Explaining Korean Grammar in the Christmas Story, Part 3

Yes, the Christmas holiday has come and gone, but the story of Christ goes on, and Christianity goes on forever. It doesn’t have to be Christmas time to talk about the birth of Jesus. We are working out of Matthew chapter one. We have already talked about verses 18 and 19. We seem to go at a snail’s pace through the chapter because we only take one verse at a time. I know that Korean grammar isn’t easy for English speakers, so we are going slow, and we are slowly getting one of the most wonderful stories ever told.

마리아 가 임신 돼요. (Mary is pregnant.)Photo by Gustavo Almeida on Pexels.com

So far, in the story, Mary has come up pregnant through the Holy Spirit. She is engaged to marry Joseph. Joseph’s reaction was what you would expect because he knew the baby wasn’t his. He loved her, but he knew he needed to separate himself from her, but it presented problems. In the time of Jesus, if a woman was pregnant and unmarried, they could have stoned her to death. It was part of the culture. People were kept in line, sometimes severely. Joseph was really bothered, and now we go on to verse 20.

여샙이 생각 하고 있었어요. (Joseph was thinking.)Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Verse 20: 이 일을 생각 할때 주의 사자가 현몽하여 이르된 다윗의 자손 요샙아 네 아내 마리아 데려오기를 무서워하지 말라 그에게 잉태 된 자는 성령으로 된 것이라

이 일을 생각 할때 – “When he thought about these things.” As I have explained many times before, things seem backwards in Korean as compared to English because we begin the when clause with “when,” but their “when” (때) doesn’t come until the end of the when clause. the first word in this Korean when clause is 이 which means “this” or “these.” Korean makes no difference in the number as we do in English. 이 can be used as singular or plural. 일 is the next word. 일 can mean either “work.” “thing,” or “things.” Since there is the post position particle 을 after 일, we know 일 is a noun because 을 comes after direct objects. A direct object is either a noun or a pronoun. This means that 일 means “thing” or “things.” Again, in Korean, even though they have a post position particle that makes a noun plural, they don’t always use it even if the word is supposed to be plural. Korean is much less specific than English. This makes 이 일을 to mean “these things.” The sentence was begun with a direct object. We never do that in English. 생각 means “thought,” and 생각 하다 means “to think.” Since we have a verb, it means it is the end of the clause. If you use 때 (when), the verb before it need “ㄹ.” To give 하다 the ㄹ, you have to take the 다 off and replace it with ㄹ. If this when clause were translated word by word without changing the word order, you would have.” these (or this) things (or thing) think when.” It seems the subject has been left out which is normal in Korean. In Korean, often, you have to assume from the context who the subject is. In this case, we know we are talking about Joseph because the previous verse was talking about him, so we give the subject “he.”

여샙이 잠을 자고 있어요. (Joseph was sleeping.)Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

주의 사자가 현몽하여 이르된 – “The Lord’s angel said through a dream.” 주 means “Lord.” 의 is the post position particle that is like the English apostrophe “s.” It is a possessive. 사자 means “angel.” 가 is a post position article or particle that is for the subject. Since 사자 ends with a vowel, it is the right article to use. If the subject ends with a consonant, then you would use 이. In English, we would next need a verb, but next in Korean, there is a prepositional phrase. 하여 (through, for, or in order to) is the preposition, but even it is not next. The object of the preposition 현몽(dream) comes next. This means that 현몽하여 means “through a dream.” 이르 된 (said) is next, and it is the verb. 이르된 is not the form that is used at the end of the sentence, but at the end of a clause inside the sentence.

시자는 녀샙에게 말앴어요. (And angel spoke to Joseph.)Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

다윗의 자손 요샙아 – “Joseph, descendent of David.” 다윗 means David. Again, 의 is the post position particle that is the same as the apostrophe “s” in English. 자곤 means descendent. 요샙 means Joseph. 아 means he is talking to Joseph.

네 아내 마리아 대려오기를 무서워 하지 마라 – “Don’t be afraid to come and take Mary your wife.” Again, this clause has completely different word order as English. If we want to tell someone “don’t do that” in Korean, we should say 하지 마 or 하지마새요. The second one is much more polite, but the teachers often use 하지 마 with the children to be more strict. If it is 하지마라 it is a level that is coming from a person in a high station to a person in a low station, and it also means “don’t do it.” The angel is telling Joseph not to be afraid, and if you want to say you are afraid, you say 무서워요. You can also just put a question mark on the end to ask if someone is afraid. 무서워요 is a verb that is used at the end of a sentence, but if you want to use it inside a sentence, you must use 무서워 which is what is used here. 무서워 하지 마새요 would be a very comforting way for you to say “Please don’t be afraid.”

