Korean Grammar – Conjecture

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We have seen a lot of way how to express conjecture in Korean, it is time to do a recap and go over the major differences between the various ways to express your suppositions. Remember while all these grammar patterns are ways to express conjecture, they are all different with their own unique uses.

Here we won’t be going into how you ‘conjugate’ using the conjecture grammar patterns. We will be going over the major differences in meaning of them. If you want to know how to attach them to words, simply go to each page.

The Intuitive Conjecture: -겠다

Intention and Conjecture: -겠다
The Intuitive Conjecture: -겠다

The first supposition grammar pattern is -겠다, which is used for intuitive, near instantaneously formed supposition. It is used when you make a supposition without a real basis that makes you think your supposition true except your first impression.

Let’s go over a few scenarios:

  1. Imagine you are in a restaurant and the waiter just brought your main course which seems delicious. Without taking a bite, you can say: “맛있겠어요” or “It looks delicious”.
  2. Imagine you are walking down the street and you see a poster of a recently released movie. You can then point to the poster and proclaim: “재미있겠어요” or It looks interesting.”

Both examples share one common element: The reactions are instantaneous and based solely on a first impression.

Lastly, I want to remind you that 겠다 is also used to express your intentions among other things beside conjecture.

The Informed Conjecture: -(으)ㄹ 거예요

Tense and Conjecture: -(으)ㄹ 거예요
The Informed Conjecture: -(으)ㄹ 거예요

Next up is the conjecture pattern -(으)ㄹ 거예요. You use this grammar pattern to express your suppositions you make based on information you already know. The information is either obtained true personal knowledge or careful consideration of what you can see or hear at that moment. You are though more certain about the truthfulness of your supposition because of that information.

Let’s go over a scenarios:

  1. A) 식당의 음식이 맛있을까요?
    B) 손님이 많으니까 음식이 맛있을 거예요.
  2. A) 댄 씨에게 CD를 주면 좋아할까요?
    B) 매일 음악을 들으면서 다니니까 좋아할 거예요.

In the first scenario you are pretty sure the food at the restaurant will be good. You think so because you see a lot of customers. You base your supposition on something you have observed and thus use  -(으)ㄹ 거예요. In the second you answer Dan will enjoy getting a CD because he listens to it every day when going to work. You give your thoughts based on your knowledge and thus you use -(으)ㄹ 거예요 too.

Lastly, the grammar pattern -(으)ㄹ 거예요 is also the Korean future tense and thus is used to not only express conjecture.

The Subjective Conjecture: -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다

Conjecture: -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다
The Subjective Conjecture: -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다

The third pattern is -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다. This conjecture pattern is a kind that is between the intuitive -겠다 and the informed -(으)ㄹ 거예요. Conjectures expressed with -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다 are intuitive, but unlike -겠다 not instantaneous as you still take time to carefully consider your thought before expressing it.

Let’s go over a few scenarios:

  1. 지금 비가 오는 것 같아요.
  2. 오늘 댄 씨는 기분이 좋은 것 같아요.

The first sentence is an intuitive, yet still based on an observation. You think it is raining because you see people leaving with rain coats and umbrellas. The second is similar because Dan is all smiles the entire day, you make the supposition he is in a good mood.

Choosing the right conjecture pattern can be difficult sometimes. However, there is a simple solution for that problem. When you doubt whether you can use either -겠다 or -(으)ㄹ 거예요, you can simply use -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다! The middle road is often a good alternative when in doubt.

Lastly, -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다 is also a way to express things non-assertively and is thus often used out of politeness.

The Conjecture Question: -(으)ㄹ까요

Suggestions and Conjecture: -(으)ㄹ까요
The Conjecture Question: -(으)ㄹ까요

The last conjecture pattern we need to discuss is -(으)ㄹ까요. This pattern is a bit different from the rest though and is why I gave it a special place at the end of this article. Unlike the previous grammar pattern, -(으)ㄹ까요 is used interrogatively. You make a supposition in question form either in your mind or to someone else to hear his thoughts on it.

When you use it as a question, the other person will answer most likely with either -(으)ㄴ/는/(으)ㄹ 것 같다 or  -(으)ㄹ 거예요; depending on how certain he or she is about their supposition. Those two are not exclusive, other verb endings can be used as well.

Let’s see an example:

  • A: 요즘 꽃을 비쌀까요?
    B: 졸업 테니까 비쌀 거예요.

Here we ask whether the listener thinks flowers will be expensive at the moment. He or she responds she suppose they will be expensive because it is graduation time.

Lastly, -(으)ㄹ까요 is besides an interrogative way to express conjecture, also a way to make suggestions.

Short Conjecture Recapitulation

Korean Grammar Overview: Conjecture
A short overview on conjecture expression in Korean and their differences.

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April 22, 2017

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