Lesson 98: To pretend to: ~은/ㄴ/는 척하다

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Vocabulary
Introduction

To pretend to: ~은/ㄴ/는 척하다

 

 

Vocabulary

Nouns:
정신 = mind/spirit/soul
설거지 = dish washing
조사 = investigation
사생활 = personal life
헛소문 = groundless rumor
단체 = organization/corporation
긴장감 = tension
사건 = events
놀이터 = playground
불교 = Buddhism
문단 = paragraph

Verbs:
주장(하다) = argument (argue)
향상하다 = improve/develop/progress
발전하다 = improve/develop/progress
노동하다 = work/labor
탈출하다 = escape
퍼지다 = diffuse/spread out/spread
정돈하다 = arrange
흐르다 = for a liquid to flow
강조하다 = stress/emphasize
맡다 = undertake/take on/handle/manage
외식하다 = to eat out somewhere
구하다 = rescue
데다 = to burn (part of a body)

Adverbs and Other Words:
야생 = wild (wild ____ animal)
및 = as well as (Korea as well as Canada)

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

 

Introduction

In this lesson, you will learn about a grammatical principles that is essentially an extension of the ~는 것 principle that you studied at great lengths in the first five lessons of Unit 2. 척(하다) can be used instead of “것” in the “~는 것” principle to mean “to pretend.” Let’s get started.

 

To pretend to: ~//척하다

In Unit 2, I bombarded it into your brain that ~는 attaches to the stem of a verb to describe an upcoming noun.  I stressed that the word following ~는 in these cases must always be a noun. For example:

먹는 사람 = the person who eats
가는 사람 = the person who goes

..

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As you know, you can attach ~하다 to many nouns to make the action (verb) form of that noun. The noun ‘척’ means ‘pretending’ or whatever the noun of ‘to pretend’ would be.

The verb form of that word (척하다) translates to ‘to pretend,’ and it often replaces ‘것’ in the ‘는 것’ principle. For example:

먹는 척하다 = to pretend to eat
가는 척하다 = to pretend to go

Notice that this is technically breaking the rule of ~는 것 – that the word that follows ‘는 must be a noun. I often see people trying to get around this “technically breaking a rule” by separating 척 and 하다. This would look like:

먹는 척(을) 하다, or
가는 척(을) 하다

When this is done, not only is the meaning the same, but (in the case of when the particle “~을/을” is not used) the pronunciation is exactly the same as well.

Two common verbs used before 척하다 are:
알다 (to know)
죽다 (to die)

For example:
그는 정답을 아는 척했어요 = He pretended to know the right answer
강아지는 무서워서 죽는 척했어요 = The dog pretended to be dead because it was scared

The word 잘나다 (to do something well), is also commonly used before “척하다.” This construction as a whole means “to brag/boast.” For example:

그녀는 시험을 잘 보고 친구들한테 잘난 척했어요 = She bragged to her friends after doing well on the exam
그 선생님이 서울대를 다니셔서 항상 잘난 척하셔요 = That teacher always brags because he graduated from Seoul National University

Another peculiar thing about this grammatical principle is that there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to when the past tense form of ~ㄴ/은 should be used or the present tense ~는 should be used.

Notice that in English when we say these sentences, the action that is pretended is not conjugated. For example, we say:

She pretended to like me, NOT
She pretended to liked me

Or,

He pretended to understand, NOT
He pretended to understood

However, in Korean, the action that is pretended is conjugated – but there is no need to distinguish a different meaning between the two. The examples that I used previously in the lesson:

그는 정답을 아는 척했어요 = He pretended to know the right answer
강아지는 무서워서 죽는 척했어요 = The dog pretended to be dead because it was scared

Could also be said/written as:

그는 정답을 안 척했어요 = He pretended to know the right answer
강아지는 무서워서 죽은 척했어요 = The dog pretended to be dead because it was scared

However, the one exception is that I have never seen anybody use “잘나는 척하다” – so it should always be used as “잘난 척하다.”
Many examples:

선생님이 그를 보자 공부하는 척했어요 = He pretended to study when the teacher looked at him
아이는 엄마 말을 들은 척했어요 = The child pretended to listen to his mother

This form can also be used with adjectives. For example:
원하는 것을 받으려고 여자는 슬픈 척했어요 = The girl pretended to be sad to get what she wanted
저는 파티에서 행복한 척했는데 사실 요즘에 진짜 슬퍼요 = I pretended to be happy at the party, but I am actually really sad these days
여자는 자기 남자 친구한테 귀여운 척했어요 = The girl pretended to be cute to her boyfriend

There are also some words that can be used instead of “척하다.” The most common alternative is “체하다,” which has a very similar (if not identical meaning):

식당에서 교수님은 저를 모른 체했어요 = The professor pretended to not know me in the restaurant

That’s it for this lesson!

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