Lesson 90: The meaning of ~잖다 (~잖아, ~잖아요)

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The meaning of ~잖다 (~잖아, ~잖아요)




본질 = essence
분노 = anger
말대답 = talk back
수도꼭지 = tap/faucet
근심 = trouble/fear
승낙 = approval/consent/permit
야당 = opposition party
여당 = ruling party
이익 = benefit/profit/gain

도입하다 = introduce (not people)
반영하다 = reflect/mirror
새다 = leak out/slip out
재활용하다 = recycle/reuse (recycling)
수강하다 = to take a course
수료하다 = to finish a course
맞서다 = stand up against/oppose

Passive Verbs:
종료되다 = state of being off
잡히다 = passive for ‘grab’

곱다 = beautiful
촌스럽다 = for a style to look awkward
꼼꼼하다 = meticulous/precise

Adverbs and Other Words:
전염성 = contagiousnous (not a word in English)
결과론적으로 = as it turns out
식후 = after a meal
식전 = before a meal
한숨 = short sleep
전용 = only (placed after noun)
지극히 = very/extremely
꼼꼼히 = meticulously/precisely
하루하루 = each and every day

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



In this lesson you will learn how to end sentences with ~잖다 (~잖아 or ~잖아요). Though this is a very common ending in conversational Korean, English speakers often cannot figure out exactly what it means. The main reason for this is simply because it is hard to translate directly into English. In this lesson, there will be many examples that describe specifically the situation where this grammatical form can be used. Let’s get started.


The meaning of ~잖다 (~잖아, ~잖아요)

As you may have heard by now, adding ~잖다 (usually conjugated to ~잖아 or ~잖아요) to a word at the end of a sentence is very common in Korean. The meaning that this construction creates is very difficult to translate, but easier to describe. Therefore, when reading the examples of this usage in this lesson, pay more attention to the descriptions after the sentences that I provide than the actual translations.

Attaching ~잖다 to a verb/adjective at the end of a sentence creates the meaning that loosely translates to “as you know/you know/don’t forget that…” In practice, this is used when you are talking to somebody who knows the fact that you just said, and you are asserting to this person that he/she knows (or should know) this fact. A common word that this is attached to (that you will hear all the time) is:

맞다 (to be right/correct) + 잖다 = 맞잖다 (typically conjugated to 맞잖아! or 맞잖아요!)
맞잖아요! = I told you it was right! You should have known that this was right!

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself with a friend, and somebody asks the two of you what the capital of Canada is. You say that the capital of Canada is Ottawa, and your friend says the capital is Vancouver. After debating for a bit, the person who asked you the question says that the capital of Canada is in fact Ottawa. In this case, you could say to your friend: 오타와 맞잖아! = I told you Ottawa was right/You should have known that Ottawa was right!

Similarly, if you know that the capital city of Canada isn’t Vancouver, you could say to your friend:
밴쿠버 아니잖아! = It’s not Vancouver! You should know that it is not Vancouver!



Let’s look at another example with another word:

내일은 토요일이잖아요! 그래서 우리가 일찍 가야 될 것 같아요 = You should know that tomorrow is Saturday, so we should probably go early!

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself with a friend discussing what time you should go to the park tomorrow. Because tomorrow is Saturday, you know that there will probably be a lot of people at the park on Saturday. So, you can say to your friend “don’t forget/you should know that tomorrow is Saturday! So we should go early because of that!”


Let’s look at another example:

나는 돈이 없잖아! = Don’t forget that I don’t have any money/you should know that I don’t have any money:

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself with your girlfriend but with no money (which I don’t recommend, but it could happen if you forget your wallet or something). You tell her that you forgot your wallet and therefore have no money on you. Your girlfriend later asks you to buy her a cup of coffee, to which you can respond “Don’t forget that I don’t have any money/you should know that I don’t have any money!”

The important thing to notice here is that you have already told your girlfriend that you don’t have your wallet. Therefore, you are telling her a fact that she should already know. Herein lies the subtle meaning that ~잖다 has – you are stating something that the listener already should know and you are asserting to that person that they should know this fact already.


Let’s look at another example:

윌리가 배고프잖아! = Willy (my name) is hungry!/You should know that Willy is hungry/Don’t forget that Willy is hungry!

Description of when this would be used:

Okay, so my name is actually “Willy” and I heard this sentence this morning. I will explain the situation of why it was used. I was at my girlfriend’s house and we were talking about what we were going to make for lunch. My girlfriend’s mother suggested that we make something small, to which my girlfriend’s dad responded “윌리가 배고프잖아!”

As I mentioned in the previous example – the important thing to remember with this meaning is that the listener should already know the fact that is being said. In this case, I am (actually) always hungry, and my girlfriend’s father was making an assertion to his wife that “don’t forget, Willy eats a lot and is going to be hungry if we cook something small!”


~잖다 is also commonly used when you are telling a story to somebody. Usually, when telling a story (in any language), you need to provide some sort of back-story that is often common knowledge before getting to the actual story. An example of this could be:

제가 어제 회사에서 조금 아팠잖아요…… 그래서 집에 가서 밥을 먹고 갑자기 토했어요~ 그래서 병원에 갔어요.

Description of when this would be used:

Imagine yourself at work the day after you were sick. You are at work, and a co-worker heard from somebody that you went to the hospital last night. He asks why you went to the hospital, and in your response you say “remember/don’t forget/as you know I was sick at work yesterday… Then, I went home and ate, and suddenly threw up, so I went to the hospital.”

Notice that in this example as well, the listener should know about the fact that you were sick yesterday.


A few more things to be aware about before we finish:

Notice in the example that ~잖다 can be added to verbs/adjectives conjugated into the past tense. It isn’t usually attached to words conjugated to the future tense (using ~겠).

Additional grammatical principles are rarely (if ever) attached to 잖다, and this form usually ends a sentence.

My girlfriend always tells me that adding ~잖아/잖아요 to the end of a sentence makes it sound like you are being rude/mean. Almost as if you are saying “I TOLD you it was like that!” Though she says this, I constantly hear people using ~잖다 all the time without the emotion of “being angry.” Nonetheless, she is telling me that you should be cautious if using this form to an elder or to somebody who deserves high respect.

In a recent lesson, you learned about ~알다시피 and how it can be used to mean “as you know.” Though ~알다시피 and ~잖다 have different usages, their meanings are quite similar. Therefore, I suggest that if you want to use “~잖다” to an elder – consider using ~알다시피 first. For example, if your boss asked you why you were late for work yesterday, you could say:

제가 어제 아팠잖아요! = Don’t forget/You should know that I was sick yesterday

But if you say that sentence, you are (in a way) asserting to your boss that he/she should know that you were sick, which might sound very rude. Instead, you could say:
부장님도 아시다시피 저는 어제 아파서 회사에 늦게 왔어요 = As you know, I was sick yesterday, so I was late

If you said this sentence instead, it would sound much more polite and probably wouldn’t get you in trouble.


In addition to all of this, ~잖다 is commonly attached to 있다. This construction should not be seen as the meanings of “있다” and “잖다” put together. Instead, “있잖아/있잖아요” should be thought of as one unit. “있잖아/있잖아요” is commonly used at the beginning of a sentence when somebody is trying to think of what they want to say or if they are indicating that they have something to say. For example:

있잖아…  사람들이 너무 많을까? = Hmm… do you think there will be too many people?

That’s it for this lesson!

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