Explaining Korean Grammar Using the Christmas Story, Part 1

Yesterday was Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that any of us are finished with Christmas. The meaning of Christmas goes on all year. It has such an astounding meaning that we can never leave it behind. I just finished explaining the Korean grammar in the Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, so I decided to go on to the Christmas story found in Matthew chapter 1, verses 18-25. I hope you are having a good holiday! (If you are just joining the Korean grammar blogs and don’t read the letters, look back through the blogs because there are two blogs teaching you to read the Korean letters.)

예수 그릿,도 나심 (the birth of Jesus Christ.)Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

Verse 18: 예수그리스도 의 나심은 이러하니라. 그의 오모니 마리아가 요셉과 약흔하고 동거하기 전에 송령으로 잉태된 것이 나타났더니.

예수 그리스도 의 나심은 – “The birth of Jesus Christ.” 예수 means “Jesus.” 그리수도 means “Christ.” 의 is a possessive, so it is like an apostrophe “s” : Jesus Christ’s. 나심 means “birth.” 은 is the post position particle that tells you that 예수 그리스도 의 나심 is the subject of the sentence.

이러 – “like this.” “이” means “this,” so since I know that 이러께 means “like this,” I assume that 러 must mean “like.” That 께 on the end turns 이러 into an adverb, but it is not an adverb here.

하니라 – “was.” There are so many, many verbs in Korean that can be used as our English “to be” verb, and here, they have used “하다” as the “to be” verb. “하다” usually means “to do” or “to make,” but it can also mean “to be,” and it does here. When you conjugate a Korean verb, you usually leave the first part of it alone and only conjugate the last part, so that 다 has been taken off and replaces with 니라. 니라 is an ending used only in a book, and perhaps only in the Bible. You won’t hear people using this ending when they speak. In the Korean Bible itself, there is no period after this verb because there are no periods in the Korean Bible. Koreans tell that it is the end of the sentence by the kind of verb ending that is used. This is an end of the sentence verb ending, and I added the period to help you understand better. 니라 is a past tense verb ending who level is coming from someone up high to someone down low. It means “was.” If you want to use 하다 and make it “was” in speech, say “했어요.” 했어요 and 하니라 mean the same thing. They are just different levels of speak. 했어요 is the level most people can sue with anyone, but if you are speaking with strangers or someone who deserves a lot of respect like a preacher, a professor, or some one else a lot older than you, use 합니다.

그의 어머니 마리아 ( His mother Maria) Photo by Jou00e3o Jesus on Pexels.com

그의 어머니 마리아 가 – “His mother, Maria.” 그 is the masculine singular pronoun. If it were the subject, it would be “he.” If it were the object, it would be “him.” However, it has 의 after it which means it is not a subject or an object, but a possessive pronoun, “his.” 어머니 means “mother.” 마리아 means “Mary.” 가 is the post position particle that tells you that 마리아 is the subject of the sentence.

그의 아보지 요셉 (His father Joseph) Photo by Nasser Almutairi on Pexels.com

요셉과 – ” and Joseph.” Okay, this makes it a big confusing because they put the 과 (and) after “Joseph,” but we would put that “and” between “Mary” and “Joseph.” This means that this sentence actually has a compound subject, Mary and Joseph, 마리아가 요셉.

약흔 했어요. (They were firmly promised.)Photo by Megapixelstock on Pexels.com

약흔하고 – “firmly promised, and” The verb for “promise” is 약속 하다. That 약 at the beginning of the word comes from 약속. 하고 makes 약흔 into a verb and puts “and” on the end. That “고” means “and.” “하고” is how you say “and” after a verb inside a sentence.

동거하기 전에 – “Before coming together.” 동거 하다 means “to bundle” or “to put together.” If you change the basic ending of 하다 to 하기, it can be either “to come together” or “coming together.” In this case, it is “coming together.” 전에 means “before,” and yes, it comes after and not before in Korean. More examples of this: 머기 전에 means “before eating.” 잠들기 전데 means “before sleeping.” 가기 전에 means “before going.”

송령으로 – “through the Holy Spirit.” 송령 means “holy spirit.” If you use the post position particle 로, it means “by way of” or “using” or “through.” The reasons 으 is between 송령 and 로 because 로 can’t come after a consonant because it begins with the consonant “ㄹ.” ㅇ at the end of a sentence is “ng.” After a consonant, you need a vowel, so they put 으 there to follow the rule.

마리아는 잌심 중이었어요. ( Mary was pregnant.)Photo by Gustavo Almeida on Pexels.com

잉태된 것이- “conceived thing.” When you see 된 in Korean, it means “become,” and the ㄴ on the bottom means that it has become an adjective. 되다 means “to become.” 잉태된 is an adjective meaning “became conceived.” 것 means “thing.” So, “the conceived thing.” 이 is the post position particle that means that “the thing conceived” is the subject.

나타났더니 – “appeared.” 나타나다 means “to appear.” The ㅆ tells you that it is past tense. The 더니 tells you that it is the last verb in the sentence, and that it is coming from a higher level to a lower level. This is not a level used in everyday speech, but in the Bible. To say “appeared” in everyday speech, say “나타났어요.” The 이 after 것 means “a thing appeared.”

Let’s put this all together:The birth of Jesus was like this. His mother Mary and Joseph were firmly promised, and before coming together, a thing conceived of the holy spirit appeared in her.”

.가난한 마리아 (Poor Mary) Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Can you imagine how Mary must have felt? If you were a young woman and had never slept with any man and found out you were pregnant, how do you think you would feel? It is a good thing that in other places in the Bible it says that an angel came to her first to tell her what was going to happen.

이것은 절벽 옷걸이예요. (This is a cliff hanger.)Photo by Marius Venter on Pexels.com

If we stopped with this verse, we would be leaving Mary in a lurch and never found out what happened to her, but the Bible doesn’t leave her in a lurch, and we will continue the blogs on the Korean grammar in the Christmas story in the next blog.

You learned a couple of very important things about Korean grammar in this verse:

1) 머기 전에 means “before eating.” 달리 전에 means “before running.” 잠들기 전에 means “before sleeping.” 동고 하기 전에 means “before coming together.” 하기 전에 means “before doing it.”

2) ㅆ means past tense. 갔어요 means “went.” 먹었어요 means “ate.” 왔어요 means “came.” 했어요 means “did.” 됐어요 means “became.” 읽었어요 means “read” (past). 말했어요 means “said” or “spoke.” 나다났어요 means “appeared.”

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