Lesson 70: Clause Connector: ~아/어(서)

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Vocabulary
Introduction

Clause Connector: ~아/어(서)
To learn from something: 통해
To hurry: 서두러

 

Vocabulary

Nouns:
정성 = effort, devotion
배낭 = backpack
서랍 = drawer
실종자 = missing person
지구본 = globe
구호 = relief, aid
연설 = speech
소매 = sleeve

Verbs:
뛰어다니다 = to run around an area
돌려보다 = to turn and look
알려주다 = to let somebody know
지켜보다 = to protect by watching (to watch over)
비켜서다 = to stand/step aside
올려놓다 = to place something on something
뛰어가다 = to run to (to go by running)
달려가다 = to run to (to go by running)
뛰어오다 = to come running
달려오다 = to come running
매혹하다 = to captivate
통하다 = to flow through, to move through
쭈그리다 = to crouch, to squat
맡다 = to smell
배신하다 = to betray
종합하다 = to put together, to synthesize
사로잡다 = to captivate
전력하다 = to try one’s best
마무리하다 = to finish off, to wrap up

Passive Verbs:
실종되다 = for a person to go missing

Adjectives:
평범하다 = to be ordinary, to be plain

Adverbs and Other Words:
스승의 날 = teachers day

For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.

 

Introduction

In this lesson, you will learn how to apply ~아/어(서) to sentences. Explaining this concept is probably the most difficult of all grammatical forms, simply because the meaning is so subtle. Nonetheless, this concept is very common, and needs to be explained. Let’s get started.

 

 

Clause Connector: ~아/어(서)

In Lesson 17, you learned about the grammatical principle ~고 and how it can be used to indicate that one clause (or action) happens after another. For example:

저는 밥을 먹고 갈 거예요 = I will eat then go

You also learned how it can be compared to ~아/어(서), which can also be added to sentences where one clause (or action) happens after another. For example, in Lesson 17 you saw the following simple example:

저는 당근을 칼로 잘라서 냉장고에 넣었어요
= I cut the carrots with the knife then put them in the fridge

저는 당근을 칼로 자르고 냉장고에 넣었어요
= I cut the carrots with the knife then put (them) in the fridge

In addition to its cause-and-effect meaning (which you learned about in Lesson 37), connecting two clauses with ~아/어(서) can have different meanings. Let’s look at each meaning individually:

 

An Intrinsic Temporal Relationship: ~/()
When ~아/어(서) is used to connect two clauses, the action in the first clause and the action in the second clause occur in the order in which they are said. This is the same as when ~고 is used, but there doesn’t need to be a direct connection between the actions in the two clauses when ~고 is used. For example:

저는 밥을 먹고 갈 거예요 = I will eat then go
저는 자고 한국어를 공부했어요 = I slept then studied Korean

In the above examples, aside from the fact that the first action and the second action occurred one after another, there is no direct relationship between the two actions. When you use ~아/어(서), however, there is more likely to be an intrinsic relationship between the two clauses. That is – not only did the second action happen after the first action, but the second action happened because the first action allowed it to.

In its simplest form, this is why (as you learned in Lesson 17) ~아/어(서) is often added to 가다 and 오다. The second action of the clause occurred only after/because the first clause allowed it to happen.

For example:

저는 학교에 가서 공부할 거예요 = I will go to school and then study
(“Studying” could not have happened if I didn’t go to the school, right?)

우리는 집에 와서 바로 잤어요 = We came home and went to sleep immediately
(“Sleeping” could not have happened if we didn’t come home, right?)

