Saturday, April 14, 2012

비슷해도 달라

Below are three common verbs which are similar in form:

1. 흘리다 → 흘려요
2. 흐르다 → 흘러요
3. 흐리다 → 흐려요

Without checking the dictionary, fill in the blank below with the correct verb:

A. 날씨가 _____
B. 눈물을 _____
C. 시간이 _____

If you're not confused, I am. Even with helping words, I am still not certain which goes where sometimes. 

For a long time, I was unable to resolve these three verbs because I never gave much thought to them. Sometimes I thought they were the same. Sometimes, I mistook one for the other. Not only do they look alike, the meaning of  '흘려요' and '흘러요' is also quite similar in a way. They both have something to do with the flow of liquid.

With the help of dictionary, it is quite clear the three verbs are different in meaning:

1. 흘리다 → 흘려요
Definition: 밖으로 내다
('come out' as in to shed or to spill)

2. 흐르다 → 흘러요
Definition: 높은 곳에서 낮은 곳으로 움직이거나 넘쳐서 떨어지다
(move, overflow or drop from a high place to a low place)
3. 흐리다 → 흐려요
Definition: 분명하지 않다
(not clear, blur)

Hence, the answers are: A(3), B(1), C(2)

These three verbs are one example of "I thought I know but I actually don't".


  1. So difficult! But (B) could be (2), like in the line '빗물이 흐르고 내 눈물도 흐르고' in the song '남행 열차' ...

    I guess 흘리다 and 흐르다 can both describe the flow of blood, sweat and tears, so they are very similar in those cases. Interesting to think about!

  2. I don't think you can use '흐르다' for B in this context because the particle is '을'. To use it, the particle has to be changed to '이' or in your example '도'.

    I guess you can say 눈물이 흐르다 (tears flow) or 눈물을 흘리다 (I shed tears). I am not an expert in this, just expressing my thought :)