Lesson 75: I don’t care: 신경 안 쓰다

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Vocabulary
Introduction

The meaning of 신경
I (don’t) care: 신경 (안) 쓰다
I care: 신경을 쓰다

 

Vocabulary

Nouns:
신경 = nerve, care, concern
문서 = document
씨앗 = seed
철사 = wire
입시 = entrance exam
지옥 = hell
= bee
과외 = private tutoring
법원 = court of law
물집 = blister
엄지 = thumb
금속 = metal
본능 = instinct
단점 = flaw, weak point
장점 = pro, strong point
우측 = right
좌측 = left
저번 = the last (like 지난)
맞은편 = opposite side
건너편 = opposite side

Verbs:
삼키다 = to swallow
접다 = to fold, to collapse
이발하다 = to get a haircut
포장하다 = to pack up

Adverbs and Other Words:
본능적으로 = instinctively

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

 

Introduction

In this lesson, you will learn how to use “신경 (안) 쓰다” to say “I care” or “I don’t care.” In order to create this meaning, the process is similar to what you learned in the previous lesson, where you learned how to say “It is irrelevant…” Let’s get started.

 

 

The meaning of 신경

The first thing you need to know is the meaning of “신경.” 신경 can be used to refer to nerves, or something related to the nervous system. When used to have this meaning, it is usually used in medical or scientific conversations. Therefore, as a learner of Korean you don’t really need to worry too much about this usage yet. Nonetheless, it is good to get familiar with it a little bit. Here are some words that contain “신경” within them and refer to the medical/scientific usage of “nerves:”

신경계 = nervous system
반사신경 = reflex, reflexes
감각신경 = sensory nerves (감각 means “sense”)
척수신경 = spinal nerves (척수 means “spinal cord”)

Etc…

신경 can also be used to refer to one’s thoughts or feelings towards a subject. In English, it is similar to the meaning of “caring” about something, as in the examples below:

I don’t care if you go
I don’t care about money
I don’t care how much you eat

The word “care” would translate to “신경” in these cases. In this lesson, I want to talk about how we can use the word “신경” to create sentences like three you see above.

 

To (not) care: 신경 () 쓰다

You learned already that “신경” is used to mean “care” in sentences. However, while “to care” is a verb in English and can predicate sentences, 신경 is a noun in Korean. The verb that commonly acts on 신경 to indicate that “one cares” about something is 쓰다. For example:

신경을 쓰다 = to care
신경을 안 쓰다 = to not care

The negative “신경을 안 쓰다” is much more common than its positive counterpart, so I will introduce this first.

When you are just talking about not caring about a noun, you can attach “에 대해” to the noun that you do not care about. For example:

저는 돈에 대해 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care about money
저는 그에 대해 별로 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t really care about that
그는 자기 아버지에 대해 신경을 안 써 = He doesn’t care about his father
입시 시험 점수에 대해 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care about my score on the entrance exam
저는 천국과 지옥에 대해 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care about heaven or hell

그 후보자의 장점과 단점에 대해 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care about that candidate’s strong points or weak points

남자들은 본능적으로 자기 패션에 대해 신경을 안 써요
= Men instinctively don’t care about their fashion

In sentences like these, it is also possible to simply attach ~to the noun instead of ~에 대해. I’ve asked many Korean people, and they say that both are understandable. However, more people said that using ~에 대해 is more natural.

Particles are often omitted from sentences in speech. ~ is very commonly omitted from 신경.

You can use ~는 것 to change a clause into a noun, and then state that one does not care about that clause (for example: I don’t care if you listen to me). For example:

나는 네가 공부를 안 하는 것에 대해 신경을 안 써
= I don’t care if you don’t study

내일 법원에 가야 되는 것에 대해 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care if I have to go to the court tomorrow

나는 나의 여자 친구가 많이 먹는 것에 대해 신경을 안 써
= I don’t care if my girlfriend eats a lot

저의 엄지손가락에 물집이 있는 것에 대해 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care if I have a blister on my thumb

대부분 사람들은 벌이 계속 없어지는 것에 대해 신경을 안 써요
= Most people don’t care about/if bees continue to disappear

우리 가게 맞은편에 다른 가게가 생기는 것에 대해 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care if another store opens (pops up) across the street from our store

Instead of ~에 대해, I have also heard Korean people place ~을/를 after the thing that they don’t care about. For example:

나는 네가 공부를 안 하는 것을 신경을 안 써

Korean people say this sounds okay, but I don’t like how the word “쓰다” acts on two objects. I recommend that you use ~에 대해 or ~ as is shown in this lesson.