Below are some examples where you can see ~아/어(서) being used to connect two clauses:

The meaning of ~아/어 and ~아/어서 is identical in the following examples:

새로운 컴퓨터를 사 작업을 했어요
새로운 컴퓨터를 사서 작업을 했어요
= I bought a new computer, and then did my work (using that computer)

케이크를 만들어 친구들에게 나눠 줬어요
케이크를 만들어서 친구들에게 나눠 줬어요
= I made a cake, and then gave it (that cake) out to my friends

서랍을 열어 돈을 찾았어요
서랍을 열어서 돈을 찾았어요
= I opened the drawer and then found the money (in the drawer)

경찰관이 실종자를 찾아 집에 연락했어요
경찰관이 실종자를 찾아서 집에 연락했어요
= The police officer found the missing person and then contacted the house (of the missing person)

그는 고개를 들어 그녀를 바라봤어요
그는 고개를 들어서 그녀를 바라봤어요
= He lifted his head and stared at her

그는 자신의 아름다움에 매혹되어 결국 호수에 빠져 죽었다
그는 자신의 아름다움에 매혹되어서 결국 호수에 빠져 죽었다
= He was captivated by its beauty, and then he eventually drowned in the lake.

Here is a sentence that appeared on the cover of a Korean Cosmopolitan magazine:

IMG_0933

“원하는 일이 있다면 많은 사람들을 만나 관계를 형성하고 멘토를 찾으세요. 또 다른 기회가 열릴 겁니다.” = If you have something (a job) that you want to do, meet lots of people, and develop relationships, and search for a mentor. Another opportunity will be open.

In all of the cases above, ~고 can replace ~아/어(서). As I mentioned, you are more likely to find ~아/어(서) being used if you feel there is an intrinsic connection between the two clauses.

At this point, I would like to introduce you to a usage of ~아/어서 that you haven’t learned about yet.

 

 

 

 

An Action Happens Through the Means of Another Action: ~/어서
~아/어서 can be attached to a verb to indicate “how” or “through what means” a second action takes place. The simplest example you will find would be:

저는 걸어서 집에 갔어요 = I went home by walking (I walked home)

Here, ~아/어서 is added to 걷다 to indicate that the second action (going home) occurred by walking. In these types of sentences, where ~아/어서 is being used to indicate a “method” or “means,” “서” is not optional. The sentence above is not the same as this sentence:

저는 걸어 집에 갔어요

Here are two examples that are similar to examples introduced in the previous section, but modified to fit the usage of “through” instead of “and then:”

새로운 컴퓨터를 써서 문제를 풀었어요
= I solved the problem through/using a new computer

경찰관이 모여서 실종자를 찾았어요
= The police found the missing person through/by gathering (and looking for him/her together)

Below are many other examples. Notice how the first action is the method in which the second action occurs through.

슬기가 몸을 쭈그려서 예쁜 꽃의 향기를 맡아봤어요
= Seulgi crouched over and smelled the (fragrance of) the beautiful flowers

제가 당신을 위해 정성 들여서 만든 음식입니다
= This is a food that I made for you by putting all of my love/effort into it

대통령이 연설을 해서 청중을 사로잡았다
= The president captivated the audience through/with a speech

저는 전력을 다해서 이 일을 내일까지 마무리해 볼 거예요
= I will use all of my power and try to finish this work by tomorrow

몇 가지 예를 사용해서 설명했어요
= I explained it through many types of examples

지구본을 사용해서 지도를 그렸어요
= He used the globe to draw a map

우리는 힘을 다 합해서 일을 마무리했어요
= We put together all of our efforts and finished/wrapped up that job/task

Although I mentioned that “서” is not optional, you could also see sentences like this:

새로운 컴퓨터를 써 문제를 풀었어요
경찰관이 모여 실종자를 찾았어요
슬기가 몸을 쭈그려 예쁜 꽃의 향기를 맡아봤어요
제가 당신을 위해 정성 들여 만든 음식입니다
대통령이 연설을 해 청중을 사로잡았다
저는 전력을 다해 이 일을 내일까지 마무리해 볼 거예요
몇 가지 예를 사용해 설명했어요
지구본을 사용해 지도를 그렸어요
우리는 힘을 다 합해 일을 마무리했어요

What’s going on? I thought you said that the “서” was not optional? If it has to be included, why has it been omitted from the examples above?