사자응 여샙에게 마리아를 굘훈 하세요 라고 말 했어요. (The angel said to Joseph, “Marry Mary.”Photo by Sokol Laliçi on Pexels.com

Now. let’s go to this beginning of the Korean clause. 네 means “you” or “your,” and in this case, it means “your.” 아내 means “wife.” 마리아 means “Mary,” so 네 아내 마리아 means “your wife Mary.” 대려오기 comes from 대리다 which means “take a person,” and “오기” means “to come” and comes from 오다 or 와요. 오다 is the form you would see in books because it has 다 on the end. If you use it in speaking, it is considered harsh, so when you speak, say 와요 which means the same thing, “come or comes.” Sometimes in Korean, they mesh two verbs together to make a new one, and they have meshed 대리다 and 오다 together and conjugated them. Meshed together, they become “to come and take.” The 를 after 대리오기 means that 네 아내 마리아 대리오기 is a direct object clause. To find a direct object, you have to ask the question “what?” “What should Joseph no be afraid of?” He should not be afraid of coming and taking Mary as his wife, which is the Korean clause, not just a word this time.

그에게 잉태된 자는 – “the one that was conceived to her.” They have translated 그 which is often a masculine pronoun as “her” again. Pronouns are not really that important at times to Koreans. 그녀에게 is what I would have written because I am an American speaking Korean, and I will be more specific, but a Korean, at times, will use 그에게 as “to him” or “to her.” That 에게 is the post position preposition that means “to a person.” That means that 그 is the object of the preposition. 잉태된 means “conceived.” You can see the 된 on the end of it. That 된 was also on 이르된 above. 된 actual means “become,” and it is in the adjective form which means it describes what comes next. 자 can mean many things, but here, it is either a noun or a pronoun because 된 comes before it and 는 comes after it. I chose to translate it as “the one.” This one is the subject.

마리아의 아기는 성령에서 욌어요 (The baby came from the Holy Spirit.)Photo by Hakan Tahmaz on Pexels.com

성령으로 – “through the Holy Spirit.” 성령 means Holy Spirit. 로 is a post position particle that functions as a preposition in English that can mean “through” or “using.” 으 is there because 서령 ends with a consonant and 로 begins with the consonant. You just can’t do that in Korean, so you need a vowel between them. The vowel they use is 으.

된 것 이라 – “is what became.” 된 means “became.” 된 is an adjective. 것 means “thing,” so 된 것 means “the thing that became.” 이라 comes from 이다 or 이예요 which is the “be” verb that means that something exists, “is.” 이라 is the form that is used at the end of the sentence and it is the level that is speaking from a high point to a low point. If you use this verb, use 이예요. This is the main verb, so in English, it won’t be at the end of the sentence.

Let’s put this all together: “When he thought about these things, he Lord’s angel said to him in a dream, “Don’t be afraid to come and take Mary your wife it has become that the one that is conceived to her is through the Holy Spirit.”

사자는 사랑로 말헀어요. (The angel spoke through love.) 사자는친졸했어요. (The angels was kind.) Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

With that verb 내려어기 (come and take). I hear encouragement from the angel. The angel told Joseph not to be afraid, and then he seems to encourage him. There is a softness here that goes beyond just the explaining that we get in English. At time, the Korean leaves things out, and we have to guess, but at times, it can give you emotions just through the words better than English. I get the impression that the angel was kind to Joseph even though he was above Joseph and talked from a position from above. We can be above someone and still be kind to them.

You learned some important grammatical concepts in Korean in this verse.

1) 돼다 is the verb that 된 comes from. 돼다 or 돼요 literally translates as “become.” However, it is often not just used as “become.” When I see 돼다 or hear 돼요, I think of it as a state of being verb (a “be” verb) in Korean because it is used that way more often than with the meaning “become.” If you need to put 돼다 in an adjective form, use 됀

집에 가요. (She goes home.)Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

2) There is more than one way to say “to” in Korean. If it is “to” a place, say “에.” If it is “to” a person, say “에게.” 나에게 means “to me.” “너 에게” means “to you.” However, 집에 means “to home” or “at home.”

그녀는 그녀에게 성물을 줘요. (She gives a gift to her.)(She gives her a gift.) Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

3) You can say “take” in more than one way. There is a difference between “take a thing” and “take a person.” If you want to say, “I take a book,” say “책을 가져가요.” 가져 comes from. 가지다 which means “have or has.” 가요 comes from 가다 which means “go or goes.” Again, two verbs are meshed together to make “have” and “go” into “take.” If you take something with you, say 가져가요. If you take a person with you, use “대리다.” If I say, “I take my daughter,” I say, “나의 딸을 대려요.” 대려요 is the form to use when you speak that means “take or takes a person.”

그들은 아기 를 어긴소녀과 대려요 (They take a baby and a little girl.)Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. on Pexels.com
그녀는 가방을 가지고가요. (She takes a bag.)Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

3) Koreans love scary movies, and the girls like to play “damsel in distress.” I often heard the word 무서워요 which means “I’m scared” from the girls at KCU. They were playing, but I did learn that many of them believe in ghosts, and I was surprised. One girl told me her dead grandmother was with her all the time. A boy told me that when his grandfather died, he say his grandfather’s ghost walking in the street. I didn’t contract any of them, but I had my own opinion of what I thought they saw. Scary movies are very popular in Korea. 무 서 운 is the adjective form of 무 서 워 요.

한국인 이 무서운 영화를 조아해요. (Koreans like scary movies.)Photo by Asafath on Pexels.com

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