Lesson 91: ~거든(요): Because, Other meanings

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Because: ~거든(요)
Other meanings of: ~거든(요)




후계자 = heir/successor
영리 = profit
비영리 = non-profit
의료 = medical treatment
재단 = foundation
품질 = the quality of a product
물속 = inside water
얼룩 = stain/smear/smudge
국경 = border
국경선 = border line
이두근 = biceps
삼두근 = triceps
실내화 = slippers/house shoes
냉방 = air conditioning

숙이다 = to hang one’s body/head forward
표시하다 = to express, show, indicate

Passive Verbs:
중독되다 = to be addicted

끊임없다 = to be constant
겸손하다 = to be modest
화창하다 = for weather to be bright, clear, nice

Adverbs and Other Words:
끊임없이 = constantly

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



In this lesson, you will learn how to add ~거든(요) to the end of a sentence or to connect two clauses. Like many grammatical principles in Korean, the meaning of ~거든 depends on the situation and context of when it is used. In this lesson, I will break down all the possible meanings of ~거든(요) and explain their usages. Let’s get started.



Teaching the listener what he or she doesn’t know ~거든()

In Lesson 37 you first learned how a speaker can indicate a reason using ~아/어서. ~아/어서 usually connects two clauses to have the meaning “so/therefore/because.” For example:

저는 밥을 먹고 있어서 지금 가고 싶지 않아요
= I don’t want to go now because I am eating

바닥이 추워서 실내화를 신었어요
= I put on slippers (indoor shoes) because the floor is/was cold

우리는 비영리재단이라서 돈을 안 받아요
= We don’t accept money because we are a non-profit organization

Assuming the appropriate context, it would be possible to eliminate the clause after ~아/어서. These sentences would normally be used in response to a question asking “why” something is or is not occurring. For example:

Why don’t you want to go now?
저는 밥을 먹고 있어서… = Because I am eating…

Why are you wearing slippers?
바닥이 추워서…= … Because the floor is cold…

Why don’t you accept money?
우리는 비영리재단이라서… = Because we are a non-profit organization…

The examples above aren’t really full sentences in English or Korean, but you will commonly hear them uttered given the correct context leading up to them.

It is also possible to place ~거든(요) after a clause to provide reason. For example, the three examples from above could be written as:

Why don’t you want to go now?
저는 밥을 먹고 있거든요 = Because I am eating

Why are you wearing slippers?
바닥이 춥거든 = … Because the floor is cold

Why don’t you accept money?
우리는 비영리재단이거든 = Because we are a non-profit organization

Here’s an example from my own life. I was at hotel enjoying their breakfast buffet one morning, and I noticed that my wife took about 10 macadamia nuts from the buffet. I asked her “마카다미아를 왜 이렇게 많이 가져왔어?” (Why did you take so many macadamia nuts?) To which she responded:

마카다미아를 좋아하거든!
= Because I like macadamia (nuts)

Notice that those technically are not full sentences in English even though they could be naturally spoken. Again, you would use sentences like this is when somebody is asking a question, and you only need to provide a reason. In other words, the speaker is providing information (or teaching) that the listener doesn’t know. The context for giving the reason doesn’t have to come from another person asking a question. It is also possible for the speaker to provide his or her own context to later provide a reason for. For example:

저는 요즘에 너무 늦게 자요. 일이 많거든요
= These days I am going to bed too late. Because I have so much work.

In both situations, you can see that ~거든(요) is used to provide information to the listener that the listener doesn’t know yet. In a sense, this is the opposite function of ~잖아(요), which was discussed in the previous lesson.

~거든(요) is very easy to attach to verbs, adjectives and 이다 because no irregulars occur when ~ㄱ is added to any stem. Below are many examples:

In the example sentences below, I made it so the speaker provides the prior context that warrants him/her to say a sentence with ~거든(요). Again, it’s also possible that this information could be provided by another person. This was done just for simplicity, and so that you can specifically see that ~거든(요) is used to provide some sort of new information that wasn’t previously known to the listener.

문을 닫았어요. 이제 냉방 주이거든요.
= I closed the door. Because the air conditioner is running.

셔츠를 입어야 될 것 같아요. 이두근이 너무 크거든요.
= Looks like I’d better put on a shirt. Because my biceps are too big.

이 제품이 인기가 많아요. 품질이 아주 좋거든요.
= This product is popular. Because the quality (of it) is very good.

컴퓨터를 쓸 때 고개를 그렇게 숙이지 마. 목이 아프거든
= When you use a computer, don’t bend your head forward like that. Your neck will be sore(Korean people commonly use “

아프다” in the present tense to suggest that one does not do something because he or she will get/be hurt. For example, if you were going to pick up a heavy box, I could say “하지 마! 허리 아파!

오늘 우리가 밖에 나가야 돼요. 날씨가 아주 화창하거든요
= We need to go outside today. The weather is very bright and clear.

트럼프 대통령이 미국과 멕시코 국경에 벽을 못 세워요. 국경이 너무 길거든요.
= Trump can’t build a wall on the border between America and Mexico. The border is too big.