There is a lot of overlap between the usages of ~아/어서 and ~아/어(서). The first one (where 서 is not optional) is used to indicate a method in which an action occurred. The second one (where 서 is optional) is used to indicate a direct temporal relationship.

The problem here is that the examples immediately above (which show a temporal relationship between two clauses) can also include 서 with no difference in meaning. For example:

새로운 컴퓨터를 써서 문제를 풀었어요
경찰관이 모여서 실종자를 찾았어요
슬기가 몸을 쭈그려서 예쁜 꽃의 향기를 맡아봤어요
제가 당신을 위해 정성 들여서 만든 음식입니다
대통령이 연설을 해서 청중을 사로잡았다
저는 전력을 다해서 이 일을 내일까지 마무리해 볼 거예요
몇 가지 예를 사용해서 설명했어요
지구본을 사용해서 지도를 그렸어요
우리는 힘을 다 합해서 일을 마무리했어요

Here, we have an incredibly ambiguous situation. What meaning is the speaker intending to make? I have had many discussions with Korean people about these types of sentences. For example, I would ask them about the specific meaning and feel of this sentence:

경찰관이 모여서 실종자를 찾았어요

I asked:

  • Did the police find the person through working/gathering together? Or
  • Did the police meet/gather together and then find the missing person?

The answer: The specific meaning is up to the speaker to make clear or for the listener to interpret. It may be unclear in the situation, or the context might be able to indicate the specific meaning. Either way, the result is usually the same.

There is a lot of overlap between these two usages. However, in some situations you will find that a meaning expressed by ~아/어서 cannot be expressed by ~아/어(서). This is an example that was presented above:

저는 걸어서 집에 갔어요 = I went home by walking (I walked home)

This sentence can only mean that the person went home by walking. It cannot mean that the person walked, and then went home. As such, the following sentence is incorrect:

저는 걸어 집에 갔어요

Now that we know all of that, let’s look at specific ways ~아/어(서) is often used.

 

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Used to combine the meanings of two words: ~/
You will often see two words combined with ~아/어 to combine their meanings. This compound word (or whatever you want to call it) can then be used anywhere in a sentence that a normal verb could be used. When used like this, “서” is not attached to ~아/어.

You first learned about these types of words in Lesson 15 with words like 들어가다 and 들어오다. However, in that lesson I wasn’t able to discuss how the words (like 들다 and 가다) are connected via ~아/어.

An example of a word where this is done is “뛰어다니다”

The word “다니다” means to go/walk around a place, and the word “뛰다” means to run. By combining these words with the use of “~아/어”, we create a word that combines the meanings of the two. Below are some examples of words where this is done:

걸어가다 = to go by walking (걷다 + 가다)
걸어오다 = to come by walking (걷다 + 오다)
다녀오다 = to go and then come back (다니다  + 오다)
뛰어다니다 = to run around an area (뛰다 + 다니다)
돌아보다 = to turn and look (돌다 + 보다)
알려주다 = to let somebody know (알리다 + 주다)
지켜보다 = to protect by watching (to watch over) (지키다 + 보다)
비켜서다 = to stand/step aside (비키다 + 서다)
올려놓다 = to place something on something (올리다 + 놓다)
뛰어가다 = to run to (to go by running) (뛰다 + 가다)
달려가다 = to run to (to go by running) (달리다 + 가다)
뛰어오다 = to come by running (뛰다 + 오다)
달려오다 = to come by running (달리다 + 오다)

The words above are all stand-alone verbs (albeit, created by connecting their meanings via ~아/어). The first three words in that list have already been introduced in the vocabulary lists of previous lessons. For example, 걸어가다and 걸어오다are introduced in Lesson 17. The remaining verbs in the list above have not been introduced in the vocabulary list of any lesson yet, so they are included in the vocabulary list of this lesson. Here are some examples of these verbs in sentences:

