I intended/tried to but couldn’t: V + 을래야… 을 수가 없다

V + 을래야… 을 수가 없다 is part of a structure that says you tried or intended to do something but did not succeed for some reason. Commonly found in speaking, the full pattern is:

  • Give the reason first
  • State the attempted/desired action before 을래야
  • State the verb again before 을 수가 없다

너무 시끄러워 잠이 들을래야 잠이 들 수가 없었어요.
It was too noisy so I tried to fall asleep but couldn’t.

열차가 가득해 자리에 앉을래야을 수가 없었어요.
The train was crammed so though I wanted to sit down but couldn’t.

음식이 너무 짜을래야을 수가 없었어요.
The food was too salty so when I tried to eat it I couldn’t.

마지막 버스를 놓쳐 친구랑 만날래야날 수가 없었어요.
I wanted to meet my friend but I couldn’t because I missed the last bus.