Wednesday, October 29, 2008

(으)면과 다면

In Elementary-level Korean, I learnt how to use the grammar ~(으)면. In Intermediate-level Korean, I learnt how to apply ~다면. But there is always this question that has been bugging me. What is the difference between the two grammars? It seems like this question will only be answered in Advanced-level Korean.

(Making an assumption, based on known facts or accepted belief, which is quite probable to happen )

The conjunction (으)면 is normally used when a person knows a certain fact, truth or information which is probably true. By making certain assumption using (으)면, the person can emphasise a fact, give a warning, an advice or an encouragement. (으)면 is also used when time is being talked about (for e.g. 시간이 나면, 밤이 되면).

Example 1: 계속해서 운동을 하지 않으면 건강이 나빠질 것이다.
The known fact here is that exercise is good for health and the lack of it means health will deteriorate. The assumption made is, if that somebody continues not to exercise, then let him be warned that his health will deteriorate. In this situation, (으)면 is used to give a warning because it is already known that the lack of exercise will eventually mean deteriorating health.

Example 2: 나이가 들 누구나 흰머리가 생긴다.
In this example, the truth is that everyone will have white hairs when we grow old. (으)면 is used in this situation to emphasise the fact to those who may not have fully accepted the fact that if we grow old, we will naturally have white hairs.

(Making an assumption, based on personal feeling or belief, which is quite improbable to happen)

Example 1: 네가 도와주지 않았다면 일을 그렿게 빨리 끝낼 수 없었을 거야.

What this sentence is trying to say is, "I believe that if you had not helped, the task would not have completed so expeditiously." The speaker is trying to give credits to someone else for a task well done. The truth may be that 'someone' did not actually contribute much and the speaker is fully deserving of all the credits except that he chose not to accept them out of humbleness.

Example 2: 내가 너라면 이번에 받은 장학금으로 영행을 갈 거야.
(Note: ~다면 includes (Action Verb + (은/는)다면), (Stative Verb + 다면) and (Noun + (이)라면). In this sentence, "너" is a noun, hence "라면".)

In this example, the assumption made is definitely not probable since 'I' cannot be 'you'. However, this improbable assumption is still made to create a scenario for the speaker to express his thought on what he will do in that particular scenario. It may sound strange for someone to assume a scenario in order to speak out his intention, but it won't be strange if you know that the speaker (in this context) is trying to tell the other person indirectly that you are not using your scholarship for what it is worth. '다면' can be used to tell someone about your opinion or proposal in an indirect and subtle way so as to avoid offending someone who may not like to be told what to do directly.

The grammar 아/어서 may be my most frequently-used grammar but (으)면 and 다면 are the grammars that "witness" my progression from Elementary to Advanced-level Korean. For this reason, I have to write this post ^^

이퀴녹 축가해. 여기까지 닿을 수 있는 건 쉬운 건 아니야. 나도 너무나 놀랐어. 그래서 잘 했어. 파이팅!


  1. Wow... I've always wanted to know what the difference was... I just took them as "if", and left it at that... I knew that they had a different 느낌, but my Korean friends couldn't really explain it... 그냥 이프 ㅋㅋㅋ

    고마워요 ^^

  2. Hello Andy, you are welcome. I have a lot more questions in my head than I have answers for.
    언제나 대답을 찾았다면 써 볼게요. 모두 "if" 와 "but"를 빼고 그냥 해 보면 더 좋은 결과를 얻을 수가 있잖아요.

  3. hey.... hehe. we just learnt abt it 2 weeks back. :) this semester is really flying by!! 들어가기 싫어.. :( 오래동안 한국에서 있으면 좋겠다! ^^

  4. 한국에서 뭐하냐? 빨리 돌어와! ㅋㅋㅋ

    마지막 문장은 조금 틀린 것 같애.
    "오랫동안 한국에 있으면 좋겠다"는 나을 거라고 생각하는데 ^^;

  5. 안녕하세요, thanks for this interesting entry.

    I haven't learnt ~다면 yet, but have heard it being used before. I think I've also heard ~다며 used frequently before, though I'm not sure if it's a suffix or just a noun.

    In Example 2 of ~다면, you used ~라면.

    From what I've been taught, the "if" particle differs according to whether it's used with a verb or a noun.

    If it's a verb then it's ~(으)면, and if it's a noun, it's ~(이)라면.