If the clause that you do not care about contains a question word, you can attach ~는지 (which was introduced in Lesson 30) to the clause. For example:

그 문서를 언제 낼지 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care when you submit that document
나는 네가 어디 가는지 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care where you go
나는 이게 얼마나 비싼지 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care how expensive it is
네가 저번 주에 뭐 했는지 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care what you did last week
그 씨앗을 어디에 심는지 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care where you plant those seeds
그 선물을 어떻게 포장하는지 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care how you package/wrap that present
제가 이발을 할 때 아주머니가 저의 머리를 어떻게 자르는지 신경을 안 써요 = When I get my hair cut, I don’t care how the woman cuts my hair

Notice that these examples are very similar in meaning (and construction) to using 상관없다, which you learned in the previous lesson.

그 문서를 언제 낼지 상관없다 = It doesn’t matter when you submit that document
나는 네가 어디 가는지 상관없다 = It doesn’t matter where you go
나는 이게 얼마나 비싼지 상관없다 = It doesn’t matter how expensive it is
네가 저번 주에 뭐 했는지 상관없다 = It doesn’t matter what you did last week
그 씨앗을 어디에 심는지 상관없다 = It doesn’t matter where you plant those seeds
그 선물을 어떻게 포장하는지 상관없다 = It doesn’t matter how you wrap that present
제가 이발을 할 때 아주머니가 저의 머리를 어떻게 자르는지 상관없다 = When I get my haircut, it doesn’t matter how the woman cuts my hair

Just like in sentences with “상관없다,” you can also use the grammatical principle ~아/어도 on the clause that you do not care about. For example:

그 문서를 언제 내도 신경을 안 써요
나는 네가 어디 가도 신경을 안 써
나는 이게 얼마나 비싸도* 신경을 안 써
네가 저번 주에 뭐 했어도 신경을 안 써
그 씨앗을 어디에 심어도 신경을 안 써요
그 선물을 어떻게 포장해도 신경을 안 써요
제가 이발을 할 때 아주머니가 저의 머리를 어떻게 잘라도 신경을 안 써요

*This sounds slightly more natural as “나는 이게 많이 비싸도 신경을 안 써.” This will be explained in a moment.

The meaning that is created when ~아/어도 is used instead of ~는지 is subtly different. Allow me to explain by comparing these two sentences:

나는 네가 어디 가는지 신경을 안 써
나는 네가 어디 가도 신경을 안 써

In Lesson 25, I discussed the idea of using a question word to refer to ambiguous things. For example, the following sentence – depending on the intonation – could mean two different things:

뭐 먹었어요? = What did you eat?
뭐 먹었어요? = Did you eat something?

In the first example, it is known that the person ate, and the question is about what was eaten. However, in the second example, the question is about whether or not the person ate.

When ~아/어도 is used in sentences with 신경을 쓰다 as shown above, the speaker is indicating that he/she doesn’t care if the action was done or not. For example:

나는 네가 어디 가는지 신경을 안 써
In this sentence, I am indicating that I don’t care where you go. I know you will go somewhere, but I don’t care where that is. This could be translated to “I don’t care where you go.”

나는 네가 어디 가도 신경을 안 써
In this sentence, I am indicating that I don’t care if you go somewhere. Here, “어디” acts as an “ambiguous place” (as I like to call it). At the point when I say this sentence, I’m not even sure if you will go or not. This could be translated to “I don’t care if you go somewhere.”

