Yesterday I began exploring how to play around with time in Korean beginning with 동안. I then mentioned today’s topic -(으)면서 which is very similar to 동안. It is pretty similar, but different at the same time. Let’s explore it.

The How of  -(으)면서

To use the grammar pattern -(으)면서 you need to take the verb stem of an action verb. Then take a look whether it ends in a vowel or not. If it ends in a vowel or you attach -면서 to it. However, if the verb stem ends in a consonant you attach -으면서. However, keep in mind that some irregular verbs behave differently when confronted with a verb ending starting with 으:

Please note that this pattern is only used with verbs and not adjectives.

Furthermore the verb that uses -(으)면서 is always written in the present tense, meaning it cannot use time markers such as -었/-았.

A summary on the time Expressions: -(으)면서
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동안 VS -(으)면서

Like 동안, you can translate the pattern -(으)면서 as “while”. However that is also pretty much where most similarities stop.

You use this pattern, contrary to 동안, when one person, meaning one subject, performs simultaneously. Therefore you cannot use this to describe what is happening around the subject while it is doing something.