반항아 = a rebel
귀신 = ghost
거미 = spider
고래 = whale
늑대 = wolf
학위 = a degree (in universities)
학사 학위 = bachelor’s degree
석사 학위 = master’s degree
박사 학위 = Ph. D
지식 = knowledge
비평 = criticism
등급 = rating, grade
단추 = button
화장품 = cosmetics
소화기 = fire extinguisher
분필 = chalk
동기 = motive
일상 = everyday life
어긋나다 = to be dislocated, to be out of step
For help memorizing these words, try using our Memrise tool.
In this lesson, you will learn how to say “almost” in Korean. The common translation for “almost” in Korean can be “거의,”, but there are cases when you will need to use a special noun. Let’s get started.
The word (거의) in Korean is a very common adverb, and is used very similar to how the word “almost” is used in English. I like distinguishing between usages in my head, so let’s do it right here. 거의 can be used to:
1) Show that an action is progressing and it has “almost” reached its limit. Once it reaches the limit, it will likely stop. For example:
Just to point out – by context this type of sentence could be used to have different meanings depending on the context. It could be used to say that you are currently eating and have “almost” eaten all the rice, and will continue to eat (until the rice is gone and you’ve eaten it all). It could also be used to say that you “almost” ate all of the food, but you stopped because you reached some limit (you were full, I guess). There is no way to distinguish these two in Korean without context. However, in English you could translate them differently. In English, you could translate these two to:
I have almost eaten all the rice
I almost ate all of the rice
In Korean, the same sentence would be used to have both of those meanings. You could say the same about the other five examples with “거의” below:
2) To show that something is just a tad off of some description. For example:
컴퓨터 때문에 많은 지식이 일상에서 중요하지 않아요
= Because of computers, a lot of intelligence is not important in everyday life
컴퓨터 때문에 많은 지식이 일상에서 거의 중요하지 않아요
= Because of computers, a lot of intelligence is almost not important in everyday life
It is also possible to create a third type of sentence using the word 뻔. Let’s talk about this next.
Almost: 거의… ~ㄹ/을 뻔했다
In the previous section, you saw how “거의” can be used in different ways to mean “almost.” It is also possible to create another type of sentence. In this usage, the action that “almost” happens had not started in any way – and does not happen at all in the future (unless of course, another sentence says that it did).
Look at the following example, which you saw in the previous section.
저는 밥을 거의 다 먹었어요 = I almost ate all the food
In that sentence, the action that “almost” happened was “eating (all the rice).” However, even though you didn’t eat all of the rice, the action of “eating” was progressing until you hit your limit.
However, look at the following example:
저는 거의 넘어졌어요 = I almost fell
In that sentence, the action of “falling” never started to happen, and in addition will not start to happen. In these cases, you should attach the following to the action that did not occur:
~ㄹ/을 뻔 했다.
저는 거의 넘어질 뻔 했어요 = I almost fell
This type of sentence describes that the action (in this case, the action of falling) never actually happened despite it “almost” happening.
The word “뻔” is another one of those pseudo-nouns that actually has no meaning outside of the grammatical form (like “수” in “할 수 있다” (Lesson 45) and “적” in “한 적이 없다” (Lesson 32).
Below are many more examples:
저는 차를 거의 칠 뻔 했어요 = I almost hit that car
(Before the fact that you almost hit the car, you were not doing the action of “hitting the car”)
화가 너무 나서 친구를 거의 때릴 뻔 했어요 = Because I was so mad, I almost punched my friend
(before the fact that you almost punched your friend, you were not doing the action of “punching your friend”)
Also note that these sentences don’t necessarily need to have the word “거의” in them. The meaning of “almost” is already embedded within the meaning of “~ㄹ/을 뻔 하다”, so it doesn’t need to be used. However, it is not uncommon to find them used together in Korean sentences.
저는 차를 칠 뻔 했어요 = I almost hit that car
거미를 보고 죽을 뻔 했어요 = I saw a spider and then almost died
우리는 1등급을 받을 뻔 했어요 = We almost received the first prize
화가 너무 나서 친구를 때릴 뻔 했어요 = I was so mad I almost hit my friend
반항아가 선생님에게 침을 뱉을 뻔 했어요 = The rebel almost spat (spit) at the teacher
우리 사이가 어긋나서 싸울 뻔 했어요
= We don’t get along well (the space between us doesn’t match), so we almost fought
살인자가 사람을 죽인 동기를 말할 뻔 했어요
= The murderer almost said his motive for killing the person
우리 선생님을 모방하는 사람이 진짜 우리 선생님이라고 생각할 뻔 했다
= The person who impersonated our teacher almost made us think that he was really our teacher
That’s it for this lesson!
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