아이들이 놀이터에서 뛰어다녔어요 = The kids were running around the playground
제가 옷을 갈아입는 동안 돌아보지 마세요 = While I’m changing, don’t turn around
그 도시를 지구본에서 찾으면 저한테 알려주세요 = When you find that city on the globe, let me know
제가 잠깐 나갈 거라서 애기를 지켜봐 주세요 = I’m going to go out for a moment, so please watch the baby
사람이 갑자기 많이 와서 저는 그냥 비켜섰어요 = All of a sudden many people came, so I just stepped aside
방에 들어가서 책을 책상에 올려놓았어요 = I went into the room and put my book on the desk
너무 늦어서 학교에 뛰어갔어요 = I was very late, so I ran to school
너무 늦어서 학교에 달려갔어요 = I was very late, so I ran to school
어떤 사람이 저한테 뛰어왔어요 = Some person was (came) running towards me
어떤 사람이 저한테 달려왔어요 = Some person was (came) running towards me

Sometimes you will notice two verbs connected with ~아/어 with a space between the first and second verb. You don’t really need to distinguish between the two, but when there is a space it means that you are looking at two separate verbs that are being connected by ~아/어 to combine their meanings. If you do not see the space, you are looking at one word. Again, you don’t really need to worry about this, because Korean people often don’t know when to use the space or not. Nonetheless, here are some examples of two separate verbs being combined by ~아/어. Technically, these are not seen as standalone verbs and are therefore not included in any vocabulary lists.

걸어 다니다 = to walk around an area
돌려 보내다 = to send something back
주워 모으다 = to pick up and collect
뛰어 넘다 = to run/jump over something
꺼내 놓다 = to take out and put down
걸어 놓다 = to place something hanging/to hang up
결합해 만들어지다 = to be made through combining something
아껴 쓰다 = to save something (to use, but to save while using)
걷어 올리다 = to tuck up one’s sleeves/pants

Despite being two words, the fact that their meanings/usages combine often confuses Korean people and makes them think that they are one word. Either way, they can be used in sentences where the meaning of the whole construction wants to be expressed. For example:

우리는 서울에서 그냥 걸어 다녔어요 = We just walked around Seoul
너무 많으면 나머지를 돌려 보내도 돼요 = If it is too much, you can send the rest back
방에 있는 장난감을 다 주워 모으세요 = Pick up and collect all of the toys in your room
강아지가 울타리를 뛰어 넘었어요 = The dog ran/jumped over the fence
돈을 지갑에서 다 꺼내 놓았어요 = I took out all of the money from my wallet and put it (somewhere)
셔츠를 옷걸이에 걸어 놓았어요 = I hung/placed my shirt on the hanger
물은 산소와 수소로 결합돼 만들어진다 = Water is made from combining oxygen and hydrogen
이제부터 돈을 아껴 써야 돼요 = From now on, we need to save money (not use much money)
설거지를 하기 전에 소매를 걷어 올렸어요 = Before I did the dishes, I rolled up my sleeves

Before we finish, there are two specific words that often get connected to ~아/어(서), which I want to talk about.

 

 

The many meanings of 통하다

The word “통하다” has many meanings depending on the situation. Most of these meanings somehow relate to two things being connected, and there being a passageway or flow between those two things. When I first studied the meanings of 통하다, I always envisioned some sort of tube connecting the objects in question. Although kind of ridiculous, I always found it helpful to think about it like this.

Here are some of the many meanings 통하다 can have:

For something to be flowing (i.e. not blocked)
이 방은 공기가 잘 안 통해요 = Air doesn’t flow well in this room

For two places to be connected:
이 식당에 옆 식당과 통하는 길이 있어요 = There is a road/passage that connects this restaurant with the restaurant next door

To be able to understand what one is saying (usually 말이 통하다)
그 사람과 말이 안 통해서 그 사람을 이해할 수 없어요 = I couldn’t understand that person because I didn’t know what he was trying to say (couldn’t communicate with him)

To be known as some sort of position
한국에서 그 여자가 제일 예쁜 가수로 통한다 = That girl is known as the pretties singer in Korea

To have nothing to talk about/not talk very often:
우리 아빠가 죽은 후에 엄마랑 말이 잘 안 통해요 = Since our dad died, I haven’t had much to talk about with my mother (haven’t talked with my mother)

Okay… so why am I introducing 통하다 in this lesson?
통하다 has some usages where it is common to see it being used attached with ~아/어(서) to form 통해(서). In these cases, 통하다 usually translates to “through.” The following are some of these usages.