Look at the other translations to try to make this distinction more clear in your brain:

그 문서를 언제 낼지 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care when you submit that document
그 문서를 언제 내도 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care if you submit that document any time

나는 이게 얼마나 비싼지 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care how expensive it is
나는 이게 얼마나 비싸도 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care if it is very expensive
In this case, the word “많이” could be used to state this meaning more clearly:
나는 이게 많이 비싸도 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care if it is very expensive

네가 저번 주에 뭐 했는지 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care what you did last week
네가 저번 주에 뭐 했어도 신경을 안 써 = I don’t care if you did anything last week

그 씨앗을 어디에 심는지 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care where you plant those seeds
그 씨앗을 어디에 심어도 신경을 안 써요 = I don’t care if you plant those seeds somewhere

그 선물을 어떻게 포장하는지 신경을 안 써요
그 선물을 어떻게 포장해도 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care how you package/wrap that present

제가 이발을 할 때 아주머니가 저의 머리를 어떻게 자르는지 신경을 안 써요
제가 이발을 할 때 아주머니가 저의 머리를 어떻게 잘라도 신경을 안 써요
= When I get my hair cut, I don’t care how the woman cuts my hair

(I find it very difficult to distinguish the final two examples because 어떻게 doesn’t really refer to something ambiguous)

~아/어도 …신경(을) 안 써 can also be used in sentences without question words. For example:

나는 네가 공부를 안 해도 신경을 안 써
= I don’t care if you don’t study

내일 법원에 가야 되어도 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care if I have to go to the court tomorrow

나는 나의 여자 친구가 많이 먹어도 신경을 안 써
= I don’t care if my girlfriend eats a lot

저의 엄지손가락에 물집이 있어도 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care if I have a blister on my hand

대부분 사람들은 벌이 계속 없어져도 신경을 안 써요
= Most people don’t care about/if bees continue to disappear

우리 가게 맞은편에 다른 가게가 생겨도 신경(을) 안 써요
= I don’t care if another store opens (pops up) across the street from our store

In Lesson 58, you learned about ~거나 and how it typically translates to “or.” I made a distinction between using ~거나 once in a sentence, and using it twice (I encourage you to go back and read this observation I made). It is common to add ~거나 to two options within a sentence and then followed by “신경 안 쓰다.” The whole sentence can mean that one does not care if “one or the other” occurs. For example:

돈을 벌거나 잃거나 나는 신경을 안 써
= I don’t care if I earn money or lose it

우리가 먹거나 안 먹거나 나는 신경을 안 써
= I don’t care if we eat or don’t eat

네가 우측으로 가거나 좌측으로 가거나 나는 신경을 안 써
= I don’t care if you go right or left

과외를 하거나 스스로 공부하거나 저는 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care if I get tutored or study by myself

내일 주식이 떨어지거나 오르거나 신경을 안 써요
= I don’t care if the stocks go down or up tomorrow

Let me talk about how to say “one cares” (instead of “one does not care”) in the next section.

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To care:  신경을 쓰다

It is very common in Korean to use “신경 안 쓰다” to indicate that one “does not care” about something. However, it is not as common to indicate that one “cares” about something by creating a positive version of this sentence.

For example, this is a sentence that we learned earlier using “신경을 안 쓰다:”

그는 자기 아버지에 대해 신경(을) 안 써 = He doesn’t care about his father

However, eliminating the “안” to create the positive version of this sentence is slightly unnatural. For example:

그는 자기 아버지에 대해 신경 써

Korean people don’t usually express this type of sentence using “신경 쓰다.” Instead, it would be more natural to create this meaning using another type of sentence. For example, I could simply say:

그는 자기 아버지를 좋아해 = He likes his father

Likewise, while this sentence is natural:

나는 나의 여자 친구가 많이 먹는 것에 대해 신경 안 써 = I don’t care if my girlfriend eats a lot

Eliminating the “안” to create the positive version of this sentence is slightly unnatural. For example:

나는 나의 여자 친구가 많이 먹는 것을 신경 써

It would be unnatural to express this type of sentence using “신경 쓰다.” Instead, it would be more natural to simply say something like:

나는 나의 여자 친구가 많이 먹는 것이 싫어
= I don’t like my girlfriend eating a lot
= I don’t want my girlfriend to eat a lot

Although it is uncommon to indicate that one “cares” about something by using “신경을 쓰다,” I have noticed that Korean people often use this when giving a command. For example, if you want to tell somebody to “care” about something or a situation:

남동생에게 신경을 좀 쓰세요! = Show some care towards your younger brother!

That’s it for this lesson!

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