬다 저랬다 울그락 불그락, 정신이 없는 걸
    I do this, I do that, I turn red, I turn blue,
    I’m losing my mind (how can this be?) 

    시간은 충분히 하나씩 천천히, 복잡한 일 인걸
    There’s enough time, one by one, slowly,
    it’s so complicated (I didn’t expect it to be like this)

    어차피 모두가 알다가도 모르는 세상일 뿐 인걸
    One way or the other, everyone knows but still doesn’t know
    (I’m now realising) that’s just the way the world is

    어차피 모두 알수록 묘한 인생일 뿐 인걸
    The more you know, the stranger life is anyhow (that’s how it seems)

    어차피 모두가 알수록 재밌는 사람들 뿐 인걸
    Anyhow, the more you know people the more interesting they are (it seems that way, though I didn’t know that would be the case)

    어쩌면 아무도 모르는 신비한 마법같은 일 인걸
    Maybe it’s like a mysterious magic spell that no-one knows about (who knows?!)

  • 2 thoughts on “On the contrary: ㄴ/은 걸(요)

    1. I always enjoy reading your blog to learn something new, review something I previously learned or get some interesting example sentences. So, thanks!

      Would you say this grammar point is slightly poetic? I don’t hear it too often living in Korea in daily speech. The times I do hear it, I hear people using it in a “to the contrary” sort of tone.

      • Hi Jeremy! Thank you so much for reading, and for your comment. I would agree with you, this one is kind of lyrical and I can certainly hear it in the tone you describe. I do love the intonation of some of the phrases and grammar in Korean – it can be so full of character…

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