All of the examples so far have shown ~거든(요) attached to a word in the present tense. You can also give the listener information about something that occurred in the past by attaching it to ~았/었. For example:

물속에 안 들어갔어. 너무 무서웠거든.
= I didn’t go into the water. Because it was too scary

그 셔츠를 벗었어요. 얼룩이 셔츠에 생겼거든요.
= I look that shirt off. Because the shirt got stained (a stain came up)

내가 멕시코 경찰에 잡혔어. 국경선을 넘었거든.
= I was caught by the Mexican police. Because I crossed the border

이 화창한 날씨를 보니 기분이 아주 좋아요. 2주일 동안 비가 끊임없이 왔거든요.
= I’m so happy to see this clear weather. Because it rained constantly for two weeks.

이제 직원들이 부장님을 아주 잘 하고 있어요. 부장님이 아직 자기 후계자를 지명하지 않았거든요.
= Everybody is being nice to the boss now. Because he hasn’t chosen/designated his successor yet.

It is also possible to give the listener information about something that will occur in the future by attaching ~거든(요) to ~ㄹ/을 것이다. For example:

내일 못 가겠어. 친구를 만나러 서울에 갈 거거든
= Tomorrow I won’t be able to go. Because I’m meeting a friend in Seoul

건강보험을 들어야 돼요. 거기서 의료를 못 받을 것이거든요
= We need to get insurance. Because we won’t be able to get medical treatment there.

담배를 피워 보지 마세요. 한번만 해 보면 바로 중독될 것이거든요
= Don’t try cigarettes (smoking). If you try it just once, you’ll get addicted.

Remember that can be shortened to , in which case “” in 이다 can be omitted. In the example above, it looks like “~거든요” is attached directly to “거.” In effect this is true, but this is a contraction of “갈 것이거든요.”


The examples so far have all ended with ~거든(요). As the addition of ~거든(요) inherently implies that the listener isn’t aware of the information before it, it is common for a sentence ending in ~거든(요) to set up for an upcoming sentence. In other words, the sentence spoken after ~거든(요) is usually something that now makes sense because the listener heard the new information attached to ~거든(요). Let’s look at an example:

Imagine I just said this sentence:

제가 프랑스어도 할 수 있어요
= I can speak French as well

If you were to just say this sentence, the listener wouldn’t know how you are able to speak French. However, by prefacing this with a sentence ending in ~거든(요), you can provide information as to how/why you are able to speak French. For example:

제가 캐나다 사람이거든요. 그래서 프랑스어도 할 수 있어요
= I’m Canadian. So, I can speak French as well.

In a way, the first sentence (the one ending in ~거든요) provides new information to the listener that he/she can use to make sense of some upcoming information. Below are more examples:

일을 아직 안 했거든요. 그래서 오늘 회사에 가서 해야 될 것 같아요
I haven’t done that work yet. So, I’ll probably have to go to the office and do it.

어제 일을 다 했거든요. 그래서 오늘 할 일이 없어요
= I finished all of my work yesterday. Therefore, I have nothing to do today.

오늘 친구를 만나러 서울 갈 거거든요. 혹시 같이 갈래요?
= I’m going to Seoul to meet a friend tonight. Would you like to go together?

우리가 언제 할지 달력에 표시했거든요. 깜빡하지 말고 그 날에 꼭 와야 돼요
= I marked it on the calendar. Don’t forget, and make sure you come that day.

It looks weird sometimes when you translate these sentences into English simply because there is no perfect definition for certain grammatical principles. The meaning of “providing information for the upcoming sentence while implying a slight meaning of ‘because’” is the best I can do in this case.


In addition to this meaning, ~거든 can be placed between two clauses to have the meaning of “if” or “when” similar to ~(으)면 or ~ㄴ/는다면 that you learned about in Lesson 43. The difference is that ~거든 is more usually used when the second clause ends with an imperative conjugation (when somebody tells somebody to do something) or some other form of suggestive ending.

However, this usage is not very common, but it does come up every once and a while. For example:

바지가 너무 크면 교환해! = If the pants are too big, change them!
바지가 너무 크거든 교환해! = If the pants are too big, change them!

숙제를 다 하거든 알려줘! = Let me know when you are done your homework!
숙제를 다 하면 알려 줘! = Let me know when you are done your homework!

If you are studying for the intermediate TOPIK test, be prepared to answer a question like the following:

Choose the grammatical principle that can replace the underlined section in the following sentence:

길이 미끄러우면 버스를 타!

a) 미끄러운데
b) 미끄럽잖아
c) 미끄럽다가
d) 미끄럽거든


Finally, it’s quite common for people to attach ~거든(요) to 아니다 to express their disagreement with some fact. This is often done by the younger generation and usually used when they are trying to thrust their disagreement into the conversation. For example:

Person 1: 그 남자가 너무 잘생겼어 = That man is so handsome
Person 2: 아니거든! = No! (He’s not!)

Person 1: 그 사람이 아주 겸손했어 = That person is so modest
Person 2: 아니거든! = No! (He’s not!)

That’s it for this lesson!

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