Sunday, November 09, 2008

"동안" 대 "만에"

What is the difference between (시간) 동안 and (시간) 만에?

Nobody asked me this question. It was a question that I used to ask myself. There was a time when I could not tell them apart. The two grammars were confusing because both indicate time duration. But today, their difference is as clear as daylight to me.

(시간) 동안

The grammar "(시간) 동안" is elementary-level Korean. It simply means a period of time and we are interested in what goes on during this period of time. I believe every beginner should have no problem with this grammar because it is used commonly.


1년 동안 한국어를 공부했어요.
(I studied Korean for 1 year)

10년 동안 싱가포르에서 살았어요
(I lived in Singapore for 10 years)

(시간) 만에

The culprit responsible for causing the confusion is actually the grammar "(시간) 만에", introduced during intermediate-level Korean. While this grammar also indicates a period of time, we are actually not interested in what is going on during this period but rather what goes on after it. An important point to note is that whatever happens after that period of time, must also have happened before the time starts to lapse. See the examples below for better clarity. Otherwise, "(시간) 후에" may be more appropriate if you want to describe something that may not have happened before "after a period of time has lapsed".


1년 만에 좋은 친구를 만났어요.
(After 1 year (interval or lapse), I met my good friend (again).)
Full meaning of the sentence: The last time I met my good friend was 1 year ago. After 1 year interval (1년 만에), I met my good friend again.

3년 만에 한국어를 공부했어요.
(After 3 years (break), I studied Korean (again).)
Full meaning of the sentence: The last time I studied Korean was three years ago. Then I stopped for 3 years. After 3 years break (3년 만에), I studied Korean again.


  1. knowing 만에 is very useful *^^* thanks for the good explanation.

  2. 그 두 말 뜻의 차이를 설명해 주셔서 고마워요.

    바로 누나 말씀대로 "만에"라는 말은 난 좀 이해가 안 나요.

    BTW not too sure if I'm right in calling you 누나. Sorry if I got it wrong. :)

  3. 그냥, 이퀴녹이라고 부르면 돼요 ^^

  4. Woah this is really helpful, I've been trying to figure it out for some time. Thanks!

  5. I translated this post to Vietnamese, Thank you so much!

  6. One question then: What would be the difference between
    나는 십 년 만에 고향에 돌아가기로 했다.
    나는 십 년 후에 고향에 돌아가기로 했다. ?
    Don't they both describe that something happened after it didn't happen for some time?

    1. When you use "만에", you are implying you are going to continue with something you left behind 10 years ago. You don't just mean "I decided to return to hometown after 10 years", you are also trying to tell your listener that you will be continuing with something that you have stopped doing 10 years ago after returning to hometown.

      Using another example, when a singer who stopped singing for 3 years, decides to make a comeback to sing, you would say, "3년만에 컴백 예정이다". If you use "후에", it just means after 3 years, (the singer) is planning a comeback, period (and he may not be singing).

      Hope this helps.