When you go “through” a place:
불이 나고 문이 막혀 있어서 창문을 통해 빠져나갔어요 = A fire started, and because the door was blocked, I escaped through the window

When you obtain (learn) something through some object:
교과서를 통해서 그 사실을 배웠다 = I learned that fact through (from) that book

When you obtain (learn) something through some process:
직접 해 본 실험을 통해서 과학에 관심이 생기기 시작했다 = I started to be interested in science through (from) doing experiments in person

Notice that each of these sentences could be expressed using other particles instead of using 통해(서). For example:

불이 나고 문이 막혀 있어서 창문으로 빠져나갔어요
= A fire started, and because the door was blocked, I escaped through the window

교과서로 그 사실을 배웠다
= I learned that fact through (from) that book

직접 해본 실험으로부터 과학에 관심이 생기기 시작했다
= I started to be interested in science through (from) doing experiments in person

One of the most common ways “통해(서)” is used is to indicate that one learns/receives/hears something “through/from” a person. Here are many examples:

친구를 통해 소문을 들었어요 = I heard a rumor from (through) my friend
저는 저의 여자 친구를 통해 한국말을 배웠습니다 = I learned Korean from (through) my girlfriend
저는 저의 교감선생님을 통해 한국말을 배웠습니다 = I learned Korean from (through) my Vice Principal
저는 친구를 통해 그 남자의 전화번호를 받았어요 = I got that man’s phone number from (through) a friend

As with above, each of those sentences could also be expressed using other particles:

친구에게서 소문을 들었어요 = I heard a rumor from my friend
저는 저의 여자 친구한테서 한국말을 배웠어요 = I learned Korean from my girlfriend
저는 저의 교감선생님에게서 한국말을 배웠습니다 = I learned Korean from my Vice Principal
저는 친구에게서 그 남자의 전화번호를 받았어요 = I got that man’s phone number from a friend

Let’s move on and talk about another word that is commonly used with ~아/어(서).

 

To hurry: 서두러

The verb “서두르다” means “to hurry” and can be used as a stand-alone verb. For example:

왜 이렇게 서둘러요? = Why are you rushing like this?
우리가 안 서둘렀더라면 늦었을 거예요 = If we didn’t rush, we would have been late

서두르다 is more commonly used before another verb connected with ~아/어(서). Here, the meaning of “rushing” is combined with the upcoming verb. For example:

우리는 서둘러 나갔어요 = We hurried (and went) outside
선생님은 서둘러 학생들에게 수업을 가르쳤어요 = The teacher hurried to teach his students the class
비가 와서 밖으로 나가서 서둘러 차로 뛰었어요 = I went outside and hurried to my car because it was raining

As you can see, the word 서둘러 doesn’t necessarily need to be in those sentences. All of those previous sentences would have essentially the same meaning if I were to write them as:

우리는 빨리 나갔어요
선생님은 학생들에게 수업을 빨리 가르쳤어요
비가 와서 밖으로 나가서 빨리 차로 뛰었어요

The usage of ~아/어(서) in Korean sentences is very ambiguous and takes a long time to fully grasp. With many Korean grammatical principles, the best/only way to completely understand a grammatical principle is to be exposed to it enough. The goal of this lesson was to explain ~아/어(서) so that when you are exposed to it, you will be able to extrapolate its meaning. After continuous exposure, your understanding of ~아/어(서) will become more and more natural.

That’s it for this lesson!

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