Lesson 132: ~ㄹ/을수록

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간격 = interval/space
야경 = night view
꿀벌 = honeybee
변동 = change/fluctuation
인류 = humanity/mankind
욕심 = greed
혈압 = blood pressure
발톱 = toenail
고무줄 = rubber band
생태계 = ecosystem
휘발유 = gasoline
메아리 = echo
성수기 = peak season
비수기 = off season/low season
저항력 = resistance
자외선 = ultra-violet rays
숙소비 = the price of accommodation
선진국 = developed nation
소매치기 = pick pocketing

재우다 = to put somebody to sleep
지향하다 = to aim for
반사하다 = to reflect
단축하다 = to make time shorter
작별하다 = to leave, to say farewell,

싱싱하다 = to be fresh




In this lesson, you will learn how to attach ~ㄹ/을수록 to the end of a clause. A rather advanced grammatical principle, but something that you should be able to grasp easily. Let’s get started.



As One Situation Changes, Another Situation Changes: ~/을수록

~ㄹ/을수록 is attached to verbs, adjectives and 이다 to indicate that – as one situation changes to some degree, another situation is affected and also changes to that degree. Let’s start by looking at a simple sentence to illustrate this meaning:

공부를 할수록 똑똑해요

In this sentence, ~ㄹ/을수록 is attached to 공부하다. The speaker is indicating that the degree in which one studies will affect the degree in which one is smart. A common English translation when ~ㄹ/을수록 is used in a sentence is “As….” For example:

공부를 할수록 똑똑해요 = As you study, you get smart

Implied in the meaning of ~ㄹ/을수록 is the idea that – if one studies to a certain degree, they get smart to that degree – but if one studies even more, they get even smarter. Therefore, it might be better to translate the sentence above in either of the following ways:

공부를 할수록 똑똑해요 = As you study more, you get smarter, or
공부를 할수록 똑똑해요 = The more you study, the smarter you get

You can use words like “많이” and “더” in these sentences, but it isn’t necessary. For example:

많이 공부를 할수록 더 똑똑해요 = As you study more, you get smarter
많이 공부를 할수록 더 똑똑해요 = The more you study, the smarter you get

Although “많이” and “더” are included in the sentences immediately above, their meanings are the same as the sentence presented earlier without them. As I mentioned, this meaning is already implied in the meaning of ~ㄹ/을수록. Although not necessary, it is common for Korean people to include these words.

It is also common to attach ~아/어지다 (Lesson 18) to the final word if it is an adjective. For example:

많이 공부를 할수록 더 똑똑해져요 = As you study more, you get smarter

I’m not able to express any difference in meaning when using ~아/어지다 or not in these examples. Again, the meaning of “more” or “getting…” is already implied in the meaning of ~ㄹ/을수록, so it isn’t necessary. That being said, there are times when adding ~아/어지다 is inappropriate. For example, look at the following sentence, which does not have ~아/어지다:

아침 일찍 과일을 살수록 과일이 더 싱싱해요
= The earlier you buy fruit in the morning, the fresher the fruit will be

Let me explain the difference between the following sentences:

공부를 할수록 똑똑해져요
아침 일찍 과일을 살수록 과일이 더 싱싱해요

In the first sentence, ~아/어지다 is used. If you think about the subject of this sentence – people in general – people can get smarter. However, in the second sentence, the fruit itself isn’t getting fresher. Only the situation of “going early” will allow one to get fresher fruits – but the fruit isn’t actually getting fresher.

Below you can see a similar example where ~아/어지다 would be inappropriate:

바나나가 초록색일수록 딱딱해요 = The greener bananas are, the harder they are

In this example, the bananas themselves don’t actually get harder. The speaker is just expressing the notion that the degree in which a banana is green will affect the degree in which it is hard. However, you will not see a banana actually get greener and then, because of that, get harder.

The sentence above shows ~ㄹ/을수록 added to 이다. You have also seen it added to verbs. It is also possible to add it to adjectives. For example:

여자들은 예쁠수록 인기가 많아요
여자들은 예쁠수록 인기가 많아져요
= As girls get prettier, they get more popular

You can also create a negative sentence to indicate that as a situation happens less, some other situation will be affected. For example:

일을 안 할수록 시간이 많아요
일을 안 할수록 시간이 많아져요
= As you work less, you will have more free time


Let’s look at a bunch of example sentences using ~ㄹ/을수록:

발톱이 길어질수록 아파요
= The longer my toenails get, the more they hurt

어두워질수록 야경이 예뻐요
= As it gets darker, the night view gets prettier

가방에 물건을 넣을수록 무거워져요
= As you put more things/items in my bag, the heavier it gets

친구들을 자주 만날수록 행복해져요
= The more often you meet friends, the happier you get

휘발유가 비쌀수록 교통비가 비싸져요
= The more expensive gasoline is, the more expensive transportation costs will be

선진국이 아닐수록 소매치기가 많아요
= As a country is less developed, there is more pick pocketing

스트레스를 받을수록 혈압이 높아져요
= The more stressed you are, the more your blood pressure goes up

사람들이 돈이 많을수록 욕심이 많아요
= The more money people have, the greedier they are

고무줄을 늘어뜨릴수록 저항력이 세져요
= The more you stretch the rubber band, the stronger the resistance is

시간이 늦을수록 버스 운행 간격이 줄어요
= As it (the time) gets later, the interval time for buses (the frequency that buses run) decreases

수업 시간이 단축될수록 학생들이 기뻐해요
= As the class time shortens, students get happier

성수기가 가까워질수록 숙소비가 더 비싸져요
= As it gets closer to the peak season, the price of accommodation gets more expensive

애기가 피곤할수록 애기를 재우기가 더 쉬워요
= The more tired the baby is, the easier it is to put him asleep

사람들과 친해질수록 작별을 하는 게 힘들어져요
= The closer you get with people, the more difficult it is to say goodbye to them

소리를 크게 지를수록 메아리가 더 크게 돌아와요
= The louder you scream, the louder the echo is

사람들이 환경을 파괴할수록 이 생태계가 나빠져요
= The more people destroy the environment, the worse this ecosystem gets

환율 변동이 생길수록 주식시장에 문제가 많이 생겨요
= As changes in the exchange rate happen/come up there are problems in the stock market

지구표면에 눈과 얼음이 많을수록 자외선이 반사돼요
= The more snow and ice on the earth’s surface, the more UV rays get reflected

꿀벌이 없어질수록 인류에 영향을 미치는 문제가 많아요
= As bees disappear, there will be more problems that affect humans

오존층이 없어질수록 지구에 들어오는 자외선이 많아져요
= The more the ozone layer disappears, the more UV rays enter earth

That’s it for this lesson!