  6. I think ~다며 is "related" to the conjunction (으)며 which simply means "and".

    ~다면 includes (Action Verb + (은/는)다면), (Stative Verb + 다면) and (Noun + (이)라면). I have avoided stating this because I want to keep the explanation as simple as possible.

    Similarly, (으)면 includes (Verb + (으)면) and (Noun + (이)면). So it may not be true that noun must be followed by ~(이)라면. It really depends.

  7. 그래요.. that means I'll have to relearn a lot of things in the future! -_-

    But thanks, at least I'll have some mental preparation now. ㅋㅋ

  8. Hi there,

    Just like to say you really have a nice blog and I believe you are definitely much better at Korean than me.

    In a book which I use, Continuing Korean by Yeon Jae-Hoon, it also touches on these two forms -(으)면 and 다면. For reasons I never understood the latter was introduced under "Retrospective Conditionals" which was closely related to the retrospective conditional -더라면. I also never knew the difference between the two, but now I think I may have a better understanding ^_^

    당신의 블로그 봐서 나는 정말 고맙군요. 제가 이상한 말을 한다면 영서해 주십시오. 감사합니다. :)

  9. Thank you Jim. ^^

    더 is retrospective but not 다면.

    ~더라면 is usually used in the form: Action Verb + 았/었더라면 to express a sense of regret for not doing something in the past.

    Though ~다면 and ~더라면 may be related, there is no harm thinking of them as two separate grammars. "더" may look simple but it is quite a difficult grammar to understand in reality.

  10. Wow...i was surprised when i read this one...cos 1 day right before u posted it, i just had it in the class... ~다면 and i had a big question with the difference...and here i was... got the answer ^ ^

    i face the same phase too...
    in the beginner part i enjoyed the accepting process of the new language...
    in intermediate i started to questioning what's the difference between this and that...cos the literally translation (한영) it has the same word...why should this, why should that...
    since i'm still in the intermediate ^ ^ still don't know the feeling in advance level ㅋㅋㅋ
    May be all the questions will be revealed in advance part ^ ^ i just wait patiently for that :D

    고마워용 ^ ^

  11. WOW!
    I really like the way you explained it.
    I'm a foreign university student and my major is in Korean lang. I get confused a lot because of many korean grammar rules that are so similar such as '-던'&'-았/었던', '아/어서& (으)니까' 등

    It's my first time here in your blog and it will not be the last one.
    Thanks a lot

    참, 저도 한국어 공부하기를 좋아합니다.^^

  12. thank you so much for solving the big question in my head,but isn't it ㄴ/는 다면 instead of 은/는 다면?

  13. actually, i was quite long-winded. let me explain again the difference between (으)면 and 다면 in a simpler manner.

    When (으)면 is used, it means something is quite possible.

    When 다면 is used, it means something is highly impossible.

    Compare the difference between 시간이 있으면 and 시간이 있다면:

    시간이 있으면 means if I have time (which I think I will probably have). In other words, to the speaker, the 'assumption' he made is likely to happen.

    시간이 있다면 means if I have time (which I think I probably won't have). In other words, to the speaker, the assumption he made is quite unlikely to happen

    So if a person says, "시간이 있다면 같이 먹자", you can give up your hope of having a lunch with him. What he is trying to say, in a rather indirect way, is I don't think I have time.

  14. 오늘은 ~는다면 문법을 배웠어요. '는다면' 과 '으면' 어떻게 다른지 알고싶어요. 다르는거 모르면 답답해요. 인터넷으로 검색하니까 재미의 브로크 찾아왔어요. 설명을 가르쳐 줘서 감사해요. ^^

    Sorry for my bad korean. Wow this post was created in 2008 and I am glad that its still here. Thank you!

    1. 그래요? 아무것도 생각이 나지 않네요. 어떻하죠? ㅎㅎ

      연새에 갔다왔군요. 재미있었을 텐데 기회가 된다면 6급까지 하시고 인생 최고의 순간을 만들어 보세요.

      싱가포르에서 형실주의가 강하기 때문에 한국어가 값진 과묵도 아니고 진지하게 공부하는 사람을 당연히 찾기 어려워요. 아무래도 힘을 내고 한국어를 더 깊이 알게 하도록 꾸준히 노력하세요. 마음 속에 가지는꿈을 이루실 때까지.

  15. 제가 더 노력해야 겠어요. ^^