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Korean Lesson 70, “Because” and “Since”

I have begun trying to show you how the longer sentences are written in Korean. The basic sentence pattern is “subject +post position article + direct object + post position article + verb” or “subject + post position article + object of the preposition + preposition + verb.” However, there is a lot more to sentences, than these short basic sentences. There are two ways to say “because” in Korean, and one of those ways can also be used for “since.” When they use “because” is interesting because the sentence is so flipped around comparing to English. When we use “because” in a sentence in English, we begin with the conclusion, and then tell why. However, they tell why, and then give the conclusion.

The word that is only “because” is 대문에 (demoonay).

I teach because students want to learn. = 학생들이 배우고 십기대문에 가르쳐요. (hahkseng ee beh-oogoh sheepghee demoonay kahruchyoyo).

You can see the 대문에 (demoonay) in the middle of the sentence just like “because’ is in the middle of the sentence in English. However, this sentence begins with 학생들 (hahksengdul) which means “students” and not with “I” like in English. In fact, I completely left “I” out of the Korean sentence because it is implied because I am a teacher. The verb that goes with “students” is 배우고 십– (beh oo go sheep—-), meaning “want to learn.” Only the stem is used, and the ending is left off because it is inside of the sentence, and then 기 (ghee) is added to it, and then 대문에 (demoonay) which means “because” is used. After that, the conclusion is stated 가르쳐요 (kahruchyeoyo) which means “I teach.” The sentence says “Because students want to learn, I teach.” We can say it like that in English, but usually not.

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Here is another example of 대문에:

I sleep because I am tired. = 피곤 하기 대문에 자요. (peegon hahghee demoonay jah-yo).

Again, this sentence begins at the end in Korean. They begin by saying “because I am tired,” and then say “I sleep.” We usually begin with the conclusion to the matter and then explain it, but the Koreans want to explain themselves first. 피고 해요 (peegon heyo) is how you say “I am tired.” Again, the subject is left out, so according to the context, it could be anyone. You guess from the context. They don’t conjugate the 해요 (heyo) part when it is used inside of the sentence, so they use the 하다 (hahdah) form instead of the 해요 (heyo) form. They take the 다 (dah) off, and then add 기 (ghee), and then the put 대문에 (demoonay) which means ‘because.” They give the reason first, and then the conclusion. The conclusion is 자요 (jahyo) which means “I sleep,” but you are actually going to have to guess at the subject because it is left out again. Again in English, we are saying, “Because I am tired, I sleep.”

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I eat because I am hungry. = 배고 파기 대문에 먹어요. (beh-goh-pah-ghee demoonay meokeoyo)

Here is another example. To say “I am hungry,” they usually say 배고 파요 (begoh pah-yo) which literally means, “my stomach is empty.” Again, they begin with the conclusion, so they begin with 패고파요, but they leave the 요 (yo) off because you use only the stem of the verb. After that, they put 기 (ghee) again, and then they put 대문애 (demoonay) which means “because.” After that, they put the conclusion that we usually put first in English. The conclusion is 먹어요 (meogeoyo) which means “I eat,” and again, the subject is left out. Literally, they are saying “Because I am hungry, I eat.” As an English professor, I actually discourage students from using this form with the sentence beginning with “because” in their essays because students have the tendency to make incomplete sentences when they begin with the conclusion, and then the sentence becomes grammatically incorrect. When I graded the Korean student’s papers, they often wanted to make incomplete sentences beginning with “because” in English. It is fine to say “because I am hungry” if someone verbally asks us a question, and that is the answer, but it is an incomplete sentence that can’t be used in an essay.

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The word ending that can be translated at “because” or “since” is 어서. When you begin speaking Korean more, you will feel this word when you hear it because they always give you the conclusion first, and then explain. You will see it in other forms, but the 서 will always be there.

I am late because the bus was late. / or–Since the bus was late, I am late. = 버수가 늦어서 내가 늦었어요. (beosoo gah nujeoseo negah nujeosseoyo)

You can see the 어서 (eoseo) in the middle of the sentence that means “because” or “since.” It comes after the reason for being late. They explain themselves first, then give the conclusion. We do that more when we use “since” than ‘because,” bus both ways are right in English. My students said this to me often. The verb for “to be late” is one of those adjective style verbs, and it is 늦다 (nujdah). When we arrive and say we are late, we use the simple present tense, but they don’t. They use the simple past tense. (Korean busses are not late, but Korean students are a lot. The busses run on a regular schedule, and if the students catch them when they should, they can arrive at the right time.) When students came in late, the would say 눚었어요 (nujeosseoyo) which literally means “I was late,” but we would say “I am late” in English. 버구 (beosoo) is the word for “bus,” in Korean, so you can see that the sentence begins with the reason again. Even though the bus was late in the past, they are going to say it in the present tense. Their ways of thinking about things are slightly different from ours. Maybe they think this way because the bus is still running. The don’t put “was late” into past tense, rather, they just take the ending off and keep just the stem, and then put 어서 (eoseo), the conjunction that means either “since” or “because.” After that, they end the sentence with “늦었어요” (nujeosseoyo) which we would translate as “I am late,” but the grammar is in past tense rather than simple present tense. Every language has different categories of thought, and this is one that is different between English and Korean.

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My friend knows many things because she reads a lot./ or–Since my friend reads a lot, she knows many things. = 나의 친구그는 많이 읽어서 많은 것을 알아요. (nah oo-ee cheengoo nun manee eelk eoseo manun geotul ahlah-yo)

Again, you can translate this 어서 (eoseo) as either “because” or “since.” They begin with the conclusion like we do when we use “since,” However, 어서 (eoseo) is in the middle of the sentence like “because” rather than like “since” which is at the beginning.

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Since he speaks Korean, his life is easier./ or –His life is easier because he speaks Korean. = 그는 한극 말을 말해서 그의 인생이 더 쉬어요 (kunun hanguk mal ul malheso ku oo-ee eenseng ee deo shoo-eeeoso)

Again, they begin with explanation or reason like we do when we begin with “since,” and then give the conclusion. By this time, everyone should know the word 말하다 (mal hahdah) which means, “speak, say, or talk.” Just like when we conjugate 말하다 into simple present and past tense, the 하다 changes. You say 해서, and it is the 어서 or 에서 form that means “since” or “because.” It is this way for every verb that ends with 하다.

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